A.Vogel Blog

14 Day Detox

Ali says:

Most of us flag a little as we reach the end of the year, especially when the demands of attending or hosting parties and get-togethers are added to our regular workload. A few extra coffees and cupcakes should help your energy hold out, you hope…

Detox may help with:

  • Weight loss
  • Physical energy levels
  • Mental energy – memory and concentration
  • Poor sleep (digestive discomfort, sweating, 3am waking)
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Blood pressure imbalances
  • Skin (lymph, itching)
  • Mood (caffeine, sugar)
  • Bloating (abdominal pain/indigestion)
  • Joint pain
  • Heavy and/or painful periods

Take out the Toxins - Why Detox is Good for You

Our bodies need rubbish removed from them the same way our houses do. Think how awful it is if your drains are blocked, and feel sorry for a body left weltering in its own muck instead of having the garbage swiftly and painlessly extracted.

When extra amounts of toxins have been put in (oh ok, just one more mince pie), it’s even more important to get the exit routes cleared for business.

How do the toxins get in?

  • Through our mouths – food and drink
  • Through our lungs – airborne pollutants such as exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke, chemical cleaning agents, perfumes and sprays
  • Through our skin – cosmetics, hair dye, chemical cleaning agents

How should toxins get out?

  • Through the bowel
  • Through the urinary tract
  • Through the lungs

How about if these exit routes are overloaded or under-functioning?

The body has emergency exit routes that can be used if the proper ones aren’t functioning well. Toxins can be diverted through the skin and the mucous membranes.

So if you are shovelling in more toxins than you are letting out, or if your exit routes aren’t functioning well, you may experience the following:

  • Skin breakouts
  • Persistent catarrh or congestion
  • Grumbling guts
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Fluid retention
  • Lethargy

You may also be more prone to urinary tract infections and abdominal cramping. Lovely stuff…

So let’s look at how to open up those exit routes and clear out all the bin-loads of old rubbish you may have been storing up around your body!

Go with the Flow – Helpful Hydration

Firstly, we need to get the main exit routes - the urinary tract and bowel - working well. Toxins will then leave the body efficiently.

Go with the flow. Water in and water out will give you perfect fluid balance, along with peachy skin and better energy.

Ever feel lower backache, which doesn’t seem to be associated with a back injury? Especially after a morning’s lie-in? That could be your kidneys complaining of dehydration. Puffy eyes, strong smelling wee, and lack of energy are all part of this picture, as are dark circles under the eyes

Your aim throughout this detox is to drink a minimum of 1.5 litres of still, plain water daily. That’s not sparkling water, fizzy water, flavoured water, or the water in coffee, tea, juice or even herb teas.

Just plain water. It can be out of the tap or out of a bottle: it doesn’t matter.

Just drink it. In addition, herb teas and unsweetened fruit juices are fine.

Keep caffeinated drinks to a maximum of 2 cups daily, unless you are a bit of a caffeine junkie, in which case cutting down slowly is a better option – one cup fewer every 3 or 4 days, and/or weaker versions of each cup you take.

Supplements to help with fluid retention

  • Golden Rod tea or Nettle tea both work well
  • Dandelion tincture is a stronger option

What to do

  • Drink 500ml of warm water first thing on rising, at least 20 minutes before your breakfast.
  • Drink another 1 - 1.5 litres of water (preferably warm or room temperature) during the day, keeping it at least 20 minutes away from meals to avoid diluting your digestive enzymes.
  • Keep caffeinated drinks to a maximum of 2 daily (unless you are a dedicated caffeine junkie, in which case you may need to reduce your intake slowly), and avoid all fizzy drinks.
  • Drink green or white tea, and herbal teas such as Golden Rod, nettle and fennel to replace your usual caffeinated drinks.

The Bottom Line – Getting that Gut Working

If you are putting two or three meals in every day, at least one (preferably more) bowel movement should emerge on a daily basis. This will definitely improve your silhouette, and probably clear up spotty skin.

Bloating, grumbling guts, pain around your tummy, and even a grumpy mood can all derive from a sluggish bowel, as can extra pounds in weight and messy skin.

Some people find that drinking more water and less tea, coffee and fizzy drinks gives their bowel a new lease of life. If this doesn’t happen then it’s time to get stern with your rear. Drink that water, keep the caffeine intake low, and max out on veggies (see below for dietary tips).

Supplements to help

If your bowel is not moving at least once per day, take a bulking and softening agent such as finely ground psyllium husks until it does so.

What to do
  • Keep an eye on how often your bowel is moving. If it’s not at least once (preferably twice) daily then take action.
  • Increase your water intake
  • Go for a brisk 10-20 minute walk each day to stimulate muscle movement
  • Take one of the supplements suggested above
  • Avoid all white bread, white pasta, white rice and white flour.

Dietary Deliciousness – What to Eat

Let’s not pretend that you won’t have to make some adjustments to your usual dietary regime. Few of us have nothing on our dietary conscience and indeed, many of us wish on a daily basis that we could truthfully notch up 5 portions of fruit and veg instead of 5 portions of mostly beige food with the more-than-occasional portion of chocolate on the side…

Digestive discomfort such as heartburn, acid reflux, feeling overly full, being windy or bloated, having abdominal gurglings and gluggings, and a sluggish bowel can all be improved by eating a healthier diet. Eating better will also make you less hungry and less likely to crave unhealthy foods, and you are very likely to lose a little weight if you need to.

Here are the rules for your detoxing time:

Reduce the amount of red meat you eat

Instead! Think about having more fish dishes instead of meat-based ones, or use protein-rich grains such as quinoa, or beans such as adzuki beans. Humus is made with chickpeas and tahini, both of which are high in protein, and it’s easy to use with main meals or alongside a salad or in a sandwich. Nuts and seeds are also good sources of protein, so you won’t miss out by reducing your meat intake. See some suggestions below.

Reduce the amount of white flour you eat

Instead! Only eat wholegrain bread, pasta and pastry, or switch altogether and go for versions made with spelt, which isn’t as heavy on the digestive system, or wheat-free options such as rice pasta. Vary your bread intake with rice cakes and oatcakes, especially if you tend to have bread several times each day.

Reduce the amount of refined sugar you eat

Instead! Use fresh and dried fruit for tasty snacks, and check out agave syrup and brown rice syrup for sweetening meals.

Reduce the amount of fatty, fried foods you eat

Instead! Oven bake foods instead of frying them. Plan ahead so that you don’t fall back on fried take-away food because you’re in a hurry and don’t have anything prepared… Have plain, unsalted nuts and seeds as snacks rather than crisps.

Tip: Try to avoid all ‘white’ versions of foods, as they have been heavily processed and thus denuded of some of the most nutritious parts. So have brown rice instead of white, wholemeal couscous instead of white, and wholegrain cereals instead of the white versions. Shunning the processed, ‘white’ versions of these foods will improve your bowel function and digestive comfort, as well as giving you extra nutrients.

Increase your intake of vegetables in all shapes and forms. Here are some of the scrumptious vegetables that you can incorporate into your daily diet:

Carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, beetroot, cabbage, sprouts, broccoli, radishes, cauliflower, kale, celery, lettuce of various types, onions, leeks, garlic, chicory, fennel, watercress, runner beans, broad beans, squash, peas, courgettes, sweetcorn and mangetout

Go a little lighter on ordinary potatoes, as they don’t have as many nutrients to offer as sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes bake faster than ordinary potatoes and taste amazing too!

Increase your intake of warm, cooked foods rather than trying to exist on raw salads. Warm, cooked foods will be easier on your digestive system and will nourish you more at this chilly time of year.

Most importantly! Chew your food really well – this makes a huge difference to how effectively your digestive system works and therefore how many nutrients you absorb. Try chewing each mouthful at least 20 times. If this feels like immensely hard work then you probably routinely inhale your food rather than eating it, and you will benefit greatly from slowing down and actually masticating…

Supplements to help

Digestisan – use this if you currently experience digestive malaise, such as indigestion, wind, and feeling overly full.

What to do

  • Go wholegrain – don’t eat highly processed, ‘white’ foods
  • Go fruity – use dried and fresh fruit instead of sugary treats
  • Go fishy – have more fish / beans / pulses / nuts / seeds instead of meat
  • Go warm - cooked, warm food is lighter on the digestive system
  • Go gobby! Use that mouth and really chew your food. You’ll be amazed how un-hungry you feel.

Down or Out: red meat, burgers, fried food, wheat, refined sugar, dairy products, alcohol, coffee, tea, biscuits, cakes, chocolate and sweets (yes, everything you’ve been eating most of December…), and things with an ingredients list full of ‘E’ numbers

On the Up: fresh fruit and vegetables, chickpeas, adzuki beans, butter beans, kidney beans, green or red lentils, spelt or wheat-free pasta, rice cakes, oatcakes, humus, dairy-free milk, dairy-free yoghurt and cheese, coffee substitutes such as Bambu, herb teas, dried fruit, nuts and seeds.

What’s Your Weakness?

Caffeine: highly addictive and highly available, and causing many an unpleasant withdrawal symptom such as headaches, irritability, and even aching joints if you’re a heavy ‘user’. If you have more than a couple of cups of coffee or tea per day then reduce them by one every few days and ensure that you’re imbibing plenty of plain water and helpful herbal teas to minimise the pain. Try coffee substitutes from health stores and green or white tea instead of black – these help shift weight too, so go get them!

Sugar: the cause of immense cravings, it’s important to identify what you’re going to replace it with rather than just try to steer clear through pure steely willpower. Investigate all the yummy dried fruits available in health stores and fill your nibble jars with Nak’d bars, which are naturally sugar-free. Avoid artificial sweeteners, as they don’t give you the nutrients that sweet fresh or dried fruit does. Take a course of chromium to help balance your blood sugar levels and reduce cravings, and try Helix Slim if you long for sugary treats after meals.

Chocolate: go dark for a start, as it’s quite difficult to eat a huge amount of good quality dark chocolate - it’s very filling. Try Om bars, as they are sweetened with coconut sugar and are extremely satisfying, and therefore hard to pig out on. Check your energy levels and if you’re reaching for the chocolate when you’re drooping then take a course of Floradix Iron Tonic to pep you up without recourse to the candy.

Heroic Herbal Teas
Golden Rod, Nettle and Fennel tea are all excellent for the urinary tract and for cleansing the bloodstream, so lay in a stock. Sweeten them with a touch of honey if you find them strange after ordinary tea. Fennel tastes of aniseed, for those of you who like it.

Green and white tea comes in a myriad versions nowadays, so check out the varieties available near you. They both support good metabolism without jangling up your nervous system, and you don’t need to bother about milk in them: what’s not to love.

Exercise is Good for You – Move On

Don’t panic, you don’t need to be running marathons. Get 10-20 minutes movement into your life every day and be surprised at the difference it makes. Doing short amounts of exercise regularly is more effective than killing yourself at the gym once a fortnight.

What to do

Check out all the ideas we have for painlessly incorporating exercise into your life.

Optional Extras – Up for More?

Your lungs help with waste removal by pushing out carbon dioxide with every out-breath. You can make the most of this natural detoxing process with the following simple steps:

  • Get out into the fresh air every day, if only for a short time. If the weather is very bad or you are very fixed indoors, open the window and stick your head out for a few minutes (unless you live on a main road, in which case you may be better off in a local park or a friend’s garden).
  • Practice ‘windmill breathing’ – breathe in for a count of three, raising your arms straight out in front of you until they are above your head. Then breathe out for a count of three, lowering your arms down by your side. Repeat three times. Do this several times during the day, especially if you spend a lot of time at a desk or hunched over a computer.
  • Consider how fast you breathe. Counting to three as you breathe in and another three as you breathe out will help to slow you down and make the breath more complete and oxygenating. Oxygen is good for you, and it’s free!
  • Exercising outdoors has been shown to be good for your mood and it also allows your lungs more access to fresh air. A 10-20 minute walk outside is a cheap and easy way of exercising and improving your lung-based detox action at the same time.
  • What about the air purity in your home: do you have heaps of air-fresheners pumping out chemicals on a regular basis? Your lungs may be grateful for a break from them.

Your skin is one way toxins can get in and out of your body, and you can reduce the traffic in and increase the movement out.

  • Review what you put on your skin: could you use more natural versions of your skin creams and bath lotions?
  • Detox your make-up bag: how long have your lipsticks and mascara brushes been lurking there? They go off! Chuck out anything that’s been hanging around for a while.
  • Spray scent onto your clothes rather than your skin, so that it doesn’t absorb into your body.
  • Go for a really natural deodorant rather than an antiperspirant that blocks your sweat glands completely. Try Salt of the Earth, which kills smell-stewing bacteria rather than gumming up your armpits.
  • Try gentle skin-brushing, always working towards the heart from the feet and the arms.
  • Viola tricolor is very supportive for detoxing and nourishing the skin.
  • If your skin is extremely sensitive and prone to break-outs, try Echinacea Cream as a moisturiser.
  • Get heaps of vitamin C into your diet (fresh fruit and veg are excellent sources), as this is superb for your skin.

Your kidneys do an awful lot for you. Help them out with more water, less salt and refined sugar, and less stress… Yep, they like you to have a rest every now and again. So get on that sofa and say your kidneys told you to!

Golden Rod tea is very supportive of the urinary system, and Solidago Complex is a gentle kidney tonic.

Your liver is constantly battling toxins on your behalf, and will respond well to more bowel movement, less caffeine, alcohol and fried foods, and liver-supportive herbs such as Dandelion, Artichoke (Cynara) and Milk Thistle. Try Milk Thistle Complex, which contains all of these herbs.

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