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Is detoxing nonsense and can it help with bloating?

Posted 4 years ago by Clare

It’s that time of year again! Really? Already? Christmas is over, it’s the new year and we tend to go into panic mode about our health after having drunk too much, eaten ‘naughty’ foods and possibly been on cold and flu tablets. We often feel rather run down, sluggish and bloated. Is it therefore time for the detox??

Water is a vital part of supporting your body in detoxification
A recent article in The Guardian has been deeply scathing of the ‘detox industry’ basically calling it a sham. Do we agree with that? I think to a certain degree the author of the article may have a point in that there are indeed some products which are costly, and might be missing the point about what the body really needs. However do we agree with him that detoxing is a load of nonsense? Well it really depends on what is meant by detoxing or more specifically what it means for you in particular.

The official definition is that it is a process whereby you are ridding your body of toxins and poisons. A build up of these can cause all sorts of symptoms including bloating. The article argues that we don’t need to detox our bodies as they are programmed to detox themselves. However, I think it may be an issue with terminology more than anything else as I believe that many people see ‘going on a detox’ as a bit of a health drive, a conscious effort to look after ourselves again.

I think the one issue with ‘detoxing’ is that some people regard what is essentially a healthier lifestyle, as a one off situation for a month. However, it really is about balance. One month of drinking just water, purging ourselves of our guilt for the bottle of prosecco we hid under our chair at the party, only to be followed by two weeks of binging to make up for it, is in my opinion not really that healthy.

However, if detoxing could be renamed so that it indicates a period in your life where you become more aware of the stresses and strains your body is under, the support it could need and where you could improve on what you eat in order to support the organs in your body to do THEIR natural job of detoxification, then I agree totally! Detoxing could be seen as a few weeks of loving your body, nurturing it and being aware of what you might be eating, drinking or your lifestyle which could be undermining it – surely this is a good thing. Not only this but it can re-educate people as to how good they can feel when not eating processed foods, drinking rum and cokes and forgetting to ever drink a glass of water. It’s an opportunity to adjust your diet and lifestyle to reduce symptoms such as weight gain, headaches, tiredness and bloating.

And isn’t the proof in the pudding? If it makes you feel better then surely it’s doing you good?

So can detoxing help with bloating?

The answer is yes it can. Essentially detoxing is cutting out the foods and drinks that are not good for you and increasing the foods and drinks which help support the body’s natural detoxification processes.
Our body has a natural protective drive to detoxify, the liver being the main organ that processes toxins, packages them up and sends them off to be excreted. The body also uses the kidneys, skin and lungs to detoxify. What a lot of people don’t realise is that our liver and our gut are closely linked. When toxins are not processed properly by our liver due to it being under pressure or not having the correct nutrients to metabolise toxins, they get reabsorbed by our gut making our gut more ‘toxic’. One of the consequences of this is bloating. It works both ways as well in that a healthy gut puts less pressure on our liver. Not ure you want the whole detox? Here is a list of the top ten foods to keep bloating at bay.

So how do we detox to help with bloating?

Of course there are a lot of products out there which are sold as being absolutely necessary to help detox. But you don’t need to spend all of that money. Here is a list of simple, cheap and affective ways to help SUPPORT your body in its natural detoxification process.

Your greens contain nutrients required for liver detoxification

  • Drink more water – your body needs water to flush our toxins. Many of us think we are drinking enough. Test yourself. Count up the glasses of water you have on an average day then measure those glasses into a jug. You may be surprised how little you’re drinking. Fill a 1.5 litre bottle and drink that over the day at least.
  • Drink warm water with lemon first thing in the morning – this is incredibly cleansing. The warm water gently kick starts awake our digestive system in the morning and the lemon stimulates our digestive juices reducing potential for bloating.
  • Cut out processed food – these are full of sugar, salt and trans fats. All of these products take us feel bloated and put pressure on our liver.
  • Cut out sugar as much as possible – sugar is a real evil for bloating. It tends to feed our pathogenic (bad) bacteria in our gut which then release gases making us feel bloated. Sugar also has to be processed by the liver. It actually is one of the main causes for fatty liver as it gets stored as fat in the liver when there is too much of it.
Sugar is a toxin to the liver and can contribute towards bloating
  • Eat more protein – many people don’t realise the importance of protein for health. Protein is actually very supportive for liver function as the amino acids it gets broken down into are vital for the metabolic processes. Eat a range of protein if possible including your vegetable protein (such as lentils, beans, chickpeas)! Don’t forget that this will benefit your bloating in the long run but if you have issues digesting protein it may be an idea to consider taking digestive enzymes alongside for a while.
  • Reduce caffeine – caffeine aggravates the digestive system, blocks the absorption of some nutrients and has to be detoxified by the liver. Avoid this or lessen the load and you will feel less bloated.
  • Have four or more alcohol free days a week – there is an argument for cutting out alcohol altogether. By all means this will be good for you but not if involves a binge afterwards. There is research to suggest that moderate drinking is not harmful. However, try to stick to a quality glass of wine rather than anything too processed and sweet such as alcopops.
Vital green will help with a gentle detox
  • Take vitamin C and a green supplement such as chlorella. I like the brand vital greens – you can add it to water or a green smoothie. It contains a massive range of nutrients and will give your whole body gentle support in detoxing as well as other vital metabolic functions. Milk thistle is also a well known liver support. And again remember that supporting the liver will help reduce bloating. We like Milk Thistle by A Vogel.

Exercise is good for both the body and the soul
  • Get moving. Exercise is well known for supporting gut health as it helps encourage peristalsis of the gut and therefore elimination – again supporting both detoxification and lessening bloating. All exercise ranging from running to yoga helps.
  • Eat your veg! Never underestimate the importance of vegetables for both the intake of fibre, increase in vital nutrients as well as making you feel satiated. Aim for 10 a day. You may not manage this but if you aim high you are more likely to eat more.

These tips all work well together but if you can’t manage them all maybe just pick a few to start with and see how you feel. Skin brushing and Epsom salt baths are also pampering, relaxing and helpful. Once you start to feel more vital, and less tired and bloated then consider adding a few more of the above tips to your daily regime. You may even decide to keep it up past January! So really whether the detox industry is right or wrong, looking after your health and supporting your body to achieve optimum detoxification is surely a good thing. Isn't it?

If you found this blogpost interesting you may like to read about how stress can cause bloating.

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