Christmas can leave you feeling a little like Santa Claus – your months of healthy eating and workouts can seem a lifetime ago when you put on your New Year’s dress. “It’s easier than we think to overindulge on processed, sugary foods, alcohol and experience a complete lack of sleep at the same time, which can all take a huge toll on our body by the time January arrives,” explains Stephanie Berglin, Nutritionist, Herbalist and FX Medicine Educator. “It’s no wonder that many of us feel sluggish, bloated and desperate for a ‘health kick’ or detox to kick our new year into gear.”
Stephanie says detoxing (the right way) isn’t about depriving your body of food and nutrients. “The liver is the second-largest organ in the body, responsible for filtering toxins from our blood so they can be eliminated from the body,” she explains. “This means supporting the liver, to enable it to actively detoxify the body.” As a nutritionist and herbalist, Stephanie has an in-depth knowledge of how supplements can help. But remember, you should always speak to your healthcare professional when considering supplementation.
Here, Stephanie suggests some key strategies you can follow to help detoxify the body whilst still enjoying yourself over the New Year party season…
Antioxidants: Increasing your daily intake of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables, especially deeply pigmented produce and cruciferous vegetables like spinach, parsley, blueberries, bok choy, broccoli and Brussel sprouts will help buffer some of the onslaught on the liver.
Probiotics: Gut bacteria can be disrupted from the many toxins of choice like processed foods, alcohol and even a lack of sleep. Both alcohol and sugar tend to play around with your gut flora and interfere with the balance of the bacteria in your gut. Eating probiotic-rich foods such as yoghurt, kombucha, kimchi, miso soup and taking a probiotic supplement can help boost good intestinal bacteria. Taking a high strength probiotic can help to provide optimal support for normal healthy digestive and immune function.
B vitamins: Alcohol depletes many different nutrients especially the B vitamins. A good quality multivitamin every day is a great place to start, and on days that alcohol is consumed – take a second one at lunchtime.
Milk thistle: The herb milk thistle can assist in buffering alcohol-induced liver damage. Milk thistle aids normal liver function and helps protect liver cells. It has antioxidant activity and also supports regeneration of liver cells. Try supplementing both before and after spoiling yourself with an extra glass of vino to assist your liver in processing and removing the alcohol from your body, as well as protecting the liver from the onslaught.
Dandelion root tea: Dandelion root tea has been used for centuries. Many herbalists, nutritionists and naturopaths recommend dandelion root to promote liver detoxification, relieve constipation and assist skin concerns.
Globe artichoke: Globe artichoke is traditionally used in western herbal medicine as a choleretic, supporting the gall bladder to increase bile flow, protecting the liver and helping digestive processes.