Toxins make us fat: it’s time to detox!

Did you know that springtime is ideal for detoxifying your precious body? Whether we realise it or not, we are constantly exposed to toxins and our body becomes a reservoir for them.

Potentially harmful compounds enter our bodies in the form of pesticides, fertilisers, hormone-based food additives, drugs, air pollution, heavy metals found in water (and we drink water and eat fish) or even the skin care products we use every day.

Toxins are also naturally found in our body as the end products of the metabolic process and bacterial waste. The problem starts when accumulated toxins overload the liver and impair the elimination process, resulting in weight gain and several other health problems, such as auto-immune diseases and Alzheimer’s, for example.

Toxins affect many of the hormones that influence our body composition and the ability to lose weight, including thyroid hormone, testosterone, estrogen, insulin, cortisol and leptin. So if you want to lose weight, the best way is doing an anti-inflammatory detox as the first step.

What are the benefits of a detox?

Doing an anti-inflammatory diet has many health benefits to help you feel good on the inside and help you look the best on the outside. It helps all of your organs to function better and your entire level of health is improved.

A detox is great for the body because your metabolism, immune system, brain and digestive system will all function more efficiently. Not only does it help the inside of your body but it also gives you clearer skin and any inflammation you may have will be reduced.

The best way to detoxify your system is through improving the quality of your digestion and elimination.

An anti-inflammatory detox diet is a liquid diet, for a period of 2-3 consecutive days and requires some high quality vegetable protein such as hemp protein powder, gluten-free carbohydrates such as millet flakes to prevent muscle breakdown, vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetables and, most of all, a lot of antioxidants obtained from red berries, green tea, etc.

During a detox diet, it is advisable to drink at least 1,5l of alkaline water, rest as much as possible and enjoy a relaxing massage. If possible, combine some yoga classes with lymphatic drainage to help your lymphatic system flush out toxins.

Preparing for a detox

In order to prepare for a detox, I suggest reducing or eliminating your intake of the following foods a fortnight before you start, as this will make it easier for your body to adjust to the diet change:
▪ Coffee
▪ Alcohol
▪ Meat
▪ Refined carbohydrates (white breads, pasta, white rice)
▪ Sugar and artificial sweeteners
▪ Dairy
▪ Eggs
▪ Processed foods
▪ Hydrogenated oils
▪ Fried foods

Increasing your consumption of the following foods and beverages is also recommended:

▪ Seasonal fruits and fresh vegetables
▪ Gluten-free cereals (quinoa, millet, rice, etc.)
▪ Beans
▪ Olive oil
▪ Nuts and seeds
▪ Green tea, oolong tea
▪ Alkaline water (pH>7)
▪ Superfoods (chia seeds, pollen grains, goji berries, hemp protein powder, etc).

It is impossible to avoid toxicity completely, no matter how successful we are at purifying our home and work environments. Realising this and the importance of supporting our body’s efforts to eliminate accumulated toxins cannot be overstated.

Anti-inflammatory detox diet (2-3 days)

Smoothie. 220ml of fresh vegetable milk (preferably almond) + 1-2 pieces of fruit (eg: 50g of red fruits (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries + 1/2 apple) + 1 tablespoon of millet or quinoa flakes + 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and cinnamon.
After breakfast, you must have the remaining meals every two hours. You should alternate between two different types of detox juices and soups.

Mid morning
Vegetable and fruit juices. Always add a tablespoon of hemp protein powder – each meal, 250ml of juice
200ml of green tea + fresh water + 2 different pieces of fruit + green leafy vegetable + aromatic herb + seeds (if necessary, add water to make more liquid).

Recipes (choose two, each day)
▪ Detox juice: green tea + fresh water + 1 slice of melon, 1 slice of pineapple, fresh mint leaves, 1 handful watercress, ginger zest and a dessert spoon of chia seeds.

▪ Mineralising juice: ½ beet, ½ cucumber, 1 carrot juice, 1 cabbage leaf (Lombard or Galician), juice of 1 orange, some drops of lemon juice, 1 stalk celery, parsley and ground flaxseeds.

▪ Vitamin juice: 2 carrots, 1 apple or pear, 1 small cup of spinach, coriander to taste, ½ cucumber, ½ lemon juice, 100ml of coconut water and 1 tablespoon of flaxseed or chia;

▪ Detox juice: 1 avocado, ½ melon or apple, ginger, lemon juice, coconut water (200ml) and 2 mint leaves.

▪ Purifying juice: 1 handful watercress, 1/2 banana, 2 slices of pineapple, 2 mint leaves, 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds and 200ml of coconut water.

▪ Antioxidant and energising juice: 1 red apple, 1 stalk celery, 1 kiwi fruit, ½ avocado, 1 hand spinach, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, lemon juice to taste and 200ml of green tea flavoured with cinnamon stick.

▪ Super-antioxidant juice and digestive: 200g of red fruits (can be frozen), 1 apple, 1 tablespoon grated ginger , 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds and 200ml of rooibos tea;

The juices should be prepared in a blender. First add the tea/water and then the herbs or green leafy vegetables. Once the liquid has become green, add fruit and other ingredients. Serve 250ml of each type of juice. It is advisable to take two different types of fruit juices and alternate them during the day.
Start today with your anti-inflammatory detox and improve your health and wellbeing.

Soup (no potatoes) – 250 to 300ml each.

▪ Detox soup: 200g carrots, 200g onions, 100g of green leafy vegetables, 50g celery, ½ cauliflower, 1 turnip, 3 cloves of garlic, parsley or coriander, olive oil, salt and water. Blend to a purée.

▪ Courgette soup: 1kg of courgette, 1 leek, 1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic, bunch of coriander, basil leaves, olive oil, salt and water. After cooking, blend to a purée. You can also add a green leafy vegetable to this soup.

▪ Purifying soup: 1kg of cabbage, ½ celery, 2 onions, 2 ripe tomatoes or 1 small can of peeled tomatoes, ½ pepper, bunch of coriander, 2 cloves of garlic, olive oil, salt and water. After cooking, blend to a purée.

▪ Cream of asparagus soup: handful of white asparagus, 2 onions, 1 courgette, parsley, water, oil and salt. After cooking, blend to a purée.

▪ Broccoli and apple soup: 1kg of courgette, ¼ leek, 1 large onion, garlic cloves, 1 small turnip, 1 green apple, broccoli (same quantity as apple), bunch of coriander, olive oil, salt and water. After cooking, blend to a purée. Serve topped with a tablespoon of yoghurt.

During the afternoon, alternate two different detox juices every two hours with soups. So you should always double the quantity of each when preparing them.

Similar to lunch, but the soup can be different from lunchtime.

By Ana Rita Horta

This specific diet needs to be correctly managed, particularly if you suffer from other health conditions, such as diabetes or Crohn’s disease. Monitoring and supervision is critical in order to handle any detox reactions that may develop, so please contact a certified dietitian.