Detoxing, while something your body does naturally, has been marketed to us as juice cleanses, fad diets, and fasting. In reality, detoxing is your body’s natural mechanism for getting rid of toxins and doesn’t need specific diets or supplements in order to function properly. There are things that you can do to enhance your body’s natural detoxification system, which end up being part of a healthy lifestyle anyway. Below we outline 5 things you can do to lead a healthier lifestyle and ensure that you start the new year off on your best foot.
Cutting out/back on alcohol
Alcohol is the fourth most popular beverage in the world, so it's no wonder that so many of us indulge in it at the end of the year, especially in a year as hard as this last one was. But, alcohol has detrimental effects on our body (1). While one glass of something isn’t enough to cause harm, the cumulative effects include long term inflammation, which leads to pancreatitis, liver damage, and a less effective immune system (2), to name a few, and can have damaging effects on your mental health. Alcohol and depression have been linked to one another, with alcohol having a stronger causal link, and while it can provide a few hours of relief, it usually starts a vicious cycle that damages your overall mental health (3). Cutting back on alcohol can be a great way to help reset your body and keep you healthy in the new year.
Eating more vegetables and healthy greens
Vegetarian and vegan diets are typically healthier than ones that rely heavily on meat (4). When we eat a lot of vegetables, we’re introducing more nutrients into our diet that we can’t get from meat. Vegetables and healthy greens are chalk full of vitamins E, A, C, B6, Selenium, and Copper, to name a few. These micronutrients are what help keep your immune system healthy, and are essential for the production of hemoglobin that provides the blood with oxygen, the manufacture of collagen to support the skin and healing wounds, and so much more (6).
Vegetables also provide you with more fiber that helps to reduce inflammation in your gut and keeps you healthy with short chain fatty acids (5). Having at least three fruits a day, a handful of mixed nuts, and eating a rainbow of vegetables daily will guarantee that you will have all of the micronutrients you need.
Implementing a supplement
While your diet should give you the majority of the nutrients you need, sometimes we can miss something and end up being deficient in the micronutrients that ensure our health. That’s where supplements come in, they can help to support your health in a myriad of ways. There are probiotics for optimal gut health, multi-vitamins and mineral complexes to aid rest and recovery and immune-boosting compounds all to help you feel your best in the new year without worrying if you are getting enough nutrients in your diet (7).
Digital detox - take time away from screens
With working from home, we’re all spending more time on our screens, including during our rest time. Screen time has been linked to everything from eye strain, to poor sleep habits, to negative mental health and weight gain due to a sedentary lifestyle. The blue light from screens mimics the light of the sun and can disrupt your circadian rhythm (8). One study found that playing a computer game before bedtime disrupted REM sleep and made sleep latency extremely longer than the control group (9). Experts have found that increased screen time is linked to depression (10) and to addictive behavior (11). There is no consensus on how much is too much, but it is definitely worth keeping track and cutting back in order to protect your health.
Schedule your worry time
This Cognitive Behavioral Therapy technique is something that everyone can benefit from. There’s a lot to worry about these days, so by scheduling time to worry, you push aside the small worries and allow for yourself to be more present in the moment. It’s a proven technique to help you decrease the amount of time spent worrying (12). In order to implement this, schedule in 10-15 minutes every day and write down all of your worries and stresses. Don’t feel the need to solve them right there and then, but if that’s where your mind goes, that’s okay too. In between your scheduled worry times, try to encourage yourself to only worry during your scheduled time, but if you don’t, that’s okay too. You won’t be perfect at this, it takes practice. Start with one week and if you find it beneficial, keep it going and you’ll find it easier to control when you worry and when you don’t (13). Worry can be an overwhelming force at times, but with techniques like this, it doesn’t have to be.
We all know that exercise is good for us, it has a number of benefits that can improve our physical and emotional health. Exercise releases endorphins, which produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain (14). A sedentary lifestyle leads to weight gain, while regular exercise has been proven to increase your metabolic rate, which burns more calories and helps you to lose weight (15). At the very least, get up every twenty minutes and walk around to prevent the harm of sitting for hours at a time. Exercise is good for your muscles and bones because it promotes the ability of the muscles to absorb amino acids which prevents them from breaking down and helps them to grow (16). It can also help you to have more energy, as one study discovered by having 36 people exercise over six weeks and tracking their energy levels (17). There are so many benefits to exercising and being active, it’s worth committing to for a healthier lifestyle.
The point of these detoxification techniques is not to do a fad diet or make a short term change to only go back a month later, but is to cultivate an overall healthier lifestyle that will help you in the long term. It’s worth doing a bit of a reset at the beginning of the year to reorient your goals and yourself, but the key is to ensure that the things you do are sustainable. In light of this, we are launching a seven day Be Well Challenge on our Instagram page to help you kickstart this period of change and to help you feel your best as we embark on this new year, keep an eye out for it starting the 11th of January.