After an indulgent festive season, many of us are thinking about losing weight and getting healthier. Pick up any magazine in January and you will inevitably find features on detoxing and dieting. But what is detoxing, how do you do it, and does it work?
- 0.1 Detoxing
- 0.2 How does a detox work?
- 0.3 Signs that you might need to detox
- 0.4 How do you do a detox?
- 0.5 Which detox should I try?
- 0.6 Fruit and vegetable detox
- 0.7 Smoothie cleanse
- 0.8 Lemons and limes
- 0.9 Fennel
- 0.10 Watermelon
- 0.11 Ginger
- 0.12 Dandelion
- 0.13 Green tea
- 0.14 Wheatgrass
- 0.15 Yogurt
- 0.16 Pineapple
- 0.17 Juice cleanse
- 0.18 Sugar detox
- 0.19 Is it safe to detox?
- 0.20 Lemon water
- 1 The Benefits of Lemon Water
- 1.1 Improves digestion
- 1.2 Helps the body to detox
- 1.3 It’s a great source of vitamin C
- 1.4 It’s great for skin
- 1.5 It helps you lose weight
- 1.6 It can boost energy and mood
- 1.7 It boosts immunity
- 1.8 It’s rich in potassium
- 1.9 It can freshen your breath
- 1.10 It fights inflammation
- 1.11 It helps you to cut down on caffeine
- 1.12 It helps you to fight off viruses
- 1.13 Preparing lemon water
- 1.14 Other uses for lemons
- 1.15 Enjoy, but protect your teeth!
- 1.16 Lemon water recipes
- 1.17 Lemon Protein Bars
- 1.18 Lemon-Roasted Cauliflower Recipe
- 1.19 Lemon Raspberry Sorbet
- 1.20 Final thoughts
Detoxes are nothing new. They have been practised for many years around the world. They are popular in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. The theory behind detoxing is that by eliminating toxins from the body and providing it with nutrients, you can nourish it from the inside out and achieve optimum health.
How does a detox work?
A detox is basically cleansing the body. You can achieve this by:
- Giving your organs a ‘rest’ by fasting
- Stimulating the liver to speed up the removal of toxins
- Improving blood circulation
- Replenishing the body with nutrients
Signs that you might need to detox
There are some signs that the body might be overloaded with toxins and you might need to detox. These include:
- Constant fatigue that you can’t explain
- Sluggish digestion
- Skin irritations
- Repeated viral infections
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Menstrual problems
How do you do a detox?
The first step to detoxing is to eliminate ‘obvious’ toxins from the body, such as alcohol, coffee, simple sugars, and saturated fats. Then look at your immediate environment and eliminate the chemicals you use in your home, and the chemicals in the products that you use on your body. Try to use natural alternatives.
Look at your mental health too, and try to learn to manage stress which impacts upon physical health. Try gentle mind-body exercise like yoga or Tai Chi.
Which detox should I try?
Here are some popular detox diets to try and the theory behind them:
Fruit and vegetable detox
This detox involves eating nothing but fruit and vegetables for between 3 days and 1 week. This is not intended to be a ‘crash’ diet or quick fix, this is intended to cleanse the body and flood it with nutrients and eliminate toxins. Consuming the raw vegetables will also help to get you into the habit of eating mindfully and chewing your food thoroughly. The detox usually involves eating only soft fruit and berries before noon, then combining fruit and vegetables throughout the rest of the day. If you gently steam or sauté the vegetables in olive oil, they should not lose too many of their nutrients. Combining fruit and vegetables in a salad with a lemon juice dressing is another good way to follow the diet, as it provides variety, a number of nutrients in one meal, and adding the lemon adds to the detoxing benefits.
A good approach to getting rid of toxins is by using small, manageable strategies rather than doing something drastic. Small steps like taking gentle exercise each day, using a sauna, drinking plenty of water, dry skin brushing, and eating organic foods will all help to get rid the body of toxins. Adding smoothies to your diet will also help to boost nutrient levels and detoxify your system. Detoxing and cleansing smoothies will most likely include the following ingredients which are known for their cleansing properties:
Lemons and limes
They are full of vitamin c which is a potent antioxidant, and they restore the acid and alkaline balance in the body which helps to get rid of toxins.
Fennel is a natural diuretic, so it eliminates fluids from the body. It boosts levels of an antioxidant called glutathione, which combats free radicals.
Its high water content cleanses the liver and kidneys and keeps the whole body hydrated which further helps to flush out toxins.
Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory . It stimulates the digestion so it promotes the elimination of waste from the system.
Dandelion is a mild diuretic and laxative, so it promotes the elimination of waste from the body.
Green tea contains plenty of antioxidants and it is also a diuretic which helps to flush toxins out of the body.
Wheatgrass is an acquired taste, but it’s a potent detoxifier. A shot of wheatgrass in a smoothie is all you need to give your body a boost.
Yoghurt enhances the flavour of a smoothie and gives it a creamy texture. It’s also rich in probiotics, which keep the digestive system healthy and boost immunity.
Pineapple adds sweetness to smoothies. An enzyme called bromelain helps to improve digestion and promotes colon cleansing.
When you are on a smoothie cleanse, add these foods to your supplemental meals to get further benefits:
Garlic, onion, basil, fennel, and broccoli.
Juicing boosts the levels of nutrients and antioxidants in the body. When doing this type of cleanse, most advocates recommend doing a 100% juice cleanse, because eating solids is said to slow down the detox process. If you need to eat, eat organic fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Only take light exercise such as yoga, stretching, and walking, as your energy levels may be not that high initially. After your cleanse, gradually start eating solid foods such as organic fruits and green vegetables, add brown rice, eggs, and yoghurt, then finally, add chicken, meat or fish.
Most people consume too much sugar, and diseases related to excess consumption are among the biggest causes of premature death. Quitting sugar is easier said than done though, as the addiction is physical and psychological. In the short term, cutting out sugar can reduce fatigue and cravings, and in the long term it will be easier to manage your weight and your risk of diseases will be reduced.
It doesn’t mean that you need to cut all the sugar out in one go, you can start by eliminating a few things in one go. The first thing you should tackle is to remove added sugars from your diet. So think the sugars in desserts, sodas, and processed foods. If you do have a craving for something sweet, try snacking on foods that are naturally sweet, like fruit.
Sugar detox tips:
- For breakfast, try adding fruit to cereal.
- For lunch, combine vegetables and protein to stave off any afternoon energy dips.
- If you need to snack, choose something that is high in protein so it fills you up and banishes any cravings for the sweet stuff.
- For dinner, whole grain carbs are a good choice, think pasta, couscous or sweet potatoes.
Forgo the fatty and sugary desserts and have some fruit which will give you plenty of fibre and antioxidants. If you have a real craving for sugar, have a small square of dark chocolate which is lower in sugar and contains antioxidants.
Is it safe to detox?
Detox diets are meant to be done in the short term, and they aren’t usually a way of life that you can adhere to for the long term. A detox diet can have side effects such as lack of energy, nausea, feeling dizzy and headaches.
A less severe way of detoxing the body is by simply cutting out processed foods. Base your diet around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein.
Some detox diets recommend herbs, pills, and powders, which may not be tested or approved, so if in doubt, always check with a doctor before using any form of supplementation.
Medical professionals tend to agree that the body does a good enough job of detoxifying itself, and that the only way to achieve good health is by eating a balanced diet, full of nutrient-rich whole foods.
Detox diets may be harmful for people who have conditions like heart disease or diabetes.
It has long been touted as the route to clear skin, good digestion, and weight loss, but is lemon water really the health wonder that it’s made out to be. Since Ancient Rome it has been used to benefit health, and it continues to feature in most detoxes and weight loss regimes.
Lemons are full of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and copper. They also contain some B vitamins and fibre. And they really provide you with some excellent health benefits; not bad for a fruit that was once just used as a decorative plant.
The Benefits of Lemon Water
Lemon juice is similar in structure to the digestive juices in the stomach. It makes the body produce bile, which keeps the digestive system running smoothly. Lemon water can relieve indigestion and an upset stomach.
Helps the body to detox
Lemon water encourages the body to absorb nutrients from the food better. It stimulates the liver, so toxins are eliminated more efficiently. Its mild diuretic effect also speeds up the elimination of waste.
It’s a great source of vitamin C
Vitamin C boosts immunity and protects the body’s cells from oxidative damage. It can also prevent colds and flu, or at the least, reduce their severity and duration.
It’s great for skin
The vitamin C content in the lemon water fight free radicals which contribute to skin ageing. It also helps boost collagen production, which helps keep the skin plump and wrinkle-free. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that vitamin C consumption led to younger looking skin.
It helps you lose weight
Lemons contain pectin, which is a type of fibre. Fibre keeps you feeling fuller for longer so you’re less likely to be inclined to snack. Lemon water also keeps you hydrated, which will stop you from mistaking thirst for hunger.
It can boost energy and mood
Our bodies get their energy from the molecules and atoms in foods. Negative-charged ions, like those in lemons enter the body and naturally boost energy. Studies have found that even the scent of lemons can boost mood, reduce stress, and increase alertness.
It boosts immunity
Vitamin C keeps our immune system healthy, and vitamin C is easily depleted when we are stressed or when our lifestyle is not as healthy as it could be. Lemon water boosts levels to keep everything running as it should be.
It’s rich in potassium
Potassium is needed for a healthy heart, as well as for normal brain and nerve function.
It can freshen your breath
The lemon water can get rid of less than fresh breath, plus it’s said to relieve toothache. Caution is needed though, as the citric acid in lemon can wear down your protective tooth enamel. Don’t brush your teeth after drinking lemon water.
It fights inflammation
Inflammation in the body is the cause of most diseases and illness. Lemon water combats inflammation, so it may be helpful for people who suffer from joint inflammation and inflammatory bowel disease.
It helps you to cut down on caffeine
Try replacing your morning coffee with a cup of warm lemon water and you should find that the mid-afternoon crash disappears and you will feel less jittery.
It helps you to fight off viruses
The boost to immunity due to the vitamin C and the soothing effect of the warm lemon water helps to ward off sore throats and viral infections.
Preparing lemon water
Opt for organic fruits where possible. Don’t choose fruits that are dull, wrinkled or excessively tough. Storing them in a sealed plastic bag keeps them fresher for longer.
Prepare lemon water by adding half a lemon to room temperature or warm water. Drinking it in the morning before breakfast will ensure that your body absorbs the nutrients better.
Other uses for lemons
- Lemon is a great deodoriser. Add a cup of lemon juice to your dishwasher and set it on rinse to get rid of lingering odours in your kitchen. You can also add some lemon peel and cinnamon sticks to a pot of water and simmer it on the stove.
- Lemon essential oil can be used to whiten teeth. Mix it with baking soda and coconut oil and rub it on the teeth. Leave it on for 2 minutes then rinse.
- You can make a face wash with lemon oil, baking soda and honey.
- A cloth soaked in lemon oil makes a great polish for cutlery.
Enjoy, but protect your teeth!
The citric acid in the lemon can erode your tooth enamel, so minimise the risk of this by drinking through a straw and rinsing your mouth with baking soda which is alkaline, so it will neutralise acid that may still be on the teeth’s surface.
Lemon water recipes
Lemon water is a health-giving, totally inexpensive and easy to make drink, but here are some recipes that will allow you to harness the power of lemons in other ways.
Lemon Protein Bars
- 1 cup oat flour
- 1/2 cup vanilla whey protein powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 6 ounces lemon juice
- 4 egg whites
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon stevia
- 8 ounces applesauce
How to make it
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease an 8×8 pan with coconut oil.
- Mix the oat flour, whey, salt and baking soda together.
- In a separate bowl, combine the lemon juice, egg whites, stevia and applesauce.
- Combine the ingredients from both bowls into one bowl.
- Spread into a greased pan and bake for 25 minutes.
Lemon-Roasted Cauliflower Recipe
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 large head cauliflower, broken into bite-sized pieces
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Parsley as garnish (optional)
How to make it
- Grease a baking sheet with oil.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower, garlic and sea salt.
- Spread the mixture on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 30–40 minutes at 425 Fahrenheit.
- Sprinkle the lemon juice over top and garnish.
Lemon Raspberry Sorbet
- 1 cup frozen raspberries
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
How to make it
- Blend all the ingredients together until creamy.
- Freeze until desired consistency is achieved.
Detoxes are big news, especially after many people have indulged over the festive season and resolve to lose weight and become healthier. All detoxes are not equal however, and beware of very restrictive, unsafe regimes, which recommend pills and potions which are not backed up by science.
These restrictive regimes do not encourage healthy eating. A true detox diet is simply a short term cleanse or kick-start to a healthy living regimen. They should not be used in the long term.
There are various ways that you can boost nutrient levels in the body and help it to eliminate toxins. You can try a fruit and vegetable cleanse, a juice or smoothie detox, and one that involves boosting health by eliminating sugar. At a basic level, these types of detoxes put you on the road to good health.
Lemon water is included in many detox programmes and plans, and for good reason. It is packed with nutrients which boost immunity, aid digestion, detox the body and help you to lose weight.
It’s simple to prepare, inexpensive, and has been tried and tested since Roman times. Why not add it to your daily diet and put yourself firmly on the road to good health?