New Year’s resolutions inevitably include some goals around food, and most often, they are short-term goals. Like “dieting” for six weeks to get rid of the holiday fat gained (how do people put on 8 kgs in two weeks??), or a 30-day detox to “boost the metabolism.” If you did end up that far off the rails, then you most certainly have some changes to make because if you don’t, you’ll be in a far worse condition next January! But crash diets and detoxes aren’t the solution. Correction, they aren’t A solution.
Detoxes and diets are what today’s lazy society gets suckered into doing to “rid their bodies of toxins” and “fast track their health.” A silver bullet, sensible nutrition and training aren’t sufficient to make and keep us healthy. You therefore need a special mix of herbs and supplements, a diet of liquidised fruit and vegetables, or concoctions that flush the liver. Just for around 30 days, though.
Let me first state that the concept of needing to remove toxins and clean up the diet is real. But our bodies are well equipped with highly efficient and natural methods to remove toxic substances. Yes, you need sensible nutrition to support those processes. And detoxes and cleanses are anything but sensible.
The liver and kidneys are your innate detox units. The liver prevents pathogens from entering the blood stream and has a nifty way of removing insoluble toxins via the kidney. The kidneys filter out acids, remove urea and other waste, and control water and electrolyte balances. We have lungs to get rid of carbon-dioxide. These are just some of the well equipped systems the human body has to detox and cleanse.
The most obvious way then to keep the body clean is to support the functions of its vital organs. We do that largely by eating foods that contain supportive elements and by avoiding foods that contain harmful elements. Eat a variety of animal proteins from reputable sources. Avoid polyunsaturated fats and hydrogenated oils – manmade fats and oils. Avoid refined sugars and processed foods. Don’t binge on alcohol. Eat lots of vegetables, some fruit, nuts and seeds, and little starch. Drink (water) to thirst and eat when hungry. Do all of this at least 80% of the time.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Detox advocates will generally argue about all the environmental toxins in the air, water we drink and surfaces we’re in contact with. But the reality is that the ‘food’ being consumed poses the biggest threat.
There is no concrete evidence to support the efficacy of detox and cleanse programs. And even if they do work, they aren’t designed to be sustainable and therefore whatever results they might effect are not permanent. It’s like flushing and replacing your vehicle’s oil every month – unless you replace the filter every time you do so, you aren’t taking care of the root cause of dirt build up.
This is very much why diets don’t work either. Unless the changes you’re going to implement are manageable for at least 80% of the time in the long term, that is, forever, you’re going to become a yo-yo. ‘Diet’ for six weeks, off the rails for three months, diet for six weeks………
I also believe that people use diets as an excuse for when they’re out of shape. “I haven’t been dieting, that’s why I’ve picked up body fat.” No, young grasshopper, you’ve picked up fat and your performance sucks because you were dieting.
It’s pretty simple, in my opinion. Eliminate items that mess up your bodily processes (man made stuff), eat nutritious whole foods at least 80% of the time (eat whatever satisfies your soul the rest of the time), sprinkle with regular training, sufficient sleep, and add lots of sun. Instil healthy lifestyle habits. Do things that you can maintain forever.