Drink lots of clean water to avoid dehydration. Picture: Pexels
January is that time of year when after weeks of increased booze and food consumption, we turn our attention to self-improvement including weight loss and healthy eating.

Some associate the sluggish and bloated feeling with excess toxins in the body that might have piled up during the holiday season and they try all sorts of detoxing methods to rejuvenate their bodies.

Nutritional experts argue that eating a well-balanced, nutrition-rich diet consistently and pursuing a healthy lifestyle will eliminate the need to detox or purge after the holidays.

Megan Lee, a registered dietitian from the Health and Stroke Foundation, says that “detox” or a “cleanse” is a drastic diet lasting for a short period of time which promises quick weight loss or other health benefits. But she warns such diets are essentially not balanced.

She says such a dramatic change in diet often causes a deprivation of essential nutrients, including protein, healthy fats and dietary fibre, and can do more harm than good.

“Many juice cleanses contain far too much fruit and therefore far too much sugar and carbohydrates. Weight loss during a detox is often due to water or muscle loss, which is quickly regained once one returns to the normal way of eating. Losing weight too quickly can also play havoc with your metabolism and hunger cues,” she says.

Vanessa Ascencao, VDA nutritional consultant, believes that detoxification has its role in the body.

When you inhale, ingest or absorb toxins, your liver and kidneys work hard to flush them out, she says.

“But if you’re constantly overloading your body with toxins and do not nourish yourself with whole foods and clean fresh water, your body’s natural detoxification system can be inhibited.

“If the body’s detoxification organs such as the liver, gut, skin and kidneys are in good shape all the time, the body will naturally retain a state of constant self-cleansing.”

We should develop a proper nutritional plan that satisfies us and keeps us healthy in a way that is continually cleansing the body of toxins, she says.

“The real work is what you do 90% of the time, day in and day out, not what you do for a week of every year.”

Referring to the question of constant detoxing, she says while juice fasts, eating barley or eating wheat grass for a week may be short-term ways to address toxicity, the long-term answer is to ensure you constantly pursue a healthy lifestyle, consume natural food such as fruit, vegetables, and lean protein and eliminate processed foods and sugar from your diet.

Eliminating dairy products is also believed to help detoxification.

“Humans don’t have the enzymes to digest the lactose (a sugar present in milk). Dairy products also promote the formation of mucous and acid to which most of us are allergic or intolerant.”