To Detox or Not To Detox?

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With so much conflicting information on how to detox or even whether to detox at all, its no wonder it feels so difficult to know what to do, when all we want is improve our health and feel better.

Well, let me help you out a little bit here. Here are some common questions I get asked.

Q. I thought detoxing was juicing fruit and vegetables for a few days, or drinking lemon water with syrup and cayenne?

A. No, these are not detoxes! If you are not in good health, these ‘fad’ programs may do more harm than good. A well designed detox concentrates on eliminating all possible contaminants including but not limited to heavily processed foods, pesticides, BPA, and heavy metals, whilst ensuring the body is equipped with all the macro and micro nutrients it needs for all pathways of elimination to work in tip-top condition. Juice fasts do not proviNever settle for anything less than amazingde all the nutrients needed for our detoxification pathways to work properly. In fact, juice fasts may facilitate a release of toxins into our systems, too much and too quickly, and without the much needed nutrients needed to ensure these toxins get completely eliminated from our bodies. This means the toxins released into our system are circulated and may cause skin to break out, cause rashes, leave you feeling foggy headed, depressed, tired and it may make you feel like you’ve been hit with the biggest bought of flu ever. Depending on how toxic you are, and whether you have other underlying issues, the reactions could even be more severe than those already mentioned.

Q. Aren’t our bodies designed to detox? So, isn’t ‘detoxing’ a waste of time and money?

A. Yes, our bodies are indeed a magnificent design and do take on a lot of daily insults. This does not mean our bodies continue to work efficiently 100% of the time, for the rest of your life. Imagine a new car, working so well year after year but it has never had a yearly service. Eventually components start to wear, work less efficiently, but the car still gets you from A to B. Well, thankfully our bodies do much better than the average car, and they certainly work much better if they don’t need to work extra hard eliminating toxins that we voluntarily choose to put in our bodies. The obvious culprits are smoking, drinking and drugs (some prescription drugs and illegal drugs). The toxins we don’t have as much choice in exposing ourselves to include heavy metals, pollutants, plastics, pesticides, from the air we breath, our place of work and the food we eat, food packaging and water bottles, beauty products and even thermal paper (think receipts!). A well designed detox provides your body with the macro and micro nutrients it needs for each detoxification organ to work. These organs include your liver, kidneys, lungs, skin and colon. All these need an abundant supply of proteins, fats, phytonutrients and micronutrients to work well.

Q. I’ve tried detoxing before and found it so hard to keep up for any length of time. Isn’t it unrealistic to follow these programs?

A well designed detox should not leave you feeling hungry or deprived. Yes, depending on your existing diet and food rituals, you may be required to forgo the weekly take-out meal, Mars bars and white bread. The level of difficulty is really unique from person to person, and it boils down to their perception of food and their relationship with food. Some people find it easy, enjoy the experience and focus on the how good they feel whereas others if they are accustomed to sugary drinks and foods, take-out meals and junk food may find it more of a shock to the taste buds and life routine to make a lot of healthier choices. The good news is, detox programs can be tailored to fit in with the likes and dislikes of each individual. You don’t need to stick with the given program religiously. They can be tweaked accordingly as long as you stay within the parameters of what is considered healthy and stick with the foods and beverages aiding the detoxing process. Working one-on-one with a nutritionist can also provide an added benefit. You’ll receive ongoing support, will be able to ask questions along the way, have access to an expert in case their are side effects or if it starts to feel really unbearable.

Q. Why do I need to detox?

Do you feel tired all the time, suffer from headaches, have trouble with sleeping, have stubborn weight around your middle, have problem skin, issues with fertility, have allergies, are you constipated or feel bloated? Do you drink alcohol, smoke, work with chemicals, walk by the roadside, eat food from tins, packets, buy takeouts in plastic containers, drink water from plastic bottles? Do you use make-up, use big brand shampoo, colour your hair, use fake tan, use body wash or moisturiser? Do you use household bleach, and big brand cleaning products or use air freshener? How much junk food do you eat? How many times do you eat out or buy lunch from a cafe?

If you’re nodding your head to any of the above, congratulations, you’re human. You’ve also been exposed to exogenous toxins. Like most of us. Detoxing your body from one to four times per year will greatly benefit your health in the short term, and in the years to come, how many years that may be.

Do not forgot endogenous toxins, toxins that our own bodies create from everyday metabolic reactions like creating energy, repairing cells, using hormones and neurotransmitters. These can also build up if any or all of our detoxification organs are compromised and can cause an array of issues.

Q. What’s the best way to detox?

I need to stress that the best way is in conjunction with a professional and registered nutritionist. This ensures you are detoxing safely. Buying off the shelf ‘magic’ detox tablets, buying a NutriBullet and consuming green smoothies for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or following a dubious online program by an unqualified Instagrammer will possibly leave you feeling deprived, confused, under nourished, and financially poorer. More importantly and as mentioned earlier, it could result in a release of toxins not being expelled properly and remaining in the system, with the consequence of severe reactions.

If you’d like to find out more about a one-on-one detox with me, or as a group, contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

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Processed Foods, The Low-Down

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We are constantly reminded to either cut down or totally avoid ‘processed foods’ as one of the ‘5 ways to improve your diet’ on social media feeds and the like. But do we know what a processed food is, could there be a better definition for the type of foods we could benefit health-wise from avoiding, and would it help those newly embarking on a healthier lifestyle journey better understand this popular category of food.

For those of us already on our journey to better health, we may not feel we need this to be further explained or defined, or do we? You’re right if you think of items such as biscuits, crisps and soft drinks. But actually most foods we eat are processed.

Food processing, in its true sense, is any deliberate change in a food that occurs before it’s available for us to eat. Food processing typically takes clean, harvested crops or butchered animal products and uses these to produce attractive, marketable and often long shelf-life food products. It can be as simple as freezing meat or drying fruit, to preserve nutrients and freshness, or as complex as formulating a breakfast cereal with added nutrients and preservatives.

Lets take a look at the Raw Food movement, and as a food example, one of Raw Imaginations beautiful creations, the BLT. The ingredients include coconut chips, sunflower seeds, flax, onion, cold pressed olive oil, cashew nuts, coconut aminos, lemon, tomatoes, reverse osmosis water, garlic, lettuce, maple syrup, raw apple cider vinegar, smoked paprika, himalayan salt. The coconut is shredded and dehydrated, the olive oil is pressed, coconut aminos are made from the aged tree sap, apple cider vinegar goes through a couple of fermentation processes, and many of the ingredients are mixed and dehydrated to make the bread portion of the sandwich. Its yummy, and a lot of the raw foodies enjoying this lunch would be proud to claim they are eating a diet of unprocessed foods, but in a sense, they are not.

Not to go through every diet out there available to us, but just to balance it out and not seem as if I am singling out one particular way of eating, but lets look at paleo foodies. The majority would also claim they are enjoying ‘clean’ and ‘unprocessed’ foods. But they do allow alcohol, which is processed, stevia as a sweetener, which is processed, coffee, which is processed, almond milk, which is processed, the list goes on.

I came across one paleo ready made food company advertising “100% Unprocessed Gourmet Meals Delivered To Your Door”. If we were to stick to the true definition of processed here, I’d expect, for example, a delivery of a cow (alive), muddy sweet potatoes, potted herbs, whole coconuts to make your own coconut oil …… you catch my drift?

Now, you see, not all processed foods should be banished to the pantries of hell. The so called ‘processed’ foods most commonly considered as seriously health compromising should either be defined as ‘artificial food’, ‘foodstuffs’, ‘unnaturally processed’ or ‘non-traditionally processed’.

Take a look at the ingredients of the humble Walkers crisp, Thai Sweet Chilli flavour: ‘Potatoes, Sunflower Oil (21%), Rapeseed Oil, Thai Sweet Chilli Seasoning, Salt, Firming Agent (Calcium Chloride),Thai Sweet Chilli Seasoning contains: Sugar, Fructose, Flavouring, Dried BUTTERMILK, Dried Tomato, Dried Onion, Hydrolysed SOYA Protein, Dried Garlic, Dried SOY Sauce (made with WHEAT), Herbs, Basil Extract, Dried Green & Red Peppers, Red Pepper Oil, Chilli Powder, Colour (Paprika Extract)’.

Scary? Is there anything on there where we’d need a degree in food manufacturing to actually know what it is, where it came from, the process in which it was made and what is its purpose. Lets look at one of the ingredients, hydrolysed SOYA protein.

Where did it come from?

Tate and Lyle is one of the European manufacturers but not the only one. One of the main suppliers of soy to the European market is South America.

What exactly is it and what’s its use?

It’s a foodstuff obtained by protein hydrolysis and used as an ingredient with a boullion taste.

How is it made?

The soy is cooked with a diluted hydrochloric acid to extract the aminos (proteins), then after cooling, the hydrolysate is neutralised with either sodium carbonate or sodium hydroxide. The hydrolysate is filtered to remove insoluble carbohydrate fraction and then further refined. Is this actually food?

So, a new definition of these ‘food imposters’ could be defined as ‘any food product that is created or assembled in a radically non-traditional means, especially using industrial or chemical processes that did not exist when the original recipe was developed and/or bear little resemblance to the methods a home cook or baker might use to create a similar product’. What do you think?