What is a detox diet?

For some detox might mean two weeks of juicing or fasting, for others it might mean simply a ‘dry January’, free of booze.   Personally, now that Christmas is well and truly over, I am attempting to avoid wine for the next few weeks and will be switching from black tea to green tea, which is much richer in antioxidant polyphenols. I will be telling my clients to try and cut out refined sugar and processed food and to fill their plates with colourful plant foods, raw nuts and seeds and good quality protein.

In her book ‘Whole Detox’ Dr Diana Minich emphasises the importance of plant foods and of eating a broad variety of vegetables and fruits to obtain important phytonutritients (plant chemicals).   She gives a special mention to broccoli sprouts, three-to-four day old broccoli plants that look like alfalfa sprouts and taste like radishes, which are thought to help amplify the liver’s ability to detox.  Dr Minich makes the interesting point that we should also be focused on an emotional detox as no amount of salad will give us optimal health if our emotions are all over the place.  If, for example, we are in an unhealthy relationship, it’s this we should be sorting out before we go crazy with a juice fast. If we are stressed we upset the balance of hormones in the body and raised cortisol levels can cause weight gain and be a major contributor to insulin resistance.

My 5 detox tips for January:

  1. Start the day with hot water and fresh lemon rather than your normal cuppa as this will wake up your digestive system and put you in the right frame of mind for a healthy-eating day. Try adding a slice of fresh ginger and some cayenne pepper to your lemon water to increase the level of detoxifying antioxidants. You might like to try a protein smoothie for breakfast made with pea, rice, soy or whey protein powder added to berries and almond/soy/coconut milk.
  1. For lunch think salad and soup – include as many vegetables as possible in your salad and make your own soup as it will be more nutritious than shop-bought. Each time you make soup, make enough to freeze a couple of portions for a later date. Ideally use home-made bone broth as stock as this has been shown to have important gut healing benefits, but if you are short on time Marigold bouillon makes an excellent instant stock.
  1. Cooked vegetables and protein make a healthy detox supper – steam, stir fry or roast your veg alongside some good quality chicken, fish, tofu or pulses. Stir fry with olive or coconut oil rather than vegetable/sunflower oil to avoid creating more toxins.
  1. Exercise daily by walking or taking a yoga or pilates class as this is restorative exercise. If you have sufficient energy exercise so that you sweat as sweating is a good means of detoxifying the body, otherwise saunas are a good alternative – have Have as many as possible during your detox but remember to drink plenty of water.
  1. Consider taking some supplements to enhance your liver’s ability to detoxify. My favourite detox supplement is Ultra Clear plus pH by Nutri Advanced which can be taken on its own or as part of Nutri’s 14 day NutriClean programme. N-Acetyl-l-Cysteine (NAC) and Alpha-Lipoic-Acid are also both excellent supplements for enhanced detoxification and are available from good health shops.  If you don’t want to take supplements, increase your intake of green vegetables for optimal detox – artichokes, asparagus, green beans, avocados, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts and kale.   Give your digestion a break by cutting down on your portion sizes of meat and grains.

Alli Godbold

Alli Godbold is a qualified nutritional therapist, specialising in weight loss, fatigue and digestive and hormonal health. She is also a certified gluten practitioner. Alli has worked forThe Food Doctor and currently works as nutritionist for The Healthy Holiday Company and is a regular contributor to Healthista.com.  She runs frequent cookery workshops from her West London kitchen and has published a popular cookery book Feed Your Health.   She created the Nourish diet for weight loss and improved health and has recently published a book of healthy recipes for her Nourish clients More Nourish Diet Recipes