Spring clean detox methods that actually work

Now spring has officially sprung it’s time to give our bodies a cleansing overhaul.

Whether you want to shed those excess pounds gained indulging in comfort foods over the winter, or simply put a little spring in your step, there’s a detox method that can work for you.

What to eat for Spring

It’s often as simple as making the right choices about what to eat and key to this is choosing seasonal fresh produce packed with natural nutrient goodness.

A top tip is to look for the season’s best asparagus, cherries, and artichokes from your local market, all of which help boost the bodies liver function to help you detox naturally.

Similarly eliminating processed foods containing refined carbohydrates and sugars can let you feel energized and less bloated.

Why not try the popular Elimination Diet?

While it’s difficult to eliminate all foods, it’s proven that by cutting out allergy triggering foods such as sugar, alcohol, gluten, dairy and soy milk, caffeine, and factory-farmed meat for a few weeks, then slowly reintroducing them into your diet, can help you uncover any negative hidden effects.

If you suffer from common illnesses it is helpful to note down if changing your diet has elevated your symptoms of conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), fatigue, acid reflux or eczema which are all associated with excessive dairy, gluten and caffeine consumption.

What to drink

Staying properly hydrated is essential to aiding concentration and maintaining healthy organ function. It also plays an important role in eliminating free-radical waste essential for a good detox.

More than half your body weight is made up of water, but we often don’t get enough, leading to headaches, water retention, fatigue or lightheadedness.

By swapping calorie rich coffees and fizzy drinks for water you can also cut out empty calories and help eliminate bloating.

To ensure you get your recommended two liters a day why not:

– Keep a bottle of water by your desk at work.

– If you find water too boring, try adding slices of fresh lemon or lime.

– Or swap plain water for herbal teas or vegetable juices which have the added benefit of being rich in anti-oxidants.

– Make sure to drink water before you eat, as thirst is often confused with hunger.

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

Most would agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The NHS insists that research shows that people who eat breakfast are slimmer because they tend to eat less over the course of the day, and in particular, snack less. Experts have previously warned that missing breakfast is a sure fire way to make people raid the snack drawer and pile on the pounds. Yet it seems there isn’t conclusive evidence to back such claims.

Research conducted by the Bath Breakfast Project at the University of Bath in the U.K. examined breakfast consumption or morning fasting and used assessments of energy balance and health in an obese population. They found that neither obese people who eat breakfast, nor those who miss it, lost weight.

These are similar findings to the group’s earlier study of lean people, who were found to have consumed in excess of 500 calories more a day on average if they ate breakfast.

“Despite strong public belief regarding the role of regular breakfast in human health, most evidence linking the omission of breakfast with negative health outcomes is based on cross-sectional associations and prospective cohort studies,” wrote the authors.

Scientists add the evidence fits in with what others have been finding recently.

“Randomized controlled trials in free-living adults have begun to question the causal nature of these links between breakfast habits, components of energy balance, and health,” they said.

The link between missing breakfast and overeating later is further contradicted by another randomized controlled trial of 283 people that found no difference in weight gain between those who ate breakfast and those who did not.

The breakfast issue is part of the ongoing debate around fasting, and researchers conclude that eating in the morning is a personal choice.

If you are not hungry, and especially if you are overweight, then don’t eat out of some notion that breakfast is essential. Breakfast is of course important for children, athletes, and for people who need to perform at their top capacity.

The research was first published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Get fruity and veg out

Everyone knows fruit and vegetables are an essential part of a daily diet, and yet even the healthiest among us often find it a chore to gobble up the goodness we need.

But there is a cheat sheet that can help you get the greens you need without really knowing it.

It can start with the best smoothie known to man for breakfast and continue with some clever ways around meal presentation – using fruit and veg as bowls and eating tools!

That smoothie, by the way, is simple and cheap – and really good for you. Simply grab a handful of kale, a chopped up banana, a peeled pear or apple and a little soy or almond milk and blend to a texture that works for you, adding less or more milk. Then pour into a see-through travel cup, so everyone can see you’re a person who cares about health – and enjoy! It tastes much better than it looks.

But don’t stop there!

Take fruit and vegetables like peppers, avocados – the world’s healthiest food, tomatoes and prepare meals using them as bowls, filled with yummy ingredients using the flesh you scoop out. No waste and what a wonderful way to lunch.

Then for dinner, pick up fresh fruit and vegetables on the way home and challenge yourself with weird and wacky recipes using the goodness in your basket.

If you’re a working mom, get the kids to help out, so they know what good food looks like and feels like. Children do like to eat what they cook, so get them involved.

And if you must cheat with a weekly pizza, dress it up with roasted brussel sprouts, broccoli or cauliflower or add a delicious salad that’s a little different from the norm using at least two fruits and two vegetables. A good salad book is a must for any self-respecting health guru. Recommended reading: The Vegetarian Guide to Diet & Salad by Dr Norman Walker, Lisa Brown’s Salad of The Week: 52 Amazing Salad Recipes For Healthy Eating & Weight Loss, and Don Orwell’s Healthy Salads.

It’s also a great idea to have a vegan week once a month, when you cut dairy and meat from your diet completely. It might seem like quite the challenge at first, but you’ll quickly enjoy the detective work as you shop for what you can eat, discovering interesting food facts as you go. Plus, you’ll quickly enjoy the energy boost and the way you feel and look.

A glass of wine a day keeps heart attacks at bay

Not a day goes by when we’re not told different information alcohol; first its red wine keeps the heart healthy then it’s even light drinking can cause cancer.

So before you feel guilty about taking a sip of the refreshing pint, or shun savoring a glass of red, a brand new study has discovered that moderate drinking can in fact prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Harvard University found that while in the first three hours after drinking alcohol a person’s heart rate is increased and the normal heart pace is disrupted, after 24 hours moderate alcohol intake protects the heart by improving blood flow and the function of the lining of blood vessels. It also reduces clotting.

In turn this is linked to a lower risk of a heart attack or stroke from bleeding on the brain. The time frame also shows improvement a week after drinking, and after seven days it was found the risk of a stroke by a blood clot is reduced.

Moderate drinking was defined by the scientists as six drinks a week. However, when a person indulges in heavier drinking, 15 or more each week for men and more than eight for women, there’s a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. This was shown both immediately after drinking and long term.

To reach their results, the Harvard team looked at 23 studies that included nearly 30,000 participants.

“There appears to be a transiently higher risk of heart attack and strokes in the hours after drinking an alcoholic beverage but within a day after drinking, only heavy alcohol intake seems to pose a higher cardiovascular risk,” said Harvard University’s Dr Elizabeth Mostofsky.

“Just after drinking, blood pressure rises and blood platelets become stickier, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

“However, regularly drinking small amounts of alcohol in the long term appears to both increase levels of HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein cholesterol) the so-called good cholesterol, and reduce the tendency to form blood clots,” she explained, adding, “If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.”

The findings were published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

Fizzy drink consumption = Organs wrapped in fat

We all know that snacking on bags of crisps and bars of chocolate washed down with a litre of something fizzy is no good for our waistline or insides. In fact, very few people need another study to tell them the dangers of a diet high in sugar and fat, but unfortunately it’s an area of growing concern as obesity continues to soar across the world.

This time, latest research highlights the damage fizzy drinks cause to our insides, with those consuming the sugary beverages daily finding their organs wrapped in fat.

Scientists at the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Massachusetts followed 1,000 middle-aged participants for six years to conclude their results. Everyone in the study was asked how often they drank fizzy drinks and underwent X-rays to determine how much visceral fat they had.

Visceral fat is harmful fat stored within the abdominal cavity, which means it lingers around a number of important internal organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines. As well as making people pile on the pounds, visceral fat plays an important part in diabetes, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.

The results have been published in medical journal Circulation, with the team finding those who drank sugary or fizzy drinks every day put on nearly a litre in extra visceral fat over the six years. That’s 30 per cent more than those who never consumed the beverage.

Diet drinks didn’t yield the same results, which suggests it’s sugar that causes the problem. The team suggests that insulin resistance triggered by added sugar could be to blame for fat increase.

“There is evidence linking sugar-sweetened beverages with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes,” Dr Caroline Fox, who led the new study, explained.

“Our message to consumers is to follow the current dietary guidelines and to be mindful of how much sugar-sweetened beverages they drink. To policy makers, this study adds another piece of evidence to the growing body of research suggesting sugar-sweetened beverages may be harmful to our health.”

Talk of a sugar tax is ongoing in Britain, with the latest study poised to add even more weight to the argument to make sugary treats more expensive.