Too much booze, naughty foods while burning the candle at both ends? If you've been punishing your body, then first of all hope you had fun, but more importantly, your body is now probably in desperate need of a period of detoxification.
Embarking on a detox is a natural way to flush toxins from the body, which can enter your system via certain types of food and drink and environmental factors like pollution and cigarette smoke. Your body does a decent job of getting rid of these foreign invaders, but if you've overloaded your system by partying too hard then eating the right foods is essential for speeding up the process. Join us as we run through 10 of the best detoxifying foods.
Oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit; it doesn't matter which one of these gives your taste buds the greatest tickle, they're all part of the citrus family, which means a plethora of detoxifying qualities. Lemons, a favourite among celebs for their body-cleansing properties, are thought to restore the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut as well as flushing toxins from your system, so try substituting your morning cup of tea or coffee for a simple slice of lemon in hot water. Oranges and grapefruits, meanwhile, are rich in the antioxidants known as flavonoids, which expel damaging free-radicals from your system and protect against cell damage and disease.
What could be simpler - or cheaper - than flushing your body of toxins with eight daily glasses of pure, crisp water? As well as improving cognitive function and boosting our energy levels, drinking plenty of water provides your body's cells with enough H20 to keep them functioning properly. Just one thing - if you're doing a lot of exercising and therefore losing a lot of fluids through perspiring, then you may need to drink more than the recommended amount. Just don't drink too much, as excessive amounts can lead to brain injury.
There are over 7,000 different varieties of apple in the world (meaning you could eat a different one every day for over 19 years), and they're all overflowing with vitamins, minerals and nutrients, which aid the detoxifying process. Apples are full of dietary fibre, which cleanses the colon, the antioxidants, flavonoids and terpenoids they contain also prevent cell damage and stimulate the production of bile in the liver, which again helps to rid the body of pesky, toxic invaders.
Eat your greens! Why? Because veggies like broccoli, kale, sprouts, spinach and watercress are full of dietary fibre to boost your digestive system but also essential vitamins A and C (which the body can't produce on its own), iron, beta-carotene and calcium. The nutrients in green vegetables break down into sulphorophanes, which have a stimulating effect on the detox process. Nutritionists recommend eating them raw when you can (aim for one raw meal a day) as this prevents the loss of vital nutrients through boiling or other forms of cooking.
The dark hue says it all - blueberries are bursting with antioxidants, anthocyanidins and the nutritional equivalent of a superhero, ellagic acid, which all combine to prevent cell damage and remove unwanted particles from the body. But they're not the only berry central to your successful detox. Be sure to make the most of blackberries, strawberries and raspberries, while the slightly more exotic goji berries are packed to the gunnels with vitamins, beta-carotene and iron. Sprinkle berries on your cereal or porridge for the perfect detox breakfast.
What better way to encourage toxins to make a sharp exit from your system than eating spicy food? But even if the curries and oriental dishes don't bring you out in a sweat, the spices used to make them are powerful detoxifying agents. Take turmeric, for example; known as the Indian saffron, turmeric contains curcumin, a nutrient which stimulates detoxification of the liver, the organ which deals with the substances we produce in our system on a daily basis as well as the toxins that we ingest through our naughty habits or purely because of the environment around us.
Like drinking water - but better! Swapping caffeine for a herbal tea should be top of your detox 'to-do' list, so make sure you pick one with several purifying properties. Fennel, for example, is loaded with vitamin C, potassium and manganese, which are believed to aid digestion. It's also thought to reduce swelling and fluid retention. If you normally imbibe a lot of coffee, then cardamom is thought to be adept at detoxifying caffeine, and has also been linked to improving digestion and stomach problems (it is a mild laxative). More tea, vicar?
Grazing on nuts makes many of us think of Christmas and festive season weight gain, but in reality, nuts and seeds make the perfect snack for those of us in pursuit of a proper detox. Brazil nuts, for example, are packed with selenium, which increases the number of white blood cells in the body, which protects us from infection. Cashew nuts (plain, rather than roasted or salted) are a good source of monounsaturated fat and copper, which protect the heart and blood vessels. Sunflower seeds, meanwhile, are full of vitamin E, which strengthens the hair and skin. Keep a small pouch in your handbag to satisfy your hunger pangs and help along your detox.
Why is brown rice so much better for you than white? Consider these facts: the process of milling and polishing brown rice into white destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 90% of vitamin B6, half of the manganese and all of the dietary fibre and fatty acids, all of which are thought to aid the detoxification process. Brown rice, on the other hand, has only lost its outer layer, so the majority of this nutritional bounty is left untouched.
'Stinking rose' it may be, but don't dare to knock its detoxifying qualities. Garlic has been prized for its medicinal qualities (eat a raw clove when you feel a cold coming on and you'll clear right up), and it is rich in antioxidants that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other conditions. It's also thought to be a potent antibacterial, mainly due to a compound called allicin, which hunts down and clears harmful bacteria from your system, leaving you feeling in tip-top shape.