Most of us throw caution to the wind during the festive season, so it is little wonder that we limp into January feeling aless than vibrant. To help make 2015 your healthiest year yet, make a commitment to start out as you mean to go on, and follow these tips for a healthy, safe New Year Detox.
Keep it Gentle
We are all familiar with juice fasts and quick cleanses. But a quick fix is never a long term solution, and can actually do more harm than good. Following a strict juice fast, even for as little as 3 days, can be an immense shock to an overburdened system. A juice fast will rapidly release stored toxins into the blood stream, and if your body is not prepared it will struggle to remove this sudden surge of poisons, putting pressure on the already tired liver and kidneys, and bringing unwelcome symtoms such as headaches, lethargy, nausea, kidney and liver pain - all signs your body is struggling rather than signs the detox is 'working'. Instead, eat a clean, healthy diet, and make a longer term commitment to fuelling you body correctly.
Remove the Obvious Offenders
We all know what these are, and we each have our favourites, but things like alcohol, processed foods, saturated fats, caffeine, sugary foods, fizzy drinks and chocolate need to be removed, at least temporarily. You should also consider removing common inflammatory foods such as gluten and dairy to give your immune and digestive systems a rest. If we could see how hard our bodies had to work to metabolise and eliminate unhealthy foods, we would be far kinder to ourselves. It is a credit to the wonderful body how well we actually handle the excess alcohol, food and stress the festive period brings.
Rehydrate and Restore Electrolytes
Water will keep the blood thin and improve circulation, helping flush out toxins. Aim for two litres of clean, fluoride-free water (filtered tap or glass bottled) per day. Proper hydration requires not just water, but a number of important elements known as electrolytes. Electrolytes allow our body's cells to conduit electricity and communicate with each other, enabling nerve impulses, muscle function and appropriate pH levels, and an imbalance can seriously undermine health. Electrolytes include calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, potassium, sodium, phosphate and chloride. The body is pretty good at maintaining the correct electrolyte balance once it has been fed the right fuel - a natural, healthy diet, so pick your food wisely.
Add Detox Foods to your Diet
Sulphur is an important substance to help the liver detoxify. Sulphur containing foods include onions, garlic, leeks and eggs.
Green leafy vegetables are nutrient superpowers. Include broccoli, kale, cabbage and spinach. Make such these are only eaten cooked, as raw they may irritate the thyroid gland.
Fibre-rich foods will mop up toxins in the bowel. Include apples, pears, oats and brown rice.
Drink lemon juice with warm water throughout the day - lemon helps alkalinise the body and restore hydration.
Apple cider vinegar is also very helpful during a detox as it has a wide range of health benefits.
Include tonifying and anti-inflammtory herbs and spices in your cooking, such as turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon.
Our body repairs itself during sleep, and our mind processes all the thoughts and stresses of the day through dreaming. There simply is no better restorative tonic than sleep. Aim for at least 8 hours per night, and be asleep by 10.30pm as our bodies enjoy adrenal restoration from 11pm to midnight - staying awake too late will increase adrenal output (more stress hormones) leading to insomnia, fatigue, irritability and lethargy on waking.
Detox the Mind
The New Year brings an opportunity to make positive changes to your thinking and your life. Pay attention to your thoughts - do you worry too much, stress about situations outside of your control, or have a pessimistic outlook? Our thoughts control how we feel. A mind at peace will see the world with optimism, joy and enthusiasm. A mind under stress will feel only darkness, negativity and apathy. The good news is, we can change our thoughts! Meditation is a great place to start. Join your local mindfulness group, or sign up to a yoga or TaiChi course, or take a stroll through the Modem Psychology section of your local bookshop and flick through the many wonderful self help books for improving your mood - it might just change your life!
If you feel you need a little extra help with your New Year detox, or would like to undergo a more intensive detoxification programme, link up with a practitioner for expert guidance in how to detox safely and effectively.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2015!