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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is the best way to detox?

    Related Topic
    I'm feeling really sluggish and can't seem to shift the fat around my belly. I've recently given up smoking (5 weeks now) and I'm trying to reduce my alcohol consumption. I eat relatively well (no meat and little fat) most of the time and feel like I need a really good cleanse/detox. I'd love to do a 10 day detox but hear so many conflicting things about how safe they are. Can you recommend a detox programme that is safe and gentle, yet effective and cleansing?
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    Kylie Royal

    Exercise Physiologist, Personal Trainer

    Director, Exercise Physiologist & Personal Trainer. Kylie’s determination and passion in striving for ultimate health & success is what has led her to a successful … View Profile

    First of all well done on quitting smoking- a huge achievement!
    Detoxing/ cleansing is an interesting topic and everyone. Seems to have an idea or opinion. You are right in listening to your body and acknowledging that it feels sluggish or congested.
    There are many Types of detoxes with varying levels of success and severity. 
    Personally I recommend starting with a period of clean and disciplined eating. Taking 10 to 14 days of eliminating sugar, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, yeast and meat. Basically that leaves you with vegetables , fruits, nuts and seeds. This is a great way to allow the body th chance to relax and heal. After you have tolerated this you can look at detoxes with added supplements. At our clinic we have a nutrition and lifestyle specialist who helps you structure a cleanse to suit your bodies specific needs. Off the shelf detox programs are a big no no in my eyes. 
    Also, I'd be interested to find out why you have elimInated meat and fats?? Was this a personal choice? These foods are vital nutrition sources and good fats play a huge part in reducing bad fats - ie: those stored around the abdominal region. 
    I look forward to discussing this further!

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    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    I am thrilled to see you have given up smoking - that is the first step in detoxing, the next is eliminating alcohol. Living in a healthy balanced way is the best advice I can give you for feeling good and healthy all the time. The body has natural mechanisms of getting rid of toxins, you should not have to eliminate food groups or go on any drastic detox diets. Eat a well balanced diet of fruit, veges, salad, fish, chicken, nuts, grains, low fat dairy in small portions and you will find you feel better. Eliminate processed foods, high fat and sugary foods. Incorporate a daily exercise regime. Get 8 hours sleep each night and make a point of having “me” time every day.

    Balance is the key to feeling well, healthy and full of energy!

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    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    Congratulations on quitting smoking, its not an easy feat to achieve but you did it! Keep up with reducing your alcohol consumption too, its a great way to get rid of excess energy that our bodies could do without when it comes to losing weight.

    The best advice I can give you is to:

    • limit caffeine, alcohol, sugar drinks and high sugar foods (processed foods)
    • decrease the 'bad' saturated fats and increase the ‘good’ poly and monounsaturated fats found in fish, nuts and seeds 
    • increase your water intake (around 2L per day)
    • make sure your eating 2 fruit and 5 veg everyday
    • increase your fibre intake with wholegrain breads and cereals
    • sleep around 8 hours each night (a good nights rest will give your body a chance to recharge and reset hormones)
    • exercise
    As Arlene mentioned above, the human body has its own mechanisms for getting rid of toxins. Many of the fad “detox” diets out there are unecessary and can have some pretty nasty side effects. Your best be is to visit a local Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) for more expert tips :-)

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    Joanna Sochan

    Naturopath, Nutritionist, Western Herbal Medicine Practitioner

    Joanna is a Natural Medicine Practitioner (Naturopath, Herbalist and Nutritionist) who offers an integrative and holistic approach to health and wellbeing. She applies a number … View Profile

    The best and safest ways to detox is to do it slowly over time using natural foods and specific supplements rather than to follow ‘quick fix’ over the counter products which do more harm than good. Our bodies are designed to naturally eliminate toxins; however, the body has a more difficult time coping with the volume of pollutants it is constantly exposed to, particulalry in major metropolitan areas. Periodical detox, such as in spring and autumn, will help the body to work better and feel more energised. My suggestion is to always consult a qualified practitioner to guide you through any detox process. Here are some common sense detox basics:

    Detox order is important - the main detoxing organs in the body are the gut, liver and gallbladder; the kidneys, the lungs and the skin )which actually is our largest detoxifying organ). Safe and effective detox needs to be done in a sequence mirroring how our bodies work:

    • Step 1: Gut cleanse - it is vital to do a gut cleanse before proceeding with the rest of the detox. When the kidney and liver release toxins, they do it through the bile duct and out into the colon. If the colon (aka the drain pipe) is clogged, the waste backs up into the blood stream and can make you feel quite ill.
    • Step 2: Liver and gallbladder cleanse
    • Step 3: Kidney and blood cleanse

    The aim of a comprehensive detox is to eliminate the toxins that have been in your body for a long period of time. Supervision is needed because the body organs can get overwhelmed by the released toxins and this could be dangerous and cause tissue damage.

    Support your body during detox - at each step the gut, liver, kidneys, lungs and skin need to be supported by appropriate herbs, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other body cleansing methods. This way the detox will keep the colon hydrated, expel mucous from the lungs and stones from the kidneys, liver and gallbladder. Using steam baths and saunas promotes perspiration and release of toxins through the skin. Dry skin brushing also helps to increase release of toxins through the skin. Make sure you consistently exercise and get enough sleep.

    Use natural foods and supplements to facilitate the release of toxins - many OTC detox supplements are purely laxatives, which increase bowel movements and the risk of dehydration, digestive problems and mineral imbalances. A much safer way is to consume natural, organic nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, good fats (especially omega 3, avocados and extra virgin olive oil) as well as probiotics.

    Increase fibre intake - extra fibre is especially helpful during detox as it acts as a ‘sponge’ for the removal of toxins, binds them and facilitates the removal of toxins through the colon.

    Drink enough water - staying well-hydrated will help you to cope with side effects of a detox diet such as hunger, headaches, low energy and mood. Water is also essential for every function involved in the detoxification process, including elimination of urine, sweat and bowel movements.

    Reduce exposure to toxins - limit exposure to toxins by eating clean food, drinking clean water, breathing cleaner air and using natural cosmetics. Use a good water filter for better quality drinking water and eat organic foods. Keep plants indoors, they very effectively purify the air!

  • Angela Jackson

    Exercise Scientist

    I have qualifications as an Exercise Scientist, Herbalist and Health Coach, with over 10 years experience in the preventative health industry helping people to improve … View Profile

    Great article Joanna, spot on!

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    At figureate, accredited practising dietitians Zoe Nicholson and Marlene Gojanovic will help you get off the dieting merry-go-round and show you how to change your … View Profile

    I agree with everything Chris Fonda has said. The body has its own detoxifying system - the liver - and all you need to do is eat a healthy well balanced diet with at least 2 fruit, 5+ veg, 3-5 serves wholegraines, ~2 serves dairy (or other calcium rich food), 1-2 serves lean meat/meat alternatives daily.
    You can have a healthy, well functioning body and still enjoy moderate amounts of alcohol, caffiene and of course the occasional treat!
    Adequate sleep, exercise/physical activity and avoiding excess stress is also improtant to overall health and well-being.
    Given it's only been 5 weeks, it may take a little longer to really start feeling good, especially if you've been smoking and drinking a little more than one should for a number of years.
    Keep up the good work!

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    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    I think that Arlene, Chris and Zoe have offered excellent advice.

    The whole notion of “detox” is something of an urban myth. There is no metabolic pathway called the “detox pathway” but, as Chris points out, this has not stopped people from promoting fad procedures. His recommendation of talking with an APD is a good one.

    Zoe is right in saying that one of the jobs of the liver is to dispose of toxins and her dietary suggestions are good as well. 

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