If you didn’t detox in January, here are some reasons why you should give your body a break in February. When toxins are not eliminated, they get reabsorbed and that’s when you gain fat and retain water. You might know that the liver is responsible for dealing with alcohol. However, the other 499 functions it carries out are all fundamental to our health and fat level, says fitness expert Iain Mahony.
The liver is the key organiser of chemical matter in the body. Just think how many toxins we are exposed to everyday from the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. If you can’t get rid of them, you increase your toxic load and impair your body’s ability to burn fat. When we eat processed foods and drink too much, the liver becomes stressed, over worked, and unable to do its job properly. To add to that, less exercise means less blood is flushed through the liver.
What are some of key functions of the liver when it is working effectively?
- Making bile and cholesterol, enabling you to break down fat and make hormones
- Maintaining immunity
- Storing vitamins and minerals
- Balancing hormones (excreting oestrogen, activating thyroid and leaving us lean and happy)
- Controlling glucose and fat supplies (keeping blood sugar and energy levels balanced)
- Phase one detoxification – gathering toxic waste i.e. filling a bin bag (hormones, alcohol, caffeine, medicine and antibiotics)
- Phase two detoxification – conjugation (waste binds with/sticks to something to allow movement to the kidneys for excretion) i.e. putting the rubbish out.
Clients often attribute fat loss to alcohol abstinence (fewer calories). True in part, but they are also less stressed, less toxic, sleeping better, making better food choices and have better hormonal balance. They can train harder too. Here are some basic steps you can take to mitigate the damage – having a few weeks off drinking is a given:
- Take a good quality multivitamin as an insurance policy: If you take, for example, zinc and selenium A, C, E, you are not going to be able to utilise them effectively as all vitamins and minerals work in synergy. You need a multi as an umbrella. In my experience, clients cannot always discern how it has helped but their general state of well-being is almost always improved. They are more balanced.
- Include antioxidants in your diet: a cup of green tea in warm water with half a lemon twice a day is a good way to stay alkaline, lower the GI of food and ensure that you get a good dose of antioxidants. Vitamin E is also a good source (dark green vegetables and nuts – go on, finish those sprouts!)
- Eat foods that will aid phase two: Garlic, onion, leeks and egg yolk are all good bets. Turmeric is also a good addition
- Stay hydrated
- Lay off the fruit: Fructose does not act like other sugars. It can only be digested in the liver. Eat a broad range of vegetables instead for a few weeks.
- Start with a realistic, sensible goal. People often work in extremes. Horrible Christmas, impeccable New Year. Be patient and implement change gradually. To ensure you are as efficient as possible and maximise progress, find a practitioner who can devise a nutrition, exercise and supplementation programme that is tailored to your body and needs.
- Don’t cut out protein: Try not to follow a detox plan that requires you to cut out all protein. You might end up lighter, but a large proportion of the weight you lose will be muscle.