There has been much hype in the health industry recently about the merits of ‘cleansing’ or ‘fasting’. If you care to research this topic further there is alot of literature supporting the merits of both to achieve optimal health. Results range from greater mental clarity/focus to decreased blood pressure and possibly even slowing down the ageing process. Fasting for even 8 hours, causes the body to dip into glucose stored in the liver and muscles as a source of energy. As well as aiding weight loss, Dr. Razeen Mahroof, of the University of Oxford in the UK, explains that the use of fat for energy can help preserve muscle and reduce cholesterol levels. “A detoxification process also occurs, because any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body,” he adds, noting that after a few days of fasting, higher levels of endorphins – “feel-good” hormones – are produced in the blood, which can have a positive impact on mental well-being.
What is a detox:
- Endongenous – (made from inside of you) hormones, brain chemicals, cellular waste from fatigue exercise. Or chemicals from the good/bad bugs that live inside your stomach and membranes.
- Exogoneous – (comes from outside) hormones, pollution, natural or synthetic food chemicals, poisons, venoms. Not to mention synthetic or natural drugs, inhalants, cosmetics, dental fillings, vaccinations, pesticides, electromagnetic radiation and fertilisers to name a few.
When should you detox:
How to Detox:
- Starting each day with apple cider vinegar or lemon in warm water
- Drinking fresh vegetable juice daily full of super greens
- Eliminating alcohol and caffeine
- Eating more raw foods such as vegetables and fruit
- Reducing your intake of red meat or meat products
- Using only natural cleaning, bathing and hygiene products
- Eliminating white sugar and processed foods
- Eliminating toxic people out of your life
- Drink more green tea or herbal teas like dandelion and ginger
- Exercising more and stressing less
Exercise Recommendations whilst on a Detox/Cleanse:
Your goal, whilst on a detox is to let your body do what it needs to do, that is rid itself of toxins. The right type of exercise can actually facilitate this process, but the wrong type, or too much exercise can detract from it. Exercising provides a great pathway for detoxification to naturally occur simply by sweating and breathing. Sweat increases our blood flow to our working muscles and carries away damaged cells which make us less sore after a workout. It also dials up heat-shock proteins (a special set of responders that safeguard other proteins from damage) repair any damaged ones and produce new ones. Exercise also stimulates our digestive and lymphatic systems so we expel toxins quicker and more efficiently. The key whilst detoxing/cleansing is to pick the right cleanse and pair it with the right type of exercise.
Here are my recommendations around certain exercises and cleansing:
- Yoga (Hatha or Gentle Yoga): The purpose of Hatha yoga is to stretch and restore energy due to it’s relaxing nature. The more intense cleanses can be completed whilst still practicising Hatha. These include 3-5 day juice or aw food cleanses. Opt for juices full of vital greens to restore iron levels or juices full of red beets, oranges and carrots to stimulate and sustain you.
- Power/Hot Yoga: The more dynamic Yoga’s do need more energy to perform and usually more sweat to be expelled. For these types of mind/body classes opt for a more protein rich drink to aid in recovery, especially taken after the workout itself. Add ingredients such as almond or any other nut milk, coconut water for hydration or a pea protein to assist with any breakdown in muscle.
- Weight/Strength Training: Similarly to Power Yoga, heavy strength work can cause tiny tears in the muscle fibres which require protein rich foods to repair them. Include a higher level of protein in your detox/cleanse if you would still like to weight train. Some of these foods include green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, sprouts, brussel sprouts. Fruits to include are avocados, guavas, apricots, peaches, kiwi fruit, blackberries, oranges, bananas, rock melon and raspberries. Ensure you supplement your shakes with a good quality pea protein powder.
- Walking/Low Impact Exercise: Even low intensity exercise still requires energy, ensure walks and low impact exercise are no more than 45-60 minutes in duration. You may want to add metabolism boosting spices such as cinammon or jalapenos to kick start your weight loss . Citrus fruits like limes, oranges, grapefruits also have chemical properties that help decrease insulin levels and promote weight loss. Not to mention, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower and bok choys being cruciferous vegetables that help jump start your metabolism and assist with weight loss.
- Running/High Intensity/Cycling/Endurance: For endurance or high intensity activities such as running or cycling an intensive 3-5 day juice only cleanse is probably not optimal for replenshment and repair. Food is required for these type of activities especially to sustain energy and to repair muscle and cells. Alongside food, green juices are good because they are high in potassium which helps with muscle contraction and prevents cramps. Ensure you get plenty of raw solids too—like avocados, nut butters, nut milks, whole fruits, and vegetables. Aim for a minimum of 1500 calories a day and add some pea protein for muscle repair. Coconut water will help for added hydration and maintaining your electrolyte balance.
- Swimming/Pilates: Toning exercises like swimming and pilates still get the cardiovascular system going. Try adding ‘super foods’ such as goji berries, acai berries and spirulina to a vegetable mix for extra vitamins and minerals. Lastly, throw in a blend of almonds, plant protein, dates and omega-rich flax to boost tissue repair.
Recently there has been a shift away from the terms ‘health and fitness’ to a more encompassing term used to describe our overall health called ‘wellness’. You only need to look on social media for an increase in the amount of people describing themselves as ‘wellness warriors’ using hashtags such as #nourishing and #fitmotivation whilst striking the latest Yoga pose. I should know! I am one of the converted as well!
The shift for me has been a positive one as more and more research has come out to support the fact that our overall health is made up of much more than what we put into our mouths and what type of exercise we do.
Whilst our diet and exercise play an important role in how we look and feel, these are just smaller parts to the bigger picture to what I describe as, our ‘Holistic Health’.
Our Holistic Health is comprised of the following 5 lifestyle factors:
We have somewhere between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts on any given day that is 35-48 thoughts per person per minute. As you can imagine that is a lot of information for our rational brains to process. When we think, we manipulate information to form concepts, engage in problem solving, reason and make decisions. Not all thoughts are deemed equal, and sometimes when we are under stress or are feeling tired or depleted our rational brain finds it hard to make decisions and think positively this can be described as ‘stinking thinking’.
Long-term stress can wreak havoc on our physical health thru the presence of injuries and mental health concerns. If left untreated, the ill effects of stress can lead to time off work, niggling injuries that don’t get better and even the breakdown of oneself and our relationships.
In order to maintain positive thinking and manage stress levels it is important to take time out everyday to ‘switch off’ from distractions and allow yourself to be present with your own company and thoughts.
Options to help manage stress levels include mental awareness apps such as ‘Head Space’ which encourage you to take 10 minutes out of everyday for some mental wellbeing activities. Other ways you can help manage your stress include participating in a Yoga class, practicing some meditation or Tai Chi and even doing some adult drawing or colouring in.
How we breathe effects the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood at any given time replenishing our brain and other vital organs with essential nutrients. We take on average 20,000 breaths per day which, makes it an important part of our health to get right.
Breathing correctly can reduce your stress levels, improve the performance of your workouts and boost your immune system. Poor breathing can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, hyperventilation and even insomnia and depression.
When we are stressed our body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode and our breathing becomes more shallow and frequent. This causes us to breathe like we are hyperventilating which in turn increases our heart rate, leading to palpitations and contributes to feelings of anxiety and being out of control.
In order to breathe correctly we should focus on what we call ‘diaphragmatic breathing’. This technique involves placing one hand on our chest, say our left hand, and our right hand on our abdomen. When we breathe in and out your left hand should remain still and your right hand should move up and down. If your left hand is moving your breathing is too shallow and you are not using your diaphragm correctly. Practice taking slow deep breaths in and out until you perfect the technique. Take note of how this correct breathing technique will help boost your workouts and your health.
The average amount of water contained in the human body is approximately 50-65% for the average adult person. Considering our bodies are largely made up of water then it is crucial that we consume enough good quality water on a daily basis.
Water in the body is responsible for flushing wastes and toxins thru the body as well as metabolising and digesting food. It is also the primary building block for all of our cells, as well as helping to insulate and lubricate the body, and assist in regulating our body temperature.
The research around how much water to drink does vary but you should aim to consume 35-45ml/kg of fluid which translates into about 2-3 litres per day. An active person who trains for longer than 40 minutes per day training at a high intensity should add an extra 500-1000ml a day with athletes or people exposed to extreme heat more again.
Generally, an indication of being thirsty is the bodies way of telling you, your already dehydrated. Just losing even 1% of the bodies water has an impact on our physical performance as well as impairing our mental performance. Up to 70% of people are dehydrated at any one time a result of drinking too much coffee, juices and smoothies which are loaded with caffeine and sugar.
If your having trouble drinking enough water daily, try carrying around a drink bottle with a slice of cut up lemon or lime. Add vegetables such as sliced up cucumbers, carrots or mint leaves for a fresh zesty flavor. Add a glass of water before every meal and snack to help you feel fuller for longer and to stop the urge of wanting to overeat. Add a pinch of rock salt to assist in replacing essential minerals and salts lost thru perspiration as well as to help slow down the urination process.
Life is a about balance and when it comes to nutrition nothing beats a strong foundation of carbohydrates, good fats and proteins or what we commonly refer to as macronutrients. Where a lot of people get it wrong is when we start eliminating certain food groups in an attempt to lose weight often replacing proteins and carbs with foods loaded with hidden sugars.
The need to refuel throughout the day will largely depend upon your workload and individual energy requirements. If for example, you are a Personal Trainer like me and get up before 5am every morning to train and work, then I often need 2 small meals before lunchtime to keep me going. If you exercise during your lunch break you may find that you need a small snack before you train and a bigger meal after training to help manage hunger and energy levels or vice versa. As a general rule of thumb try not to leave longer than 3-4 hours between eating as this will help regulate your blood sugars and prevent you from overeating at your next meal.
Your 3-4 meals a day should consist of lean proteins to help build lean muscle and keep you feeling full as well as good fats such as olive oils, avocado’s nuts and seeds. Green vegetables such as spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli, cucumbers, beans and peas should be eaten with every meal to ensure you boost your immune system and help you get all of your essential vitamins and nutrients in.
We are a nation of alarming statistics with obesity levels on the rise with data from the ‘National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey’ (NHANES 2013-2014) stating that ‘1 in 3’ adults were considered to be overweight. More that ‘2 in 3’ adults were considered to be overweight or have obesity and ‘1 in 6’ children between the ages of 2-19 were considered to be obese.
‘Sitting’ has become the new ‘smoking’ with the majority of our adult population sitting at a desk for 8-12 hours a day up to 5 times a week. It’s no surprise then that the incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes is also on the rise, this is adding more strain to an already overflowing health system. According to the U.S division for “Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention’ about 630,000 Americans die from heart disease every year – that is 1 in 4 deaths. In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. According to the report also, the estimated cost of covering health care services, medications and lost productivity is approximately $200 billion each year.
Coupled with the heart disease facts is our current statistics on the incidence of diabetes. According to the “National Diabetes Statistics Report’ from the ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)), 30.3 million Americans have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes that is 9.4% of the population. From this 30.3 million people, 7.2 million are undiagnosed which means they do not even know that they have it.
Alarming statistics aside, a strategy to help improve our current health situation is to get moving more often. When clients ask my advice on how often they should exercise my response is always ‘everyday’. Now this may seem a little excessive but exercise doesn’t always have to be in a gym environment it could involve taking the dog for a walk after work, swimming laps in your lunch break or playing some social sport of a weekend.
Try to stick to exercise that you enjoy doing as you are more likely to stick with it long term. For those times when you think your motivation may be an issue enlist the services of a Personal Trainer who can design workouts specifically tailored for you or grab a workout buddy as you are less likely to cancel on them.
When it come to exercise variety is the ‘spice of life’, your body is very good at adapting to exercise so ensure you do a variety of cardio, resistance training, body weight exercises and stretching.
Ultimately, the responsibility of our health and wellness comes down to 1 person….which is ourselves. In order to not be a statistic of disease we have to move more and watch the amount of processed foods and drinks we consume.
Perhaps one of your goals for 2018 is to prioritize your health, which involves quitting the excuses and putting more time into your physical and mental wellbeing.