DETOXING can mean far more than banning booze and guzzling oddly-coloured juices. Sam Wylie-Harris rounds up seven less obvious ways to aid that New Year cleanse
Lots of us feel that desperate urge to press ‘restart’ on our systems at this time of year, give our bodies a bit of a break after weeks of over-indulgence, and kick-start some healthier habits that’ll hopefully soon have us feeling lighter and brighter.
That’s why detox plans are so popular in January. While health experts warn that embarking on an extreme plan (liquids only for five days? No thanks!) might do you more harm than good, it’s easy to see the appeal of wanting a bit of a cleanse.
According to research by Alcohol Concern, more than two million of us are planning to abstain from drinking alcohol this month, and no doubt many more will vow off sweets and chocolate, and Instagram feeds will fill up with snaps of people sipping superfood smoothies.
But the detox options don’t end there. Here are seven slightly more unusual steps to cleansing from the inside out...
1. The sting
It’s believed that stinging nettles can help treat a wide variety of health conditions, and drinking stinging nettle tea or tucking into a bowl of stinging nettle soup can help the body expel toxins. A natural diuretic, when boiled, the prickly leaves can help eliminate impurities, flush out excess toxins, improve circulation and support the digestive system.
2. Book a massage
There’s no doubt that indulging in a massage is one of life’s little luxuries. But as well as being relaxing and working wonders for the skin, a good massage can offer a lot of detoxing benefits too. Try booking an intense treatment such as a sports massage, which focuses on the pressure points, and your therapist will be helping to gently pummel toxins from the body, as well as working your tissues.
3. Breathe deeply
It’s not difficult to breathe in deeply. Filling your lungs with air and allowing the oxygen to circulate through your system will help the body’s cleansing and detoxifying systems work to full capacity. Also, as a useful bonus, learning to slow down and practise deep-breathing works wonders for those stress and anxiety levels.
4. Top tablet
Available in health stores, taking activated charcoal tablets as a detoxifying treatment is said to help relieve digestive issues, gas and bloating. By working as an antidote, charcoal absorbs toxins, chemicals and poisons and helps rid the body of unwanted substances before they can harm you.
5. Sweat it out
Exercising so you build up a sweat will not only help you lose a few pounds, but will also get rid of toxins. And the good news is, you don’t need to be a gym bunny - you can still get that glow by simply going for a fast walk, running up and down the stairs, or just sitting in a sauna! Even a skipping rope will help you work up a sweat, cleanse the body and help with digestion and circulation.
6. Needle me
Acupuncture is one of the best forms of cleansing, and all you have to do is lie down and relax. It works by having small needles placed in the surface of the skin where energy flows may be blocked, causing pain or discomfort, or health niggles elsewhere in the body. A great excuse to put your feet up after all the festive entertaining.
7. Sock it to me
It may sound a little out there, but some people swear by the power of detox foot pads - which you place at the bottom of your socks before going to bed, to wake in the morning reaping the benefits. The pads draw toxins out of the body while you sleep, taking on a darker colour to demonstrate they’ve worked. Try searching on Amazon or eBay if you fancy trying them out.