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Detox for The New Year

By Jennifer
Thursday, December 14, 2017

Do you need a New Year Detox?

healthy eating wordsIt's the New Year and magazines, newspapers and adverts are telling you to cleanse or detox, but do you really need to consume nothing but fruit juice for a week in order to detox?

What is detoxification?

Detoxification is an essential process by which the body transforms potentially harmful molecules into safe molecules that can then be safely excreted from the body. All substances that we eat, drink, breath and expose our skin to need to be detoxified. This includes:

  • Food
  • Drink -alcohol and caffeine particularly
  • Medications
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Traffic pollution
  • Cosmetics
  • Pesticide residue on fruit and vegetables
  • By-products of our own body's metabolic processes

The body works to detoxify itself on a continual basis through: sweating, sneezing, breathing, urination and defecation. However, the one organ that most people think of when they think of detox is the liver. The liver detoxifies in 2 phases with the efficiency of this system being partially determined by genetics but also your own level of toxic exposure and how well nourished you are. If you have a nutrient dense diet and low toxic exposure then this may help to overcome any genetic predispositions. Unfortunately, many people do not eat a nutrient dense diet and may be deficient in beneficial nutrients that the liver requires to optimise its function. Toxins are fat soluble, meaning that any that are unable to be eliminated can be stored in the body in fat cells.

However, detoxification is not the only function of the liver, it also produces enzymes, cholesterol (required for hormone production) helps regulate blood sugar, manufactures bile and breaks down old red blood cells. If the liver is overwhelmed by the amount of toxins we are exposed to and does not have the required nutrients its ability to function correctly may be diminished causing symptoms of ill health.

  • Headaches/migraines
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Adult acne
  • Rosacea
  • Irritability
  • Poor cognitive function
  • Sneezing/wheezing/nasal drip/sinusitis
  • Adverse reactions to food
  • Food cravings
  • Digestive discomfort - bloating, constipation, flatulence
  • Chronic itching
  • Joint stiffness

For centuries people have tried different techniques to aid detoxification including: fasting, saunas, colonic irrigation, more recently juice cleanses, elimination diets and any number of herbal supplement programmes have added to the choice.

How can I support my body to detoxify efficiently?

Your body is constantly detoxifying and eliminating toxic products, the best way to support this process is to avoid anything that is potentially toxic and to provide it with the correct nutrients.

Foods and drink to aid detoxification

  1. Eat organic foods as much as possible. This helps to reduce exposure to pesticides, antibiotics and other chemicals used in the production of food.
  2. Consume fruit and vegetables with the skin on to retain the antioxidant content.
  3. Eat a wide range of fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices. These add phytochemicals to the diet that help the liver to process toxins.
    • Berries
    • Green tea
    • Turmeric
    • Ginger
    • Onions, garlic, leeks
    • Beetroot
    • Cruciferous vegetables- broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, rocket. (For those with an underactive thyroid these should be eaten in moderation and cooked. They may interfere with the availability of iodine that is required for thyroid).
  4. Eat high quality protein such as lean, organic poultry, fish and eggs. Nuts and seeds are also a good choice. Protein provides essential amino acids and B vitamins to help the liver. Vegetarians must ensure that they are including adequate amounts of protein in the form of beans, nuts, pulses, tofu, eggs and dairy if not vegan.
  5. Eat wholegrain foods as they also provide B vitamins.
  6. Use Monounsaturated fats (MUFA's) such as olive oil and Poluunsaturated fats (PUFA's) oily fish, nuts and seeds as the main fat sources. Both MUFA's and PUFA's may help to increase bile production.
  7. Drink plenty of water to enable the body to eliminate toxins.

Foods to avoid

  1. Avoid or reduce alcohol and caffeine intake.
  2. Reduce intake of well-cooked meats (pan frying, barbecuing) as this increases the production of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines.
  3. Keep cooking temperatures below 200 degreesC/400 degreesC. Slow cooking meat in the oven or in a Slow Cooker may help to avoid the activation of these toxins.
  4. Avoid trans fats, often labelled as hydrogenated fats. These are damaged fats.
  5. Avoid processed foods, these contain chemicals in the form of sweeteners, preservatives, colourings.
  6. Eliminate sugar and refined foods (white bread, pasta, rice, cakes and biscuits) these add calories and sugar whilst being almost devoid of beneficial nutrients.


  1. Reduce exposure to chemicals in the home, use more natural cleaning products. There are many chemical free alternative available to buy however, white vinegar, sodium bicarbonate and citric acid are as effective as many commercial cleaners.
  2. Reduce or avoid smoking and smoky atmospheres.
  3. Swap cosmetics and toiletries for organic products or those using natural ingredients. (Origins, REN, Dr Hauschka, Green People, Faith in Nature).
  4. Avoid cling film and tin foil where possible. Use baking parchment or tinfoil lined with baking parchment (Lakeland, Tesco). Avoid using plastic in a microwave, use glass instead. Use glass storage dishes rather than plastic. Avoid using aluminium and non-stick cooking pans, use ceramic or cast iron.
  5. Saunas can promote toxin excretion through sweating. Use 3 times a week for 20 minutes.

A word of caution

Most people are aware that if someone reduces their caffeine intake from 6 cups a day to zero they are likely to suffer from headaches. This is accepted as being a detox reaction. The same can happen with any radical changes to the diet and you may initially feel worse. Make changes slowly, add in the good foods first before eliminating caffeine, alcohol, processed foods etc. If you already suffer with any of the symptoms at the top of the article you may benefit from having the guidance of a health professional to help you detox safely.

I hope this article has been of interest, if you would like to start the New Year by learning more about how nutritional therapy can help you then claim your FREE 30 minute health and energy assessment today.

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