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By The Fig & the Olive

  • Farah Ahmed

Detox Part 1: THE BODY


Has the thought of detoxing this year crossed your mind? Chances are it has. With January almost coming to an end, it may feel as if you’ve left it too late. Maybe next year…..

But wait! It’s not too late. Indeed, the New Year is synonymous with starting afresh and creating new and positive change. But positive change can come at any time of the year. You just need a little motivation to get you going.



WHY WE NEED TO DETOX

Did you know that digestion uses up a large amount of the body’s energy? It is in fact one of the most strenuous activities that the body carries out. Allowing your digestive system a rest gives it a chance to rejuvenate allowing it to perform at its best, thereby protecting you from disease and increasing your vitality. The ultimate rest and of course detox is Ramadan, but a few of us may be feeling the effects of recent seasonal overindulgences and craving an internal cleanse a little sooner.

We are living in an increasingly toxic world. Even with the best intentions, we find ourselves exposed to an astounding amount of toxins on any given day, from the food we eat to the water we drink and the air we breathe. Mercury and PCBs in the fish that we eat, antibiotics and hormones that are injected into poultry and cattle whilst producing dairy products and then slaughtered and eaten, to pesticides being sprayed over crops to ‘enhance’ them for an ever-increasing human population. Even the cosmetics and toiletries that line the supermarket shelves are full of chemicals, not to mention plastic packaging that we buy our food and water in. 

Toxins are also produced naturally in the body as bi-products of the digestive process. Some of these intermediate products can be harmful when poorly detoxified (such as oestrogen), and some of these toxins are released from ‘bad bacteria’ and toxins that have made an unwelcome home in our guts.

Our bodies do a pretty amazing job of clearing this waste out but sometimes it does take it’s toll. When the toxic load begins to accumulate, the body struggles to deal with this effectively and so it can cause disease and disharmony in the body. 



SIGNS THAT YOU NEED A DETOX

  1. Sluggish digestion- bloating, gas, pain, sluggish bowel movements

  2. Fatigue and lethargy regardless of how many coffees you have!

  3. Food sensitivities 

  4. Bad skin- acne, eczema, itchiness 

  5. Difficulty losing weight

  6. Lowered immunity

  7. Puffy eyes or bags under the eyes

  8. Cravings

But it’s not all doom and gloom! Our body’s are extremely responsive to any positive change made, effects of which you will start to see in a few short weeks. Here’s how to start. 



RESETTING YOUR SYSTEM

The idea is to effectively mobilise toxins in your body,  encouraging them to leave, and then feeding healthy nutrients back into the system.

  • Set yourself a timeframe and stick to it- 10 days to 2 weeks is a good amount of time to feel some significant changes.

  • Meal planning- Fail to prepare, then prepare to fail!! This is key to a successful detox. Decide in advance what you will be eating for the week ahead and go grocery shopping before you start so you have everything you need. Finding yourself hungry after a long day at work with no food in the fridge will make that late-night take away incredibly appealing. 

  • Stop all sugar- there is no better way to do this than by going 'cold turkey’. Sodas, drinks, teas, shop-bought sauces and condiments, artificial sweeteners, desserts (obviously!). Although  dates and honey are natural sources, do not over-eat them. Replace sweet cravings with some apples, berries or fruit of your choice and sweeten food and drinks with cinnamon.

  • Stop coffee and tea for this period- if you are a big drinker, then gradually reduce the number of cups down until you get the Day 1 of your detox to avoid withdrawal headaches. Replace with herbal teas instead like dandelion, nettle, fennel and ginger which are all great liver detoxifiers.

  • Drink Green tea - although this does contain caffeine, the benefits far outweigh any negative. Owing to the powerful compounds contained within it, it is linked to weight loss, reduction in inflammation and cancer prevention.

  • Start your morning with a squeeze of lemon in water or with 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar (with “the mother”- the ball of enzymes that gives it its amazing detoxifying properties). 

  • Keep hydrated- drink at least 1.5 to 2 litres water per day to flush those toxins out. Ideally drink warm or room temperature water- not ice cold.

  • Fill your fridge with greens- saute them, juice them, eat them raw. However you can get them in to your diet, do it. They help improve elimination and help transport toxins out of the body as well as bombarding the system with much needed anti-oxidants.

  • Make 3 of these days juice only days where you are allowing the digestive system to really rest. Juices, soups, herbal teas and water only.

  • Sweat those toxins out by visiting a steam room or sauna regularly.

  • Don’t forget to keep moving- exercise is a must during this time.

  • Remove toxic foods- all processed foods and hydrogenated fats. Go au naturale and cook from fresh as much as you can!

  • Aim to go gluten-free these 2 weeks to see how it makes you feel. Cut out heavier dairy products like cheese or cream.

  • Buy organic and free-range as far as possible.

  • Choose natural cosmetics and toiletries- look products that are parabens and SLS-free. 

  • Get rid of non-stick frying pans- these contain PFCs. Use ceramic pans to cook with instead.


DETOX EFFECTS

Within the first week, you may feel a little tired and sluggish as you try to adjust to the reduced caffeine levels and the lack of sugar. Your skin may start to ‘break out’ as toxins are purged from your body. Give it a week, and you will start to feel revived and energetic, no longer craving those very things that you thought you couldn’t do without. Longer still and your skin will clear revealing a more ‘glowing’ you with weight loss as an added bonus.

So that’s all there is to it! Give your body a much needed clean out, it will surely thank you for it. Do let me know how it goes!



PLEASE NOTE- People suffering with chronic health conditions or on long-term medication are advised to see a qualified health professional for a personalised plan.



TO FOLLOW-  Detox Part 2: The Mind

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