The current season can leave us feeling a little bit like Santa Claus, as the many months we have put into eating well and keeping fit suddenly come to a halt—our last trip to the gym seeming like a lifetime ago as we put on our New Year’s Eve outfits.
It’s easy to overindulge on processed foods, sugar, and alcohol during this time, and many of us experience a complete lack of sleep or spend a lot of time traveling—all of which can take a huge toll on the body. By the time January arrives it’s no wonder many of us feel sluggish, bloated, and desperate for a detox to kick ourselves into gear for the year to come.
However, there are some simple things you can do to prevent this unpleasant feeling altogether! Below are some strategies to help detoxify your body (and still enjoy yourself) over the holiday party season.
Increasing your daily intake of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables—especially deeply pigmented produce and cruciferous vegetables like spinach, parsley, blueberries, bok choy, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts—is important for the detoxification process and will help buffer some of the onslaught on the liver.
Gut bacteria can be disrupted by processed foods, alcohol, and even a lack of sleep. And both alcohol and sugar tend to play around with your gut flora and interfere with the balance of good and bad bacteria. Eating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, and miso soup can help boost good intestinal bacteria, and taking a high-strength probiotic can help provide optimal support for healthy digestive and immune function.
Alcohol depletes many nutrients in our bodies but especially the B vitamins which are highly important for many biological processes. A good-quality multivitamin every day is a great place to start, especially on days that alcohol is consumed.
Some research has shown that the herb milk thistle can assist in buffering alcohol-induced liver damage. Milk thistle aids normal liver function, helps protect liver cells and has some antioxidant activity. Try supplementing with milk thistle both before and after spoiling yourself with that extra glass of vino to assist your liver in processing and removing the alcohol from your body.
They may be small in size but broccoli sprouts pack a huge punch when it comes to their nutritional value. These nutrient-packed sprouts are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Broccoli sprouts also contain a high amount of special compounds (like sulforaphane) that help prevent disease and increase well-being by supporting the liver and protecting against cellular damage.
A favorite in the Mediterranean kitchen, globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) has also been used medicinally for hundreds of years for it's liver-protecting properties. Artichokes can improve liver function and especially help with symptoms like constipation, flatulence, belching, bloating, and stomach discomfort.
Detoxing (the right way) isn’t about depriving your body of food and nutrients, it's about supporting the liver—our body's second-largest organ—the best way we can so that it can filter toxins and eliminate them efficiently from the body.