WINTER DETOX. THE PROS AND CONS by EMILY SHAW, AMAVEDA
WHY NOT TO DETOX IN JANUARY
It feels like it’s only a few minutes after wake up from weeks of holiday madness to find we are now being bombarded with New Year’s resolution tips and the January Detox. And it makes sense, we’re now really feeling the effects of all the overindulgence of December and want to rock the new year feeling amazing or at least feeling better.
Yet regardless of how urban culture has embraced the January Detox, this is probably the worst month of the year to put your body through a detox regimen. Below are some of the reasons why not to detox in January.
Disclaimer: When I refer to a ‘detox’ I am referring to the proactive hack for the sole purpose of eliminating toxins stored within the body. I am not talking about a nutrition plan. So drinking a “detox tea” or ordering a “detox salad’ is not a detox programme. I am referring to following a detailed detox protocol that facilitates a complete body reboot.
IT’S THE WRONG SEASON
The oldest system of detoxification in the world is called Pancha Karma and is a fundamental part Ayurvedic wellbeing, the natural medicine system of India with a recorded history of over 5000 years. So using this ancient detox system as a reference, the best time to detox the body, dictated through Ayurvedic wisdom is twice a year, during spring and fall. The energetics of spring and fall support change, encourage release and renewal and inspire the laying of new foundations. Whereas the winter months are seen as months of grounding, being dormant and eating heavier more nourishing foods. I like that this system is not based on our schedules or naughty holidays but that it acknowledging that our bodies are in fact a microcosm influenced by the macrocosm that is our environment and that we are impacted by these forces, conscious or not.
YOU’RE TOO BUSY
January is generally a very busy month for most people. Back to work, kicking off new projects, picking up all the pieces of December’s haze etc. This is relevant because the body requires a large amount of rest in order to repair itself and even more so with a lower caloric intake, such as when juice-fasting for example. Rushing around detoxing with a flask of green juice getting to get to the gym on overdrive will simply not work and is completely counter-productive to the process.
IT’S TOO COLD
The detox process is about convincing the body all is well, keeping stress hormones down and ensuring that it’s safe and appropriate to kick into ‘repair mode’ and start eliminating stored toxicity. When we’re cold, were closed and constricted. When we’re warm, we’re open and expansive. If you detox in January, every time you are cold, you are halting the process.
YOU CAN’T DETOX WITH FRUCTOSE
Most high end organic cold-pressed juices on the market are up to 50% extracted fruit. In general, the fruit of choice is apple or pear because of their high fructose content so it makes green juice tasty. While apples are excellent nutritious foods and can be used to heal in a variety of ways, any juice high in fructose is fairly useless if you are actively in a detoxification process. Here’s why: The toxins we store in our bodies are not water-soluble meaning they cannot be flushed out of the system with liquids. Non-water-soluble toxins are stored in our fat cells so, therefore, we must burn fat if we want to eliminate the majority of toxicity stored in our bodies. There are 10 - 100 times more toxins in your fat than in your blood, so until we burn fat cells for energy conversion, toxins remain stored in our fat cells. Simply put, when we need energy, we burn sugars and when we starve the body of sugars, it must burn fat for fuel, burning up these little toxic storage units. Point: you can’t detox on fructose.
HOW TO JAN-DETOX CORRECTLY
You feel horrible, you’ve completely over-indulged during the holidays, your liver is taxed out and you want to rock the new year feeling amazing, with a fresh start, as your best self. I get it. So here’s how.
USE COOKED FOODS
From the Ayurvedic perspective, raw foods need strong “Agni” or digestive strength and are best consumed during hot seasons and with seasonal vegetables (so logical). In contrast, warming cooked foods are much easier to digest and require less digestive enzymes. Raw foods are for strong healthy digestion, cooked foods are how you heal the body. To detox is to treat the body like it’s unwell, hacking into our repair systems. Would you give a 10 ingredient raw salad to a 90-year-old in a hospital? No, you give them porridge or soup. Detoxing in winter is for resting the digestive system so all our detox systems can repair cells and burn fat. Remember, it's not a nutrition plan, it’s detox hack.
For many people, weight loss is often the motivator to detox, as it can induce a dramatic reduction of body fat. The modern science of nutrition is filled with studies and data supporting the idea that the increase of “good fats’ into the diet is actually a way of boosting fat metabolism. So even though eating plenty of fats during a detox might seem counter intuitive, it is in fact a supportive practice and of course more in line with seasonal eating. Point being, get in line with seasonal eating and modern nutrition sciences and increase fat intake during a winter detox.
For most people, there is quite a lot of anxiety around entering into detox programme, more specifically the lack of food, coffee, alcohol or sweets. We are creatures of habit after all so it’s understandable. This anxiety must also be addressed since our body will not detoxify or repair when there is too much sympathetic nervous system activity. So, in order to compensate here, you can ramp up the detox process by working to remain calm, utilizing the benefits of your parasympathetic nervous system. If you want to detox your body in January, you must create a time frame for your programme that will allow you to rest and chill out as much as humanly possible.
SWEAT IT OUT
Far infrared saunas, traditional saunas, steam baths and generally anywhere you can heat up from the inside is of huge benefit during a winter detox. Luckily, this is a total luxury in winter and can create a fantastic evening ritual, especially if you’re detoxing with a friend. Meeting up every other evening at a local spa or gym with a sauna instead of the pub to keep yourself from feeling isolated from your friends is a big detox booster.
Emily has guided hundreds of people through her group detox programmes since 2012 and runs international luxury detox retreats in Brazil, Peru and the UK.
Emily will be facilitating a seasonally-appropriate Ayurvedic- inspired January at-home detox programme for those who just can’t wait until spring to feel amazing in their body. Jan 12-19th
More info HERE