Has the festive season and busy start to 2016 left you feeling sluggish and unhealthy? It may be time to try Patrick Holford’s simple detox plan …
Time to detox
If you started the year feeling sluggish, it may be because your body is trying to shake off the effects of prolonged over-indulgence – of overeating and under-exercising, and too much caffeine, alcohol, meat, dairy, fat, sugar, salt in the standard festive diet.
Although we can’t turn back the clock and change the decisions we made over the holiday season, it is never too late to adjust the clock on our liver and give our body a fresh start, says world-renowned psychologist and nutrition expert, Patrick Holford.
“The liver is the chemical brain of the body, constantly recycling, regenerating and detoxifying in order to maintain your health. Sometimes, because of an overload in toxins, it simply cannot process fast enough and consequently toxins are stored in the body to be dealt with later, which is why you feel especially ‘under par’ after a period of excess,” explains Holford.
5 Habits to break and make
Without resorting to an extravagant detox that is bound to leave you starved and unable to focus for a few days, Holford suggests giving your liver a good kick-start each year, simply by making and sticking to five new good habits, while committing to breaking five old bad habits.
Five habits to break
Starting with the difficult part – to give your liver a good break you need to avoid:
- Wheat – cut it out. All wheat contains a protein called gluten which is exceedingly unfriendly to your digestive tract. So, give your gut a week’s break to allow the liver to focus on detoxifying other toxins. You can eat cereals, breads and pasta made from oats, rice, amaranth, buckwheat, corn, grain, millet or quinoa.
- Milk, yoghurt and cheese – avoid them. It’s the most common food allergen and most people produce antibodies to it. In other words, it causes your immune system to react. It’s also mucous-forming. Give your system a week off milk and all dairy products.
- Caffeine – kick the habit. If the thought of giving up coffee causes a burst of hostility, then the chances are you are addicted to caffeine. Caffeine is a toxin that makes your liver work over-hard to get rid of it. If you can bear it, cut out caffeine for one week or longer, and replace it with warm water and lemon, green tea, rooibos or Patrick Holford’s new Awake Tea with Moringa.
- Alcohol – give it a break. Putting aside any negligible benefits that a glass of red wine may have for heart health, there is no denying that alcohol taxes both your liver and gut. The more alcohol you consume, the more antioxidants you need and the harder your liver has to work. Give it a complete break for a week or two … or forever.
- Trans fats – stay away from them. These are the ‘damaged fats’ which are much in the news these days, and for good reason. They are found in deep-fried ‘foods’ and foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oils. To minimise your exposure to trans-fats, stay away from fried foods and processed fatty spreads and meats.
Five habits to make
- Drink eight glasses of water a day. After all, your body is 66% water and this alone will help you detoxify.
- Eat superfoods to spring-clean your system. The best foods include fresh apricots, apples, citrus fruits, kiwi, pineapple, papaya, peaches, mangoes, melons, red grapes and all types of berries. Vegetables that are especially good for detoxification include artichokes, peppers, beets, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, red cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, kale, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, tomato, watercress, and bean and seed sprouts.
- Load up on anti-aging antioxidants. They are the key players in detoxifying your body. If you boost your intake, from both food and supplements, you’ll definitely notice the difference. The top antioxidant power foods include pomegranates, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, baby spinach, kale, broccoli, beetroot, avocado, red peppers, cherries and kiwi fruit.
- Take liver-detoxifying supplements. From MSM to milk thistle, there’s a combination of seven top detoxifiers to give your liver’s detox capacity an upgrade. Look for a supplement that contains: N-Acetyl Cysteine, Milk Thistle Extract, Cruciferous Vegetable Compounds, MSM, Ellagic Acid, Dandelion Extract and Alpha Lipoic Acid.
- Do detoxifying exercises every day. Exercise has a vital role to play in helping the body to get rid of toxins – especially at times of excess. Any whole-body exercise is good for detoxification – brisk walking, jogging, swimming, yoga or Pilates are all great for this. Holford recommends and practices psychocalisthenics – a sequence of 23 exercises which combine body movement with chi-generating breathing.
He also advises a good massage to detoxify at every level by stimulating the circulatory and lymphatic systems, as the body stores chemical toxins, physical tension and negative emotions – all by-products of the busy festive season. So book yourself a massage in the name of health, drink water, eat superfoods, get some daily exercise and be sure to have an energised and healthy start to 2016.