Anyone feel the need to detox after some Christmas indulging? Here is some advice and tips to get you started.
What is Detox?
Detox, short for detoxification, is the body's natural, ongoing process of neutralising or eliminating toxins from the body. Toxins are anything that can potentially harm body tissue, including waste products that result from normal cell activity, and human-made toxins that we are exposed to in our environment, food, and water.
The liver, intestines, kidneys, lungs, skin, blood and lymphatic systems work together to ensure that toxins are transformed chemically to less harmful compounds and excreted from the body.
What is a Detox Diet?
A detox diet refers to a program of diet, herbs, supplements and other methods of removing environmental and dietary toxins from the body. There are many different types of detox diets. Generally, a detox diet is a short-term diet that:
Minimises the amount of chemicals ingested (for example, by eating fresh and organic food and drinking purified water).
Emphasises foods that provide the vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants that the body needs for detoxification.
Contains foods, such as high fibre foods and water, that draw out and eliminate toxins by increasing the frequency of bowel movements and urination.
Detox programs vary widely, ranging from a juice fast, to simply eliminating white bread or meat. Usually, a detox diet lasts for seven to 10 days, with the first days primarily reserved for the consumption of raw foods and vegetable and fruit juices, while the remaining days one adheres to a schedule of nutrient and fibre-rich foods, such as fresh vegetables, legumes and whole grains - cutting out the unhealthy and processed foods. Whatever the plan may be, its best to seek practitioner advice before you start any kind of detox diet.
Why do People go on a Detox Diet?
Research suggests that many of the chemicals we ingest daily through food, water, and air can become deposited in fat cells in our bodies. Toxins include pesticides, antibiotics and hormones in food, chemicals from food packaging, household cleaners, detergents, food additives, heavy metals, pollution, drugs, and cigarette smoke. A diet that lacks certain nutrients may also impair our natural ability to detoxify chemicals, which further leads to their build-up in the body.
The cumulative load, called the "body burden", is thought to lead to illness and has been linked to hormonal imbalance, impaired immune function, nutritional deficiency, and an inefficient metabolism. Signs are thought to include indigestion, poor concentration and sluggishness, headaches, bad breath, fatigue, poor skin, and muscle pain.
In summary, the aim of a detox is to:
Reduce the amount of toxins and pollution into our body to lessen the burden against the detoxification organs
Promote healthy eating, nutrition and supplementation to help our body effectively clear the toxins
Detox diets encourage you to eat more fruit and vegetables, drink more water as well as cutting back on processed foods. It is also very empowering to feel like you are taking control of your diet which can boost your mood and motivate you to continue with positive changes.
People often report improved energy, clearer skin, regular bowel movements, improved digestion, weight loss, decreased headaches, and increased concentration and clarity after a detox diet. For me personally, the main benefits have been increased energy and improved feeling of well being.
Who Shouldn't Try a Detox Diet?
Anyone considering a detox diet should consult a qualified health professional and/or their medical doctor first. Pregnant or nursing women or children shouldn't go on a detox diet. People with certain health conditions such as liver or kidney disease should only try it under the supervision of their doctor. It is not intended for alcohol or drug detoxification.
Fatigue, indigestion, cough, muscle pain, and poor sleep can be signs of serious illness. That's why it's important to see a practitioner for a thorough assessment to ensure that any symptoms are not caused by a medical condition that requires immediate treatment.
One of the most common side effects is headache within the first few days of starting the detox diet, often due to caffeine withdrawal. For this reason, practitioners often suggest gradually decreasing the amount of caffeine prior to starting a detox diet. In addition, some people opt to take time off work to begin a detox diet or start the diet on the weekend.
Other side effects include excessive diarrhoea, which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte loss. Constipation may occur if people consume excess fibre without also increasing their fluid intake. Other side effects can include nausea, tiredness, irritability, acne, weight loss, light-headedness and hunger. Any worsening of symptoms or new symptoms that occur during a detox diet should prompt a visit to a qualified health professional.
If a detox diet is continued for a longer time, it may result in nutrient deficiencies, particularly protein (some detox diets omit animal products) and calcium.
Choosing a Detox Diet Method
Detox diet plans may include a diet recommendations, colonic hydrotherapy, herbs and supplements, and exercise. My husband and I followed a simple yet effective detox plan by Mediherb, which was recommended by a naturopath.
If you are trying a detox diet for the first time, then you might want to take a gentle approach, and gradually eliminate things like caffeine and sugar from your diet, rather than going 'cold turkey'!
Here is a list of Foods to Avoid on a Detox Diet.
Look for a diet that includes all the food groups and don't follow a detox diet for more than a few weeks. Try to use it as a kick start or stepping stone to making more long term lifestyle changes – that way you can feel great and have fabulous skin all year round. If you exercise regularly and follow a healthy balanced diet most of the time then the benefits of a detox diet will be limited.
The Benefits of Supplements:
Supplementing while you are detoxing can help support the elimination of toxins and reduce any detoxification side effects. I used the following doTERRA supplements during my three week detox:
GX Assist (days 1-10), which is a proprietary blend of Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) essential oils and caprylic acid that support a healthy digestive environment. It's a GI cleansing formula that consists of essential oils studied for their effectiveness in detoxifying the GI tract: oregano, melaleuca, lemon, lemongrass, peppermint, and thyme. I started with one capsule a day for three days, then increased to three a day for a week, but one or two a day may be sufficient for some people.
Terrazyme, a digestive enzyme complex which supports the body's enzyme production.
Zendocrine detoxification complex which supports healthy cleansing and filtering functios of the liver, kidneys, colon, lungs and skin.
PB Assist (days 10-15): after cleansing the gut, its very imported to add a probiotic in order to maintain a natural balance within the digestive track. Probiotics are vital in reducing the growth of harmful bacteria, aiding the immune system, digestion, and the absorption of nutrients.
There is a limited scientific evidence that shows the benefits of a detox diet, and the critics say that the body can detoxify on its own as our system has evolved to adequately eliminate new chemicals in our environment without extra assistance.
Many people opt for detox as a last resort because they're often tired or sick. If you find the program is making you feel more nauseous, fatigued or more prone to headaches, the program is probably too rigid and restrictive. Again, always consult your doctor beforehand and make sure that whichever detox diet you try, you drink plenty of water. Exercise is also a really good idea as this will also help eliminate toxins.
Detox is about jump-starting one's healthy lifestyle. One should not complete a detox program then jump right into their old habits again, as then all the benefits will be lost and the weight and a general feeling of being unwell will return. Instead, start a detox diet with the intention of adopting at least one or two new healthy lifestyle changes and stick to them! It will improve your overall health and wellbeing as well as make your next detox a much easier ride!
Here are some links for some other healthy living articles:
Did you know?
Our digestive system is much more than just your stomach; from when you very first put food into your mouth, your body is working hard to break down and absorb the nutrients it needs to function properly. Every part of the system from your oesophegus to your pancreas are interlinked and need to work in harmony, ensuring you absorb the valuable nutrition for the rest of your body to function effectively.
Did you know?
70% of the body's immune system is in the digestive tract
Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria
Your Gastrointestinal (GI) tract is approximately 25 feet long
Recent research has discovered that gut health plans an important role in your emotional well being
Gut health has been associated with skin conditions such as eczema
Tips to improve digestive function
Drink plenty of water, and do this 15-30 minutes before mealtimes
Eat raw fruit and vegetables to help boost natural enzymes and nutrients
Eat fresh, natural and non-processes foods as much as possible
Try fermented foos such as sourcrout, komboucha, kefir etc
Make sure you are getting enough sleep
Avoid stress as much as possible
Eating a well balanced diet and exercising are very important to maintain your digestion, however sometimes we can regularly suffer digestive problems despite a healthy lifestyle. Having the right gut flora (the healthy microbes that help us digest our food, help to balance our hormones and support our immune system) is essential and there are many factors that can cause an imbalance, such as diet, stress, antibiotics etc. An imbalance in gut flora can lead to an overgrowth in candida and a range of health issues. Having suffered from candida and various food intolerances for a number of years, I decided to try essential oils to support my digestive system and had amazing results. You can read more about this and the symptoms of candida here.
Essential oils and natural supplements can play an important role to soothe and support your digestive system using the extraordinary power of nature. There are a few different essential oils and supplements that have some amazing healing properties for the digestive system. Here is an overview of my top choices to help you select the one most suited to your needs.
The 3 Most Powerful Essential Oils To Aid Healthy Digestion
Peppermint has been used in medicine to soothe digestion for a very long time and can be found in most people's cupboards in items such as indigestion tablets and peppermint tea. Peppermint essential oil is a particularly high quality and natural form of peppermint, and as such can be extremely soothing when taken internally. Peppermint essential oil helps to reduce bloating, gas and is acutely calming to the stomach. There is also clinical evidence that suggests peppermint oil is likely to help with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and indigestion..
Peppermint is the first essential oil I ever tried; I immediately felt the benefits of it. In fact I was so surprised with how it made me feel that I changed my lifestyle to include essential oils in my life every day, and I have never looked back.
With its distinctive liquorice aroma and flavour fennel essential oil is particularly good at promoting healthy digestion when you include it as part of your diet. Fennel tea is used as a traditional medicine throughout the world and is thought to have an abundance of health benefits. Fennel can help to prevent and relieve flatulence, it also helps to relieve indigestion, bloating, nausea and excess gas and the associated gastric pain by working as an antispasmodic. Fennel essential oil is a pure and powerful way to soothe your digestion in everyday life.
Ginger, a cooking staple and another plant that has long been used in medicine. Ginger essential oil is a concentrated form of ginger that can be used to help support your digestive system. With a warm and spicy aroma ginger it is rich in anti-oxidants, studies have also shown that ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory, and helps to reduce nausea.
My Top 5 Natural And Powerful Digestive Supplements
DoTerra have developed a natural supplement range for the digestive system. They combine the strength of different essential oils and natural extracts, harnessing the power of the different healing and soothing properties found in nature.
This softgel contains a blend of essential oils well know for their soothing properties. It can help to soothe occasional upset stomachs, reduce uncomfortable gas, help digestion and maintain a healthy digestive tract.
Contains: Essential oils including Ginger, Fennel, Coriander, Peppermint, Tarragon, Anise and Caraway
Enzymes are naturally occurring and help break down your food to convert it into energy during digestion, however they can often be deficient in our modern diets. This supplement provides you with an added boost as it contains a blend of active enzymes and supporting cofactors that are vital to your healthy digestion. I love to use it if I’ve had a big meal or I’m feeling bloated.
Contains: A blend of 10 active whole-food enzymes, Peppermint, Ginger and Caraway Seed essential oils
Zengest GX Assist
This is a natural yet powerful cleansing blend of essential oils and caprylic acid. It helps support a healthy system by creating an unfriendly environment for potential threats that can upset your digestion. It has been developed to be used for 10 days as a cleanser before using the PG Assist+ defense formula. This is a powerful product that helped me over come many years of IBS and food sensitivities.
Contains: Oregano, Melaleuca, Lemon, Lemongrass, Peppermint and Tyme essential oils and Caprylic Acid.
Zengest PB Assist+
You may have heard about prebiotics and probiotics and the benefits to your gut. DoTerra have developed this special supplement to include prebiotic fibre and probiotic organisms in a capsule that is safe for the whole family to include in their diet. It encourages the growth of good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract to support better digestion and nutrient absorption.
Contains: A unique doublelayer capsule (to protect sensitive probiotic cultures from stomach acid), pre-biotic fibre and six strains of probiotic microorganisms
Zengest Zendocrine Complex
This supplement supports your bodys natural detoxification process and supports the liver and other important organs such as your kidneys to remove toxins from the body.
I hope this has helped to give you some insights into the incredible power and benefits of DoTerra products for your digestive health. Please remember that these are powerful oils and supplements and shouldn’t be used without checking directions on how to use these safely. If you’d like advice or to find out more then please do contact me. I can’t wait to help you benefit from these incredible oils and supplements!
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Happy and healthy living!