Almost everyday I get asked: “If I should do just one thing to be healthy, what should it be?”Each month, I send you one of my answers.
We love to detox – a juice cleanse, the maple syrup diet & cabbage soup diet (urgh); you name it, we will go to any lengths to ‘kick start’ a detox and clean out our systems. The problem is that the body hasn’t really been designed to detox in periodic short bursts; in fact it’s cleverly programmed to detox all the time in order to ensure that toxins don’t build up in the body in the first place.
Not only is this more sustainable and conducive with human physiology, it means you don’t have to partake in some God-awful fast every 6 months to purge your body of toxic build-up.
Get this right and you can expect to have more energy, better concentration, feel less lethargic, have better skin and say farewell to the persistent and painful two-day hangover.
If you only do one thing this week, try to incorporate one of these easy tricks into your daily life and give your liver what it needs to work in the way it’s supposed to.
1. Take An Epsom Salt Bath
The skin is surprisingly permeable and certain nutrients can be well absorbed through the skin. Epsom salts are essentially magnesium sulphate – two minerals required by the body for detoxification. Sulphur in particular is incredibly important for the detoxification and removal of our hormones. Given it is tricky to absorb through the gut, bathing in Epsom salts is a great way to get the nutrients in.
Do it before bed as magnesium has the added benefit of being calming and relaxing for the body and mind. Perfect if you work-out a lot. But for Pete’s sake don’t be tempted to drink it – it’s a potent laxative that I do not recommend! Note: Given that the skin is so permeable, I’m obliged to add that you must be very careful what you put on it. Wear gloves if you do the cleaning (or avoid cleaning altogether) and watch out for cosmetics that often contain a cocktail of environmental toxins that put an extra burden on the liver.
2. Eat Your Greens
The liver needs a complex of nutrients to allow it to flourish and deficiencies in these are a common cause of compromised detoxification. Anything green and leafy is a safe bet largely because these vegetables are normally rich in folate, vitamins C & B, magnesium, sulphur and antioxidants, all of which are essential to the liver.
Glucosinolates, punchy liver supporting compounds that are found in extremely high quantities in brassica greens like kale, broccoli, cabbage, and sprouts, are also an amazing resource for the liver so aim to include one portion daily. Remember not to overcook- steam, don’t boil!
3. Hydrate First Thing
Your liver does most of its work at night and so toxins are ready and waiting to be removed first thing. Drinking water helps to flush these out and also rehydrate your body, which is essential for the liver anyway.
Add fresh lemon and chopped ginger and if you can hack it, a pinch of cayenne pepper that supports the liver itself, as well as digestion and immunity.
4. Take Probiotics
The digestive system is one of the major routes out of the body for toxins, the congestion of which can be a major source of additional toxicity. The wrong types of gut bacteria can also actually cleave (detach) detoxified compounds from their transporters making them available for re-absorption into the body. This is is especially true of estrogen, so savvy chicks outs there should take heed.
Healthy gut flora is synonymous with good detoxification and can also help prevent digestive issues that further compromise liver function.
5. Add Greens Powder
Let’s face it – time doesn’t always allow for super healthy eating or lounging around in the bath so we do sometimes just need an easy, quick fix. Look no further than a good greens powder – it’s like having a massive plate of raw nutrient packed veggies and goodness in one simple scoop. They typically contain powders from vegetables like beetroot and spinach, as well as big liver-loving algae like chlorella and spirulina that are one of the only good sources of vegetarian B12 – a nutrient that activates the methylation pathway, which the liver simply cannot function without.
The really good greens powders also have herbs like milk thistle and echinacea which offer further support, as well as probiotics which, as I have already mentioned, work in synergy with the liver.
In my opinion, the ultimate greens powder is the one and only Pro Greens which contains all of the above as well as a few other gems. This powder offers all round nutritional support and is a great way to give your body a kick. Have it in juice first thing and you’ll be well on your way.
Extra Alice Tip: If on occasion you are forced to have a bit of a boozy evening and are worried about the repercussions the next day, I would recommend having a scoop (or capsules) before bed to soften the blow.
An earlier version of this post was first published on Alice Mackintosh Nutrition.