Feeling run down after the Christmas season and thinking about doing a detox to start 2019 right?
It’s the time of year when articles about the magical benefits of detoxing flood the media. A fresh start is always appealing, especially when you’ve over-indulged. Unfortunately, detoxing—the idea that you can flush away stored toxins from bad food, alcohol or drugs—is a myth; our bodies simply don’t work this way.
To begin with, these toxins aren’t stored in our bodies. Luckily for us, our liver, kidneys, lungs and skin are breaking down and removing them all of the time. Nothing we do can make this system work better, aside from being healthier. (See medical researcher Nick Fuller’s article: Science or Snake Oil: can a detox actually cleanse your liver? )
… some detox products even contain ingredients that could be harmful for your liver. This is especially worrying for people with … liver disease.
Sadly, quick-fix detox is a big business and this multi-billion dollar industry takes advantage of the fact that their products are unregulated. Manufacturers try to lure us in with promises of renewed energy, glowing skin and healthier livers. The truth is that not only can’t they prove these miraculous results but some detox products even contain ingredients that could be harmful for your liver. This is especially worrying for people with viral hepatitis or liver disease.
Strict diets and juice fasts are also promoted as a way to detox but these won’t affect how quickly your body deals with toxins either. Depending on the diet you may feel better or worse, it’s anybody’s guess.
In contrast, looking after yourself properly has real benefits that can’t be matched by a mythical detox. Here are our top tips for feeling better this year.
Regularly eat good foods
Fresh fruit and vegetables, good carbohydrates, good fats, lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy (or substitutes) are all high on the list of foods that are good for you and make you feel good. While the occasional treat is good for your mood, living on a regular diet of junk-food is not. Our Eat Well For Your Liver resource has more information and recipes.
Get enough sleep
Our liver has a clock and needs a good block of sleep at night to perform some of its most important functions. Aim for 7-8 hours most nights. See our post on sleep for some tips if this is hard for you. See Working with your liver’s clock to learn more about your liver’s cycle.
Move as much as you can
We all have different capabilities but some form of exercise is beneficial for most people, most of the time. Low intensity, unfocussed exercise such as a stroll or roll around the park can really lift your mood. Regular, moderate exercise can improve fitness, wellbeing and quality of life. Think about what is possible and enjoyable for you and aim to do a bit more than you do now, building up over time.
Don’t drink too much
People with viral hepatitis or liver disease need to be especially careful about the amount of alcohol they drink. If you want to drink it’s best to discuss it with your doctor or specialist so you know what’s right for you. Drinking more than your liver can handle can make you feel bad now and damage your liver in the long term.
Give up smoking
Not only does smoking increase the risk of developing liver cancer for people with viral hepatitis, smoking makes you feel bad, mentally and physically. If you still smoke quitting can make a real difference to your health and how well you feel day to day. The Quitline can help – 13 78 48
Manage liver disease if any
Most importantly, if you have viral hepatitis or other liver disease, make sure you are getting the proper medical attention.
You can’t control all aspects of how viral hepatitis makes you feel but if you haven’t been getting the care you need, be sure to visit your doctor or contact the viral hepatitis nurses. People with hepatitis C can now be treated with an over 95% success rate and new hepatitis B treatments are managing the condition better than ever before. If you have hepatitis B or other liver diseases regular monitoring is vital to maintaining your health and helping you feel better.
Call our Helpline on 1800 437 222 for more information. Click here for a list of South Australian liver clinics.
Further reading on the detox myth