January is a great time to refresh and renew for the New Year and to recover from the excess of the festive season. If you would like to help your body recover from the extra burden, or feel that a gentle switch to a cleaner diet is for you, then read on.

Toxins are by definition a type of poison that can harm our body both internally as well as externally. We are surrounded by toxins in our daily lives from air pollution and alcohol to micro plastics that make their way into our food or into our bodies from the air we breathe. It’s our liver’s job to process these toxins, as well as by-products from internal processes such as cholesterol, old hormones and used red blood cells. However if there is excess build-up of toxins the liver can become overwhelmed and struggle to function.

The science bit

The liver has a tough job to do. The detoxification process is done in two parts or phases.

Phase one involves a number of enzymes that help break down harmful fat-soluble toxins as well as other products that get stored in your fat cells before being sent to phase two.

This first phase requires the help of key nutrients, herbs and powerful antioxidants. This includes vitamin E, C, B3, B6, B12 and folate, as well as glutathione.

Phase two mobilizes and transforms the by-products of phase one into new, water-soluble less harmful waste products in a process called conjugation. This waste can then safely be removed from your body via urine, stool, sweat and breath.

This phase also requires help from key nutrients such as the powerful antioxidant glutathione, sulphur based compounds and amino acids, as well as minerals, including zinc and selenium.

Do I need a total detox?

An extreme detox is not usually necessary, gently switching to a clean diet whilst ensuring adequate intake of the required nutrients is better than opting for a more extreme "fasting" detox which taxes the body. Increasing fibre with whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables can all help. Increase water intake, Include glutathione rich foods such as fish, meat and fresh fruit and vegetables for stage one. While high sulphur foods such as brassicas, broccoli, spinach and sprouts, garlic, chives, leek, shallots, and onion help support phase two.

Avoiding the toxins

While you can limit some exposure to toxins, it’s impossible to avoid exposure altogether. Try to eat more organic and less processed foods and wash fruit and vegetables (you can soak them in apple cider vinegar), avoid plastic food packaging where possible, and cut out alcohol and tobacco. Filter your tap water if you can, and try to limit exposure to air pollutants such as traffic fumes, air fresheners and even log fires and scented candles. Check you are using clean cosmetics and switch to more natural cleaning products.

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