Durban - All the food, alcohol, late nights and partying over the festive period eventually takes a toll on your body. Here, dietician Helen de Beer provides some tips on how to beat the seasonal bloat.
Come January, we’re all desperate for a good, clean detox, which is why cutting out the alcohol, getting in some exercise, eating healthily and adding wholesome foods into your diet can really help refresh your eating habits.
Detox diets often conjure up thoughts of starvation and feeling weak and fatigued, but there is a way to detox healthily and in a way that will leave you feeling energised.
Dietician Helen de Beer says trendy diets such as a fast of water or juice may actually cause muscle wasting, and in order to detox properly and enhance your body’s natural detoxification process – providing adequate fuel for cleansing and other daily activities – your body needs nutrients including good quality protein, carbohydrates and targeted nutritional support.
A detox itself is the body’s natural process of metabolising and eliminating toxins from the body. Toxins are anything that can potentially harm body tissue, and can be produced naturally, ingested through our diet or inhaled from our environment. While our bodies perform the detox process by themselves, it is thought that certain food types and herbs can assist the process, and even help to speed it up.
Here are De Beer’s top 10 detox tips:
Consume whole foods as close to their natural state as possible
This will ensure you will be taking in a large variety of nutrients in their natural form. Whole foods also contain more fibre compared to processed and refined foods, which is very important for gut health and stabilising blood sugar levels.
Avoid all processed and refined foods and eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit whenever possible. This will boost your antioxidant intake, which will assist your body’s detox processes. Focus on consuming five different colours of vegetables and fruit (red – tomatoes, green – broccoli, yellow/orange – carrots, blue – aubergine/blueberries, and white – onion) every day to get in a good variety of nutrients and antioxidants).
Eliminate trigger foods
Avoid foods such as caffeine, sugar and gluten as well as smoked and fried foods and alcohol. A high intake of smoked and fried foods, as well as sugar and alcohol, has been linked to increased risk for various cancers.
Avoid artificially sweetened drinks, as well as sugar-filled or caffeinated drinks. Keep to herbal teas and green tea rich in antioxidants, and drink plenty of clean water to help your body flush toxins.
Sleep well and often
Sleep is an essential recovery process for your body. Try to get eight hours of deep sleep every night.
Practice slow eating and eating without distractions
Mindful eating is very useful as you become much more aware of how much food you are eating, as well as what foods you are consuming.
The benefit to be derived from eating slowly is that it allows your body to recognise satiety (or that you are full) and to avoid over-eating. Chewing food well also assists in easing digestion.
Stress is strongly associated with many diseases of lifestyle including heart disease and cancers. Incorporate practices such as yoga meditation and exercise into your daily routines to help relieve stress and thus improve health outcomes.
Eat three square meals
Be sure to have three meals a day that each include a protein (such as fish), carbohydrate (vegetables, legumes, wholegrain rice) and healthy fat (avocado/olives/raw nuts and seeds), and eat a small healthy snack, such as vegetable crudités and hummus, between meals to balance blood sugar levels.
Decrease red meat intake to once a week
Rather increase fish intake and lentils to make up the protein for the majority of meals. Fish is a complete protein that is much easier to digest than red meat, and legumes contain protein and carbohydrate and a high amount of fibre as well as many nutrients such as B vitamins, which are essential for many biological processes including energy production and replication of DNA.
Eliminate potential food intolerances
Cut down, or cut out, foods such as dairy, soya, corn and gluten and re-introduce slowly while monitoring your reaction.
Avoid white carbs
Try to avoid carbohydrates such as bread and pasta, opting for complex carbohydrates instead (potatoes and wholegrain cereals are good sources). These foods contain vital fibre, vitamins and minerals and break down slowly in the body, prevent hunger pangs and helping maintain steady blood sugar levels.
l Helen de Beer is a dietician at DNAlysis Biotechnology which comprises scientists with expertise in human genetics, molecular biology, nutritional genomics (nutrigenomics) and dietetics. - The Mercury