Detox your body without going on a fad diet
Simple habits such as sipping citrus water and green tea can make a difference
Detox, to put it simply, is cleansing your body. But it should not entail going on fad diets to drastically restrict calorie intake.
If your diet makes you feel cranky and miserable, it will be unsustainable in the long run, which means you will ultimately regain the weight you lost while dieting.
Ms Alessia Tan, certified nutritionist at Usana Health Sciences, said: "The air we breathe is polluted, the food we eat is processed, our lifestyle is sedentary, and our body cells lack oxygen, vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
"Also, our organs in charge of detoxification and excretion are overwhelmed, and our body is overloaded with waste products and toxic metabolites, which renders it vulnerable to all sorts of bacteria and viruses."
She added: "A healthy body can eliminate the toxic substances generated by its normal functioning. However, over the years where our liver is used as a dumping ground, it will reach its breaking point."
Detoxification, according to Ms Tan, is a decisive step towards restoration of the body's regulatory mechanisms and purging out the toxins we put in.
She said: "The short-term effects of detox include the healing reaction when the body is trying to get rid of all the bad bacteria, toxins and waste.
"Some common symptoms include muscle and bone pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, anxiety, eczema and restlessness. The symptoms may last days, weeks or months depending on your health status.
"The long-term effects of detox include increased energy, heightened immune system, more self-confidence, overall feeling of well-being, and lowered risk of health issues.
"When your body is free of waste, it can finally savour the goodness and nutrients you are feeding it."
You can either eliminate the excess weight and toxins by going on a detox diet that, however, will likely send you back to your old habits once it is over, or slowly and steadily incorporating simple detox habits into your regular routine.
The latter is, of course, the recommended option.
It is best to steer clear of quick fixes and focus on a diet that is sustainable in the long term and does not involve laxative teas or starving yourself.
Ms Tan said: "Do not go full on and eat like a supermodel when you have been a fast-food junkie.
"One week's worth of motivation is not going to turn 10 years of bad eating habits around. You will feel more discouraged upon not seeing results from a yo-yo diet.
"Change progressively and not drastically. Swop white rice with brown rice, soft drinks with fruit-infused water. A gradual change in diet is the long-term method to maintaining a healthy weight."
Here are more ways to detox without going on an extreme diet.
Reduce eating window
Many of us are guilty of unknowingly overloading our bodies with more glucose than it can process.
Night-time fasting, which reduces our eating window, can help to burn off the extra glucose in our system.
Instead of staying up late and snacking throughout the night, allow yourself access to food only after 12 hours of not eating so that your body can enter a fasting state. In other words, if you had your last bite of food at 9pm, have your next meal only at 9am the next day.
Sip on citrus water
A lot of the weight you feel could just be bloating. Many of the food we eat are loaded with sodium, which causes our body to bloat when it retains fluids.
Paradoxically, drinking lots of fluids helps our body shed the water that it is holding.
Add citrus fruits, which are rich in an antioxidant that stimulates enzymes in the liver, to flush out toxins and maintain healthy bowels.
Citrus fruits are also rich in vitamin C, which is a natural detox. So go ahead and throw some sliced lemon, orange or lime into your drink for a refreshing twist.
Wash all your produce
On top of eating a variety of fruit and vegetables, make sure you wash them thoroughly because most of them contain the very toxins you are trying to eliminate.
The pesticides used on crops have been associated with diarrhoea, nausea and abdominal pain. Plus, consuming pesticides might lead to weight gain because the toxins, which are stored in fat cells after consumption, can interfere with the body's energy-burning process.
Choose organic produce if you can afford it.
Lettuce, grape, apple, pear, peach, strawberry, cherry and nectarine tend to have the most pesticides on them.
Indulge in green tea
Boil yourself a cup of green tea because studies have shown that drinking four to five cups of green tea daily, paired with regular exercise, can help shed belly fat.
Green tea is also rich in catechin, an antioxidant that improves the liver's capacity to turn fat into energy and increases the body's production of detoxification enzymes that fight off cancer.
Break a sweat
We all know that regular physical activity can help us lose weight, fend off a host of diseases, improve our mood and boost our energy, but it brings even more benefits than we may realise.
Exercising - and hydrating amply afterwards - can help to eliminate toxins from our body and get things moving, in terms of digestion and blood circulation.
Consuming too much alcohol or salt can make us look bloated, so exercising and hydrating will definitely help to reduce the paunch as well.
While experts say there is no optimal time to work out, exercising in a fasted state (that is, before your first meal of the day) means our body draws energy from our fat stores instead of the glucose in our system - which means exercising before breaking a fast can burn more fat than exercising after.
Stock up on healthy snacks
Just because you are going on a detox does not mean you need to toss out everything in your kitchen so you do not get tempted when you are feeling peckish. Instead, swop those savoury and sugary treats for fruit and veggies.
Loading up on such thoroughly rinsed and pesticide-free goodies every day is one of the most effective detox methods.
In particular, go for avocado, which contains fatty acids that help the liver flush out toxins, and beets, which contain antioxidants that repair and regenerate cells in the liver.
Pay attention to gut health
Bloating is a common problem that can be solved by incorporating more gut-friendly food and probiotics into your diet.
The gut flora is made up of multiple types of healthy bacteria that maintain our gut health. Probiotics help to boost our immune system by fending off bad bacteria, so add some fermented food such as kimchi, sauerkraut and yogurt to your menu to cultivate a healthier gut biome.
This article was first published in Her World Online (www.HerWorld.com).