We hear it all the time! “I need to lose weight, but first I must do a detox.” And around this time of the year when we are recovering from the festive season, almost everyone is looking for concoctions to help them detox. The fact is you do not need to cleanse your system with smoothies, juices and all the other products floating around. A healthy pair of kidneys and a well-functioning liver performs the job quite well without the fad diets which tend to deprive the body of nutrients. Desi Horsman, nutritionist, speaker and wellness expert, explains to Fitness Chat why you don’t need to detox to lose weight.
THE DANGERS OF DETOXING
According to Desi, a proper detox needs nutrients because you need to feed your liver properly for you to be able to lose weight. The liver is designed to help the body get rid of anything potentially harmful or toxic. All your elimination organs need the correct fuel to break down and remove toxins.
Juice fasts and other crash diets do not provide enough nutrients even though they appear to have health benefits. These popular detox programs often release toxins from tissues such as fat cells and deposit them into other parts of the body, including the brain, ultimately causing more damage. At the end of the program you, in fact, lose muscle and not fat as intended.
How your system works to detoxify
“Along with filtering your blood to remove toxins, your liver uses a two-phase process to break down chemicals and toxins,” says the nutritionist.
Desi explains that during phase 1, toxins are neutralised using stores of Vitamin B, Vitamin C, glutathione, phospholipids and folate (from the food that you eat), and broken into smaller fragments. These become toxic free radicals and have to be removed fast.
In phase 2, these free radicals go on to combine with the selenium and amino acids in the liver to become water soluble and non-toxic molecules that can be excreted in your bile, urine, or stool provided there is enough water and fibre. Therefore, protein intake is essential during any detox program.
“If the body does not have the correct nutrients or enough fibre, the toxins are reabsorbed into the blood stream and re-circulate. To protect you from this toxicity, fat tissue holds on to the toxins and in turn, your body will hold on to the fat. This renders weight loss impossible until your liver is able to process the toxins effectively,” Desi explains.
What you should do instead of detoxing
You should eat more:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables in general, including parsley, citrus, nuts, green tea, and berries. Glutathione-rich vegetables like avocados, carrots, broccoli, spinach, apples, asparagus, melons and Sulphur-rich foods like onion, garlic, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale. Add two additional servings a day.
- Selenium supplements or foods such as oats, eggs, and Brazil nuts.
- Fibre supplements or from fresh fruit and veg, nuts, seeds, lentils and peas. Add flaxseeds to your meals.
- High-quality protein from grass-fed animals and not farmed fish.
- Lastly, drink a glass of warm lemon water every morning. To detoxify effectively you need to maintain hydration levels throughout the day. This should be part of your daily routine and not just once or twice a year.
The best way to detox
If you feel you need to detox, just take a break from foods that overload your organs like alcohol, caffeine, sugar and all processed foods. Feed your liver the right fuel so that it can process the excess hormones and toxins and eliminate them from your body.
Detoxing is just one of the many fitness myths. Read here for more Fitness myths.
Desi Horsman’s credentials:
- 1992 Bachelor of Commerce from Wits University
- 1999 Certified Nutritionist from Life Science Institute, Texas (now in Canada)
- 2012 Diploma in Nutritional Supplementation from the International Academy of Nutrition, Australia
- 2013 Diploma in Clinical Nutrition from the International Academy of Nutrition, Australia
- 2013 Certified Wellness Coach from Wellness Coaching Australia