You may well be thinking about doing a detox or cleanse of some sort as we head closer to the New Year. However, in doing research for my own “Get-back-on-track Plan”, I have found little scientific evidence on a detox plan or diet.
Detoxification can be defined as the elimination of toxins and harmful chemicals from the body. Many people suggest the use of diet, herbs, supplements and alternative therapies as part of a detox plan.
The liver is the main organ responsible for ridding the body of toxins. It has the mammoth task of filtering and cleaning 1.5 litres of blood every minute so that the body receives clean blood. It works hard to:
- Remove excess hormones like oestrogen and testosterone
- Eliminate toxic waste by sending it the kidneys
- Produce amino acids and enzymes used to metabolize food, including fat, protein and carbs.
So, you can see that the liver is hugely important, not only for removing harmful toxins from the body, but also for blood sugar regulation and hormonal balance.
The liver performs its job with precision but it can be overworked when we drink, smoke, have caffeine and generally “let go” like most of us probably did over the festive season.
So, whilst my “Get-back-on-track Plan” doesn’t necessarily include a full-blown detox, it does involve a “Be kind to your liver” plan. Here are some of the things that I plan on doing to get back on track and regain control, not only of my PCOS, but my eating and habits:
Ditch the caffeine
I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker but do enjoy diet sodas, chocolate and tea, all of which contain caffeine. Whilst small amounts of caffeine can give you a lift when you need an energy boost, it also has been shown to cause hormone imbalances in women. Many women who drink 2 or more cups of coffee a day have been shown to have elevated levels of oestrogen. This does not seem to have a significant impact on fertility in most women but women with PCOS tend to have oestrogen dominance already. Caffeine may just tip the scales in the wrong direction.
Caffeine can also overwork the adrenal glands, inhibit vitamin and nutrient absorption and has been linked with infertility.
So, I am going to cut out caffeine as much as possible.
Cut out Alcohol
I must say that I don’t generally drink but I do enjoy a glass of wine every now and then. Alcohol:
- Intake in excess can delay ovulation and cause difficulties in falling pregnant
- Is high in sugar and calories and can impact on your blood sugar and insulin levels
- Is processed by the liver and can interfere with it’s normal functioning
If you had a big festive season with lots of alcohol, eliminate it completely for a couple of weeks and give your liver the break that it needs to focus on dealing with any excess hormones and focus on metabolism. You can then reintroduce a glass of wine or beer every now and then.
Get some beauty sleep
Seriously! Studies have shown that people who sleep less than 5 hours per night have higher levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and less leptin (the hormone that makes you feel full) leading to weight gain. Bear in mind that these hormones are already out of whack in women with PCOS, causing our carb cravings and over-eating tendencies. Why add to that by depriving ourselves of our beauty sleep?
I know that it’s not always possible (I have a very busy two year old and am lucky if I get 6 and half hours a night) but for the next two weeks, I’m going to make it my goal to get 8 hours if I can.
Drink loads of water
Water is essential to life. It forms a huge portion of the body and blood volume. It also helps to eliminate toxins from the bowels as it causes fibre to swell, in addition to supporting the liver, kidneys and adrenals in their role of detoxing the body.
It is recommended that you drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. It is important that you drink pure water. Tap water contains thousands of additional chemicals, as well as man-made oestrogens. The water purification centres are also unable to rid the water of all dissolved chemicals.
You don’t need to go for bottled or mineral water. This comes with it’s own set of issues. The best thing is to get a good quality water jug with a filter (like BRITA). These filters remove limescale (caused by calcium and magnesium ions), and reduce chlorine, copper and lead content.
Eat fresh foods and vegetables
This goes back to The Best PCOS Diet and I won’t repeat all of the details here but it’s important to eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. They are high in nutrients, enzymes and vitamins, which will provide ample nutritive support for your body while it detoxes. These foods are also naturally high in fibre and will help your gut eliminate waste and prevent the absorption of oestrogen.
Just remember that if you are going to have fruit or something fairly high in carb, you’ll want to balance the carb with some protein so that you aren’t causing a huge spike in your insulin and sugar levels.
Ditch the carbs and eat clean
I think this goes without saying but I’m going to put it in here anyway. No refined, processed foods for the duration of your detox (and beyond!) Cut out the junk from your diet. If there are ingredients in your food that you can’t pronounce, don’t eat them! Think whole foods, lean meat and plenty of veggies!
Okay, so these are the steps that I’m taking to get back on track:
- Ditch the caffeine
- Cut out Alcohol
- Get some beauty sleep
- Drink loads of water
- Eat fresh foods and vegetables
- Ditch the carbs and eat clean
Leave me a comment below if you’re on board with the Get-back-on-track Plan and we can give each other some support and motivation!