Pilar Manzanaro is an accredited Nutritional Therapist (Dip BCNH, BANT, CNHC) and runs her company Purple Carrot Nutrition, specialising on how diet and nutrition can help support women’s health and have a positive impact on and hormonal balance, fertility, pregnancy and beyond. Pilar uses her diet and nutrition knowledge to support children health and development from birth to the teen-years.
Read Pilar's simple guide to a gentle detox for a great start to the year
First of all, our bodies have amazing built-in systems to metabolise toxins and eliminate them, mainly via the liver, gut and kidneys, although the skin can plan an important role too.
Our liver metabolises toxins and hormones in two stages:
Stage 1 is unregulated by alcohol, smoking, charred meats or burnt foods (BBQ as lightly as you possibly can!), saturated fats especialy those not organic , pesticides and steroids (induing the ones we produce naturally like cortisol when we are stressed!)
But not just that, not eating enough (fasting), not having enough protein, iron overload (please please please never get an iron supplement without checking with your GP or nutritionist first), heavy metals like mercury in oily fish and lead in pollution, grapefruit, the pill and antihistamines
This next bit is super important, so read carefully: products from stage 1 can be even more harmful than the original toxins the liver is trying to detox, so we need plenty of antioxidants to protect our bodies from damage, especially if our stage 1 is upregulated because any of the factors above. So eat the rainbow!!
So how can you ensure these processes run as efficiently as possible?
Here are some tips to support stage 1 liver detox:
The most obvious action: cut back (that’s right back I’m afraid….) on alcohol, sugar, processed foods and dairy/gluten because they can promote inflammation
Reduce (better still, eliminate) caffeine except green tea which contains quercetin that can reduce inflammation and also helps boost phase 2 liver detox
Try to reduce your exposure to chemicals like cleaning products and cosmetics…go as natural as you can with brands like Jason, Ecover, Method, etc
Relax…yes, the less stress, the less cortisol/adrenaline your body will have to eliminate.
Replace some of your saturated fats with monounsaturated (olive oil, avocado, almonds) and polyunsaturated (oily fish, flax and chia seeds)
Eat plenty of veg (8-10 portions a day!) and the more colours the better to add plenty of antioxidants to your body to zap free radicals that the body produces daily
Ensure there is plenty of glutathione to support your liver and antioxidant load from spinach, avocado, turmeric, etc
B vitamins from meats, fish, eggs, green leafy veg and wholegrains
support both stage 1 and stage 2 liver detox
What to do to support the second stage of liver detox?
- Eat your broccoli (and cauliflower, kale, Brussel sprouts) because they are high in glucosinolates that balance your liver detox
- Boost your purple food intake (like purple carrots!!) because their colour comes from a phytochemical called anthocyanin which can boost the second stage of liver detox.
- Ensure there is plenty of protein (lean and organic if possible, beans are a great idea because they contain fibre too!) in your diet
- Ensure you eat sulphate-rich foods daily including beans, brassica vegetables (cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower), allium vegetables (onions, garlic, leeks) and eggs.
Our gut plays a hugely important role in detox. So how can we support how the gut eliminates already metabolised toxins:
- Eat fibre to the tune of 30g a day or more to ensure the toxins that your liver has so painstakingly metabolised, are not reabsorbed after sitting in the colon for too long
- Eat your probiotics including live yogurt (non-dairy), kefir (made with coconut milk), miso soup, kimchi, sauerkraut, soy sauce (low salt) to support your gut flora
- Ensure prebiotics are part of your daily diet which are the fibres that feed the good bacteria in your gut and you can find in bananas, asparagus, onions, garlic, leeks, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory
- Drink plenty of water for the fibre to absorb and move those toxins along quicklyLastly … toxins are also eliminated via the urine/kidneys so how can we help them along? The easiest way is drinking plenty of fluids (water, green juices and herbal teas) but we can also try to increase the urine pH to make it more alkaline, which helps with elimination. How? By increasing fruit and veg intake, reducing animal products including meats dairy and eggs, cutting back sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
- You can add a little lemon juice to your water too it if you like to alkalinise your urine but since lemon can be quite acidic on the teeth enamel, use a straw whenever you can!
Skin and detox
And last but not least the skin also helps eliminate toxins, so stay hydrated and indulge in saunas, scrubbing and exfoliating.
Exercise eliminate toxins via the skin when sweating but also helps reduce toxicity as working out burns fat where toxins are stored and also promotes regularity so your gut can eliminate toxins more efficiently!