The Low Down on the D-Word

I caught up with my superhero-zen-goddess-herbalist, Nina Taylor, just before Christmas to get the lowdown on detoxing. It's a bit of a buzz word/fad these days when super healthy eating seems to be all the rage (and please don't get me wrong - I am all for healthy eating for but let's not get too crazy when the quinoa in our mung-bean, green tea-infused, brekkie pancakes hasn't been soaked in holy water blessed by a celibate shaman in Bhutan. Like, really.)  I wanted to know if the whole detox circus actually holds merit and is truly beneficial to people rather than just a quick shit-out-your-body-weight + pile-on-weight-as-soon-as- you-look-at-food kinda thing.


I hope that our conversation informs you about detoxing before you decide to adventure on that journey. 


WBC : Hey lovely, thanks for joining me on this conversation today. I'll jump right in and get us started. This seems to be the time that everyone takes score of their behaviour and decide to try a detox. Other than people wanting to make up for extremely naughty behaviour around Xmas and New Years, what are some other reasons for people to detox their body?


Nina: My pleasure - thanks for having me. Well, to answer your question, congestion can manifest in different areas of the body depending on a person's constitution. Symptoms such as constipation, headaches, skin problems, unhealthy weight gain, tiredness, mental fatigue, morning nausea, menstrual problems can all indicate that some form of detoxification would be beneficial.


WBC: What are the common mistakes that you hear of when people try to detox?


Nina: Spending lots of money on expensive "detox" programs from the chemist that promise full body detox or weight loss in 2 weeks! Not eating enough of the right kind of calories can be a mistake too leading to hunger and binge eating. Juicing is good but just having lots of fruit messes with blood sugar levels and creates hunger. 


WBC: So there isn't a one size fits all detox program?


Nina: Definitely not. Different body types need to approach detoxing differently. Some people are not strong enough to cope with a full detox and others are. Toxins are stored in fat cells so when there is rapid weight loss involved toxins are released in greater quantities than normal and other health problems can result. The person would feel pretty ill too. A more balanced approach is the way to go.


WBC: Wow! I didn't realise that with the toxins in the fat cells!


Nina: Yes I know, so all these drastic detox/weight loss programs might look good for the initial results but other problems come later.


WBCWhat would be a relatively easy habit for someone who doesn't necessarily want to do a huge detox overhaul but just wants to add a healthy addition into their routine?


Nina: If you eat meat, then reducing your meat intake or even having "Meat Free Mondays" is a good start to give the colon a break. Remember to substitute with a good quality vegetable protein though otherwise you won't feel full and satisfied after eating. Having a glass of warm water 20-30 minutes before breakfast. Always eating a low GI breakfast, with some protein too, will set you up for the day. Reducing saturated fats, alcohol, salt, refined sugar and caffeine will all help too.


WBC: Haha! All the fun stuff! 


Nina: Yes, I know! So don't try a detox before or during Christmas just try to monitor your intake of that kind of stuff.


WBC: Any sorts of food that you could recommend that are low GI?


Nina: Low GI foods are good fats such as nuts and avocado. Also brown rice, oats and unrefined carbs.


WBCIf someone wanted to go the whole hog and do a full detox, what is your recommendations for the ideal individual detox?


Nina: Ideally it would be best to see a qualified practitioner to assess what systems of the body need detoxing and then receiving a tailor made treatment plan. But if that's not possible then I would aim for cleansing the liver and bowels. Eating "clean" which is unprocessed, unrefined whole foods will really help. Fibre and water will help to keep the bowels hydrated and moving. Green bitter foods will help to cleanse and stimulate the liver.


WBCSome people may feel a bit nervous, wondering what a treatment plan might entail - in a nutshell, what sorts of things would be involved?


Nina: Herbs and supplements are prescribed that aim at not only cleansing the system but also supporting it. This means that after the detox better future health can also be attained, giving lasting results. Appropriate diet advice for the person is also given taking into mind their situation and any dietary restrictions they might have. This usually provides a more realistic and attainable treatment plan for people and one they feel they can handle.


WBCThat's great - it's also good to have someone to be accountable to (a qualified practitioner) and who can monitor you and be of support if you need them.


Nina: Yes for sure. No one is perfect and hiccups can happen along the way. Lack of motivation too can slow things down, so having someone to support you through it is always great. Also other health issues can crop up as a result of the detoxing process, it's like "peeling away the layers". So having a qualified practitioner there to help address these issues is highly beneficial and important to the whole process.


WBCHow long should you follow a detox program for?


Nina: Depending on the state of a person's system would determine how long it would need to be for. If it's done slowly and relatively gently, so as not to make a person feel ill, I would say a minimum of 2 weeks but preferably a little longer. When it comes to the female repro system it takes 90 days for the body to produce an egg so treatment would need to be for a minimum of 3 months before significant changes would be seen. 


WBCWould that reference to women's systems be for someone who has hormonal/fertility issues happening or for women in general?


Nina: Any woman that has congestion in her repro system (and liver actually as that is responsible for clearing the used up hormones) such as PMS, heavy bleeding, lack of bleeding, PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids and of course fertility issues would need 3 months for successful treatment.


WBCThanks so much for taking the time and sharing your professional advice on this. I know you have helped me out so much in the past with your herbal knowledge and I hope others take away some sound info from this.


Nina: Thanks for having me!  You can find me at Herbs Health and Inner Harmony, 105/20 Dale Street, Brookvale, 2100. Tel: 0406-628240