Summertime spells holiday, fun, fabulous food and sometimes too much of the things we shouldn’t be filling up on. Delicious treats like yummy (sugar-laden) pavlova; an extra wine or two; a second helping of ham and some tasty Christmas panettone are often too tempting to avoid. It’s OK to indulge here and there, but in excess these temptations are known inflammatory foods that can wreak havoc on our bodies.
The result of days (or weeks) of overindulgence can place strain on your digestive system which can result in an undesirable blend of side effects including brain fog, bloating, lack of energy, headaches and general aches and pains amongst others.
In addition to the abundance of delicious food and beverages that are playing havoc with our system, we can often find ourselves dealing with lingering stress – an overflow from a busy year that may have felt like an exhausting session on the treadmill for 12 months straight. This often leads to fatigue and other symptoms that are the result of a body and mind struggling to cope.
It’s only when we find ourselves run-down that we realise it’s time for a change. To prevent the onset of these symptoms or to treat those we are experiencing, nutritionist and dietician Belinda Reynolds shares her best tips for cleansing our system and getting our health back on track.
Love your liver
The liver is the body’s chief cleansing organ, while the skin, intestines and kidneys play a secondary, yet very important, role. The liver’s job is to process toxins that have entered the blood, and transform them into water-soluble molecules that are removed from the body. The liver needs a helping hand so by reducing your intake of alcohol and inflammatory foods you can take the pressure off and improve this process. Liver cleansing pathways are supported by a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients found in foods like garlic, onions, brazil nuts, fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, brown rice and quinoa. Plus, amino acids from protein in foods such as sardines, nuts, legumes and natural yoghurt are useful also.
It is important for the liver to have the right nutrients in order for the blood cleansing processes to run effectively and efficiently. Your healthcare practitioner can also recommend supplements to support this cleanse.
Exercise stimulates the lymphatic system which helps fluid balance and improves the transport of impurities for ultimate removal from the body. Try exercising at least 30 minutes each day, and mix it up by walking to work, joining a yoga class, taking your goggles to the beach for a swim or taking the stairs when you can.
Pack some protein
Protein helps to metabolise toxins and will improve the cleansing process. Whole brown rice protein is a leading choice among healthcare professionals as it is gluten, dairy and soy-free; three protein sources that some people have difficulty digesting, and that other individuals may be sensitive to.
BioCeuticals Aminoplex Cleanse is a practitioner-only supplement that contains a high quality rice protein made from organic sprouted wholegrain brown rice. It’s advised to ask your health practitioner for guidance regarding your personalised cleanse program. Tip: Add 2 scoops to your smoothie.
Revisit your diet
Make it a New Year’s resolution to reduce the sugar content in your diet. Focus on removing processed foods with added sugar and/or refined grains (e.g. white bread, pasta and rice), and fruit juices that are concentrated sources of fruit sugar (fructose) and devoid of essential fibre. Consuming whole fruits in moderation is still OK as they provide fibre, less sugar per gram, plus many health-promoting nutrients. So stay clear of sweets, cordials, soft drinks and juices and those oh-so-delicious desserts that provide short term pleasure, but long term harm to our health goals.
Liquid your way
It is important to drink at least two litres of water per day to stay hydrated and to help flush out the toxins in your body. Top up your liquids with caffeine-free herbal teas and fresh vegetable juices. These beverages are great to nourish your body and also help to maintain a healthy digestive system.
The environment we live in is laden with toxins that affect our natural body functions. During your cleanse, try to live as ‘clean’ an existence as possible avoiding hairspray; cosmetics which contain parabens and phthalates; synthetic fragrances (use natural essential oils); pesticides (found on our fruit and veggies unless you buy organic from your local market); household cleaning agents (unless you use eco-friendly brands). Convert to BPA-free plastic containers, or use glass, or better still, eat fresh food on a day to day basis, at least during this time.
The more you reduce your exposure to inflammatory agents as well as environmental toxins during your cleansing program, the better chance you have of a reduced toxic burden on your body. The outcome will have you feeling energetic, happy and light in being. Enjoy!
Remember to speak to your healthcare practitioner for more information about cleansing.
Are you starting a summer cleanse?
Julia has lived and worked in London, Amsterdam, and New York, and is obsessed with food. She's either cooking or thinking about what to eat next. Follow Julia on Twitter.