If there’s one word that seems ubiquitous every January, it’s “detox”. It’s a time when leaving the year behind and creating a “new you” comes to the forefront. It’s a time to recover from the excess of Christmas festivities and embark on a more healthful diet, and a detox may or may not be the way for you!
But before adjusting ones diet, one must understand that each of us is unique. The way in which we digest, assimilate, and absorb nutrients is also unique, therefore following a detox plan that is made to suit everyone, does not work for everyone.
Lucretius (99-55 BC), the Roman healer and philosopher some two thousand years ago said “What is food to one man is bitter poison to others.” Simply put, what may be healthy for your colleague may not really be healthy for you. Take time to listen to your “inner guru” as this is what will bring you a new level of self-awareness.
The most common reaction I find to detoxification is to think that there are no “normal” foods left to live on. Our Western diet has become abnormal. Most of the World’s population have lived happily and healthily for a the last few thousand years on a diet rich in vegetables, whole-grains, pulses, meat, fish, and eggs – a wholefood diet.
In Chinese Medicine, healing involves the return to a more natural diet. Blood has a much wider meaning than it does in western medicine. It refers to the physical, emotional and mental aspects of being. Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) is the universal life force and when in harmony, we enhance and preserve not just our health, but also our happiness and wellbeing. The blood nourishes, moistens and cools the body and works with Qi to maintain health and happiness. Therefore the blood is strong we are mentally stable and resilient, but when deficient in blood we suffer with anxiety and are emotionally fragile.
Chinese medicine describes a complex system of Meridians or Channel’s which are imaginary lines linking various points on the body’s surface. This Meridian system distributes Qi. Each meridian is associated with an organ of the body. Qi circulates continuously through these Channels. But occasionally we can get “Qi stagnation” where the body is in disharmony due to our lifestyle habits, stress, dietary choices and environmental toxins.
There are many ways to detox, but for most, there is no need to do a juice fast or water fast. One must be in good health before doing either of these.
While moving towards a more wholesome diet, adding flavour to your meals helps nourish the blood. Spices such as cayenne pepper, ginger, cinnamon all work to restore harmony and balance.
Some herbs that gently cleanse the liver and kidneys, aswell as aid detoxification are Dandelion (Taxacum officinalis), Nettle (Urtica dioica), Red clover (Trifolium pretense), Yellow dock (Rumex crispus).
Including Herbal Teas instead of caffeinated drinks such as Green tea (no more than two weak cups per day as it contains caffeine), Rooibos, Red berry, Lemon and Ginger or plain water should be sipped on throughout the day.
On a detoxification programme, you need to monitor the foods you put in your body and follow some simple rules about the way you eat.
- Eat slowly, chewing each mouthful thoroughly.
- Do not eat while upset, stressed or busy.
- Sit at the table for mealtimes.
- Do not drink cold fluids with food.
- Do not drink or eat any chilled foods, or those taken straight from the fridge. This depends on the current strength of the person’s digestion.
- Eat until you are only two-thirds full.
- While detoxing, limited foods such as milk, wheat, coffee, sugar, animal fats and polyunsaturated oils.
A detox regime doesn’t have to be agonising. It can be fun, easy and a very rewarding way to start the new year!