Toxins are all around, but there are ways to cleanse the body through cultivating sound habits. Some of these tips help to enhance one’s immune system, which is vital to fight off the infection that is going around.
Just as your car engine needs regular servicing, your body also needs to be cleansed at regular intervals. Detoxification (‘detox’ for short) is a good way to flush out toxins arising from stress, physical exertion, pollution as well as negative habits, such as smoking and unhealthy eating.
The good news is that your body is designed to eliminate toxins. The liver converts toxins into non-harmful substances; the kidney filters out toxins and excess salt from the blood; and the lungs filter the air we breathe in. If we take care of our organs, we can help our body detox and stay rejuvenated naturally.
Here are some ways we can help optimise our body’s detox system.Limit your alcohol intake
When you drink alcohol, your liver has to work extra hard. Alcohol metabolises to acetaldehyde, which your liver recognises as a toxin and acts quickly to convert it into the less harmful acetate. This can be broken down and eliminated from your body. Excessive drinking can severely damage your liver to the point where it can no longer filter waste and other toxins from your body. Drink in moderation: at most, two standard drinks a day for men and one for women. Abstain from drinking if you suffer from health conditions such as heart disease, certain blood disorders, and high blood pressure, among others.
Get enough sleep
Singaporeans are among the world’s worst sleepers, getting just an average of 6.3 hours of sleep on weekdays and 6.7 hours on weekends, according to the annual Philips global sleep survey. Sleeping helps your brain rest and recharge. Lack of sleep has been linked to short- and long-term health consequences, such as stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease and more. Ensure adequate sleep of seven to nine hours every night. Stick to a sleep schedule and limit smartphone and computer usage prior to bedtime.
Drink more water
“Drink more water” is one of the most common advice dished out when someone falls ill. It’s good advice because water flushes toxins from the body through urination and perspiration, and transports nutrients to where they are needed. It is recommended that we drink at least eight glasses (or about two litres) of water a day. This includes all types of fluids, even from foods such as porridge and fruits. If you exercise or perspire a lot, especially in our hot and humid climate, this is great advice. As a rule of thumb, if your urine appears dark-coloured and smells, you need to drink more water.
Cut down on sugary and processed foods
Sugary and processed foods have been linked to obesity and other chronic diseases that harm detoxifying organs. For example, drinking too much pop soda can cause fatty liver, a condition that negatively impacts liver function. Limit your intake of junk food, or replace them with healthier choices, such as fruits and vegetables.
Reduce salt intake
When you consume too much salt and not enough water, your body releases an antidiuretic hormone that impedes urination. This prevents detoxification, as your body cannot eliminate water and waste products effectively. Drink more water and eat more potassium-rich foods — such as potatoes, bananas and spinach — to counterbalance some of sodium’s effects.
Free radicals are produced by the body for cellular processes such as digestion. However, excessive free radicals arising from factors such as high alcohol intake, smoking, poor diet or exposure to pollutants can cause damage to your body’s cells. Known as oxidative stress, it can result in dementia, heart disease, liver disease and certain types of cancer. Eating foods rich in antioxidants, such as berries, fruits, nuts and green tea, can help your body fight oxidative stress.
Enhance gut health
Keeping your gut healthy enhances your body’s ability to detoxify. Good gut health begins with prebiotics, a type of fibre that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. It is important to maintain the balance of good bacteria to strengthen your immune and detoxification systems in order to reduce risk of disease and inflammation. Good food sources of prebiotics include tomatoes, bananas, onions, oats and garlic.
Regular exercise can kickstart the detox process as it encourages blood circulation, flushes out toxins through sweating, and regulates digestion by strengthening the abdominal muscles. Aim for 150 minutes of physical activity every week. This can be incorporated into daily activities (walking to the bus stop, taking the stairs, doing household chores, etc) as well as recreational activities (playing soccer or flying a kite).