NOLUYANDA James*(25) feels under pressure to lose weight as this has been the hot topic at work lately. A colleague told her that the first thing she needed to do before going on a diet was to detox. Not understanding this, she consulted Daddy Matthews, a dietician from Polokwane in Limpopo.
WHAT IS DETOXING?
Losing weight should start with a good detox or cleanse. Detoxing can help your body to eliminate waste products and toxins, restore your health and boost your metabolism. According to Daddy, who works for the Department of Health and is also the owner of a company called DNC and Associate, it’s important to know what detoxing is before you even attempt to do it. He explains, “Detoxing, which is mainly carried out by the liver, is a process of ridding the body of toxic or harmful substances. It improves your health, energy levels, resistance to disease, mental state and digestion. It's also believed to aid weight loss.” The benefits you'll get from a detox diet or cleanse depend on how restrictive it is. If you choose to do a very restrictive diet or cleanse, it should last no longer than three days. This type of detox is not recommended. If you are just trying to add more lean protein, fruit and veggies to your diet, and to reduce alcohol and fizzy drink intake, you can aim to maintain those changes for as long as you want to.
IS DETOXING IMPORTANT?
What most people don’t know is that toxins can build up in your body for years. Daddy says most foods and supplements people consume these days have toxic ingredients that they are not even aware of. “To the best of my knowledge, you are not forced to detox if you maintain a generally healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, there is no clinical investigation on a detox diet that has been conducted so although the general belief is that it’s helpful, not detoxing has also not been proven to be problematic,” Daddy explains. He says the reason for this is that the liver eliminates harmful substances at all times, therefore detoxing automatically happens.
RISK OF DETOXING
Daddy explains that most detox diets do not meet daily protein and energy requirements. “Other health risks of strict detox diets relate to severe energy restriction and nutritional inadequacy. Extreme fasting can lead to protein and vitamin deficiencies and other potentially fatal problems,” he says. He also mentions that detox dieters are also at risk of overdosing on supplements and laxatives. “Consumers should keep in mind that the human body has highly sophisticated mechanisms for eliminating toxics. The liver, kidneys, skin and lungs all play a role in the excretion of unwanted substances, and without chemical intervention,” he explains.
A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE IS BEST
A balanced diet is the best way to keep your body in good form and naturally detoxifying itself without having to resort to diets that will only lead to starvation. A balanced diet includes all five food groups – whole grains, fruit, vegetables, protein and diary. People need to eat the right quantities of foods from all food groups in order to lead a healthy life. You have to look for food that contains important nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins and minerals. For example, when we consume enough fresh fruits and vegetables (at least five servings per day), we’re filled with nutrients that help the body function properly. A fibre-rich diet also helps us to have regular bowel movements, which is one way our bodies rid themselves of excess waste.
NATURAL WAYS TO DETOX YOUR BODY
¦ CUT OUT SUGAR
If you eat more sugar, you ask your body for more insulin, straining your pancreas and wearing yourself out. This kind of habit can cause you to pack on excess weight and become chronically fatigued or diabetic.
¦ START YOUR DAY WITH WATER
Drink a glass of water with juice from half a lemon in the morning. Lemon helps to re-hydrate the system and promotes digestion. This will help the flow of waste out our bodies.
¦ MOVE YOUR BODY
Regular exercise encourages circulation in the blood and lymph system. Doing so will also enhance digestion, reduce tension, lubricate joints and strengthen your body. People who exercise regularly have far fewer toxins in their bodies.
¦ EAT ORGANIC FOOD
You should eat whole plant foods because processed foods lack the nutrients your body needs. Dark green vegetables, for instance, are full of micronutrients and are very low in calories. You can eat a lot of them so that your body can detox naturally.