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Diets I could understand but detox – what’s all this about? Why did you need to detox to lose weight? Why would toxins keep you from losing weight? Actually what are these toxins that everyone was talking about? I must say I was sceptical but it did sound like a nice idea to purge myself from impurities and reappear refreshed and vibrant. So what was the theory and rationale for all this? 

Rewinding somewhat lets look at toxins. The toxins that are referred to are both physical and mental triggers that lead to an inflammatory reaction in the body. The inflammation is low grade and slow  but leads to cumulative damage to the body. A bit like the relentless drip of water that carves out huge channels in rock. This leads to chronic illness such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disease. Sometimes the inflammation just manifests itself as dis-ease – tiredness, recurrent chronic low grade infections, sinusitis and reflux. People just don’t feel right. Toxins can be mental such as overwork, relationship problems and financial difficulty. Physical toxins are toxic chemicals, heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium, allergens like gluten and lactose and chronic infections. They all interact with your genes to give you your own special response to these stressors.  

So the aim of a detox is to eliminate as many of these stressors as possible and work out what is right for you. To do this we start with as much of a clean slate as possible by eliminating as many of the toxins as we can. This can be especially difficult with food. What is there left to eat if you take away the refined sugar, gluten, lactose and the starchy carbohydrates (this last step is to reduce that sugar rush you experience with starchy foods). This why so many recommend protein shakes, juices and smoothies to eat clean. And actually that’s just it – eat clean by getting rid of processed food, eliminate dairy, gluten and GMO to reduce inflammation. But for how long? The inflammatory response has several mediators but the longest lived are antibodies which last about 23 days. So ideally a detox should be a little longer. Conveniently 30 days is also how long it takes to establish a habit so useful when learning to eat clean. So once you have wiped the slate clean you reintroduce food groups so you can see your body’s reaction to them. Some people are ok with gluten others are not. The same goes for lactose. So now you have an awareness of what foods  makes you dull or even ill.  

As the 30 days go by the toxins are eliminated from your body through normal excretory pathways but even more so with all the anti-oxidants in the vegetables you are taking. Interestingly one of the theories is that toxins build up in fat especially abdominal fat. And as the body prefers the toxins safely locked up in fat stores rather than running around in your blood stream it has a reason to hold onto belly fat. Ever wondered why it’s so hard to let go of your fat on a diet? As we let go of the toxins the fat becomes redundant and so the body can get rid of it. I don’t know of any studies that have measured the toxins in different areas of fat but it’s a neat idea. And haven`t we doctors known for years that abdominal obesity is a strong indicator for developing diseases like diabetes.  

From my work as a GP I know the psychological stressors have a huge part to play in maintaining a healthy weight. And also stress can lead to illness. So work on your minds as well when doing a detox. Meditation, hydration and getting enough sleep all play a part.   

So that’s the theory but what does it involve in practice? Eliminating causes of excessive inflammation is the key. So eliminate processed food, refined sugar, gluten, lactose and GMO such as soy. You are left with organically raised meat and vegetables. Lots of coloured vegetables and plenty of purified water to help the body naturally get rid of toxins. Realistically for the average person this is very hard to incorporate into a normal day. So as I mentioned before shakes and smoothies are a convenient way to replace one or two meals. Snack on nuts and berries. And make sure you are eating good fats (…a twist on convention that I will be writing on in the near future). There are several ways to detox but get the support of an experienced practitioner to help you through the highs and lows. It might take a few attempts but just like a child learning to walk we get better after each fall. Then welcome in the new healthy you! 

Arbonne 30 days to Healthy Living is a fantastic way to start the detox process. With online support and a guidance booklet it will keep you on track. In addition there are supplements and weight loss support products that can be recommended to you depending on your previous experience with diets and detox. Just get in touch. Detox is safe but if pregnant, breast feeding or on medication please do discuss with your doctor first.