For the Health of It

Cleansing also doesn’t mean you have to drink only green shakes — just eat sensibly and drink lots of water.

It started snowing as I sat down to write this week's article.

And although I’d been enjoying our non-winter-like winter so far, there’s something about a fresh, clean, white blanket of snow covering the ground.

I love going out in the morning and being the first one to leave a set of footprints. Fresh, clean and new.

Whether we’re talking about snow or about health, fresh and clean is a perfect way to begin the new year.

So how does one kick off the new year fresh, clean and new with regards to health?

In a word, detox. In the same way we declutter and purge “stuff” from our garages, or spring clean the dust bunnies and cobwebs from the nooks and crannies around our homes, or change the oil and filter in our cars, we also need to clean out the “stuff” that’s collected in our bodies.

Our bodies are our one and only vehicle that drives us through life.

It’s also the place where we are required to spend all of our time. No trade-ins or lease returns, no upgrades to a new build and no get-away options.

And to keep our “cars” running smoothly and our “homes” comfortable to live in, maintenance and cleaning should be done at least a few times each year.

Detoxing is a great way to do that.

Because there are many different types of detoxes and cleanses out there, it's important to know why you’re doing it and what to look for.

The purpose of detoxing is to clean out our bodies’ filtering systems – like replacing the oil filter in your car when you have the oil changed.

Detoxing the colon, liver and kidneys will rid the body of bloat and waste, allow the kidneys and liver to function more easily and help you lose a few pounds.

The average person can be carrying anywhere between three and 10 pounds of bloat and waste in their systems – and that doesn't even include what was added over the Christmas holidays. Not surprising those pants are feeling a little snug, right?

I’m sure you're all in agreement, cleaning out the body’s filtering systems is important.

Where it’s not so clear however is how to achieve that.

For example, cleanses that advocate eating nothing at all and drinking a concoction of water, spices and something sweet together for days on end is not healthy or safe.

While eliminating food may seem like a good idea, it’s actually depriving your body and brain of nutrients and causes blood sugar and energy levels to plummet.

Which burns muscle, not fat. Every time we burn muscle it slows down our metabolism just a little bit.

So although you may lose weight on a cleanse like this, a slower metabolism and subsequent reduced muscle mass is the result.

Combine that with the body entering starvation mode due to lack of food, and your body will store all food as fat for a period of time when you go back to eating regularly.

So really, it only serves to put the weight back on and then start the cycle over again.

Whereas, if you were to simply remove the foods that cause our bodies to retain bloat and waste in the first place and eat only lean, clean foods, and flush with lots of water and some all natural supplements, you’ll still get the detox results.

You also won't end up being “hangry” from lack of food and your body won’t start storing up fat like a squirrel for winter the minute your finished. Makes sense, right?

Eliminate the nasties like sugar, salt, dairy, soy, alcohol, coffee, tea, along with foods that are more difficult to digest like grains, dense beans, corn, beef and egg yolk.

Then pick your favourite whole foods and put them together as PFC (protein, fat, carb)-balanced meals.

Increasing water intake throughout the day will help to flush out fat and toxins whether you're detoxing or not so it makes sense to amp that up during a detox. Aim for two to three litres ladies, and three to four litres gents, daily.

Supplements like milk thistle, juniper berry root, dandelion root extract, cranberry extract help the liver, kidneys and colon to flush out the waste and toxins that gradually accumulate, making us feel sluggish and bloated.

As I said in the beginning, there are many different types of detoxes and cleanses out there.

Check to make sure that what you’re about to do is safe, based on science and works with the way your body is designed to function.

Tania Gustafson is a nutritionist and fitness coach. On the web: Email: Tune in to her “For the Health of It” podcast every Saturday at 8 a.m. on

Check out her 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook. Watch weekly videos that will get you started on your detox and then guide you through an eight-week program.

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