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Feeling a little lacklustre after the season of indulgence? It is probably because your body is trying to shake off the effects of too much sugar, caffeine, alcohol, overeating and under-exercising during the holidays.

“The liver is the chemical brain of the body, constantly recycling, regenerating and detoxifying in order to maintain your health. Sometimes, because of an overload in toxins, it simply cannot process fast enough and consequently toxins are stored in the body to be dealt with later, which is why you feel especially ‘under par’ after a period of excess,” explains Patrick.

Without resorting to an extravagant detox that is bound to leave you feeling starved and unable to focus for a few days, Patrick suggests giving your liver a good kick-start each year, simply by making and sticking to five new good habits, while committing to breaking five bad habits.

 Starting with the difficult part – to give your liver a good break you need to avoid:

  1. Wheat – our deadly bread. All wheat contains a protein called gluten which is exceedingly unfriendly to your digestive tract. So, give your gut a week’s break to allow the liver to focus on detoxifying other toxins. You can eat cereals, breads and pastas made from oats, amaranth, buckwheat, corn, grain, millet or quinoa.
  2. Avoid milk. It’s the most common food allergen and most people produce antibodies to it. In other words, it causes your immune system to react. It’s also mucous-forming. Give your system a week off milk and all dairy products.
  3. Caffeine – kick the habit. If the thought of giving up coffee causes a burst of hostility, then the chances are you are addicted to caffeine. Caffeine is a toxin that makes your liver work hard to detoxify it. If you can bear it, cut out caffeine for one week and replace it with green tea and Rooibos.
  4. Alcohol – give it a break. Putting aside any benefits that a glass of red wine may have for heart health, there is no denying that alcohol taxes both your liver and gut. The more alcohol you consume, the more antioxidants you need and the harder your liver has to work. Give it a complete break for a week or two.
  5. Stay away from bad fats. These are damaged fats called trans-fats, which these days are much in the news, for good reason. They are found in deep-fried foods and foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oils. To minimise your exposure to trans-fats, stay away from fried food and processed fat spreads and meat.

The five habits to make in 2018 are:

  1. Drink 8 glasses of water a day. After all, your body is 66% water and this alone will help you detoxify.
  2. Eat superfoods to spring-clean your system. The best foods include fresh apricots, cantaloupe, citrus fruits, kiwi, papayas, peaches, mangoes, melons, red grapes and all types of berries. Vegetables that are especially good for detoxification include artichokes, peppers, beets, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, red cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, kale, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, tomato, watercress, and bean and seed sprouts.
  3. Load up on anti-aging antioxidants. They are the key players in detoxifying your body. If you boost your intake, from both food and supplements, you’ll definitely notice the difference. The top antioxidant power foods include pomegranate, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, baby spinach, kale, broccoli, beetroot, avocado, red peppers, cherries and kiwi fruit.
  4. Take liver-detoxifying supplements. Look out for Patrick Holford’s AGE Antioxidant, a combination of Resveratrol, Co-Q10, Glutathione and Alpha Lipoic Acid as well as other vitamins and minerals to provide your body with those vital antioxidants. Available at Dis-Chem, independent pharmacies and health stores.
  5. Do detoxifying exercises every day. Exercise has a vital role to play in helping the body to get rid of toxins – especially at times of excess. Any whole-body exercise is good for detoxification – brisk walking, jogging, swimming, yoga or Pilates are all great for this. Holford recommends and practices Psychocalisthenics – a precise sequence of 23 exercises which combine body movement with chi-generating breathing.

He also advises a good massage to detoxify at every level by stimulating the circulation and lymphatic systems as the body stores chemical toxins, physical tension and negative emotions – all by-products of a busy festive season. So book yourself a massage in the name of health, drink your water, eat your superfoods, get a bit of exercise in and be sure of an energised and healthy start to 2018!