Feeling bloated and unfit after the Christmas season? Nutritionist Dale Pinnock says swift and efficient detoxing is easier than you may think
It’s the New Year, which means it’s time for the flood gates to open with information on the latest detox gadgets, gizmos, lotions, and potions.
When I first got into healthy living, I did quite a few – and for a while, I genuinely thought they worked. I tried water fasting (five days on just water), food combining (not consuming proteins and carbohydrates together at the same meals), eating only raw food, and taking all manner of herbal formulae meant to cleanse my soul (and colon, supposedly). I even went as far as doing colonics a couple of times.
I have to admit, these detoxes gave me a buzz at the time. However, as the years have passed, I’ve come to realise – both personally and professionally – that I was overplaying the effects of the various techniques. I’m just not convinced any of them were necessary for staying clean. Today, I think of ‘detox’ as a bit of a dirty work.
Here’s why: the fact is, the only time that you are not detoxing is when you are dead. Our bodies are constantly sifting through the stuff we put into them and forcing out waste and toxins. Every minute of every day. We don’t need any weird rituals or routines for this to happen.
Rather than turning to mad detox regimes, I recommend that you simply trust your body’s complex, impressive, and entirely natural detoxifying system. Learn how it works, and how you can help it go about its business, and an easy-to-follow detox path stretches out in front of you.
Your natural detoxifying system
Every cell in the body has the ability to detoxify itself and break down environmental and metabolic waste. Enzymes in the cells either break down waste or render them less harmful for long enough to be kicked out of the body. Once such substances have been neutered, cells excrete the remains out into fluid that gets carried away by….
The lymphatic system. This is almost like a secondary circulatory system, which forms a vast network of organs and tissues throughout the body. It carries roughly three litres of fluid (recycled blood plasma, cellular waste, white blood cells, etc) around the body, moving it all in the direction of the neck, where it joins the blood stream. Once in the blood, the waste gets assimilated for removal from your body by…
The kidneys. Your kidneys have an incredibly sensitive filtration and waste removal system. In just five minutes, your entire blood supply passes through the filtration network in the kidneys, where soluble waste material is extracted and sent straight to the bladder for final ejection.
A healthy liver is the key to detoxed life
The liver, like the kidneys, filters the blood. Unlike the kidneys, it mainly deals with substances that come in via the digestive tract (which explains why it is so often affected by drugs and alcohol). A two-step process allows it to nullify harmful substances and make them stable for removal.
The first stage mainly involves the oxidation of substances, which makes them soluble and therefore ready to be ejected from the body via the urine. The second stage is called conjugation, whereby compounds that aren’t easily removed via the urine find another way out. Many of them travel away from the liver in bile, which eventually gets removed via the bowel.
Detox without the stress
All this is happening. Right now. And there’s not a coffee enema in sight! (They exist. I’m not joking.)
Don’t get me wrong: there are diet and lifestyle factors that can make these normal routes of elimination start to resemble the M25 on a Monday morning. You know the ones: too much booze, smoking, being a sofa spud, eating a diet devoid of anything that resembles a nutrient. But treat your body well in the first place and there should be no need to follow a diet that resembles munching the contents of a lawn mower bag, or that requires you to rinse your rear out with a litre of nescafe twice a day.
‘But it’s the New Year’, I hear you say, ‘I’ve been mistreating my body for the past four weeks!’ That be as it may, there’s still no need to rely on anything other than your body’s natural detoxification process to put you on the right track.
What you can do, however, is aid the natural detox process using a couple of handy dietry tricks. Increase your water intake to support the kidneys by upping urinary output, for example – but don’t be tempted into taking up a water-only diet, as you won’t get the nutrients necessary to run the rest of your detox system. Do some daily exercise to increase lymphatic circulation. Try to eat a good amount of fibre to keep your digestive system operating at a healthy rate.
The message here is isn’t very glamorous: it really is just a case of following a healthy lifestyle that provides the body with everything it needs to get on with sorting itself out.
Your body is capable of marvellous magic. Let it do its work… naturally.
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