It’s detox season again, but what works and what doesn’t ? There are several proven ways to achieve the greatest gain with the least pain.
Although taking a “dry Jan & Feb” is now a regular fixture for many drinkers, evidence for its long-term benefits has been thin on the ground. Some hints come from New Scientist magazine, which recently undertook its own experiment to find out if there was any truth in the hype. Teaming up with Rajiv Jalan at University College London Medical School, 10 of the magazine’s journalists abstained for a month. All 10 showed a 15% reduction in liver fat – a cause of liver disease – as well as reduced cholesterol and blood glucose.
For Beyonce, it’s a diet of tree syrup, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice. For others, it’s quinoa, dandelion root tea, blueberries and algae. Such superfoods are claimed by proponents to flush out damaging chemicals in the body, leaving you with better skin, better hair and a trimmer waste. In reality, scientific studies are have yet to show convincingly that any of these detox diets can remove pollutants in the human body, according to a comprehensive review published last month. Even the case for anti-oxidants, which were long thought to prevent cancer, is now in doubt. If you are looking to lose weight and live a longer and healthier life, a balanced and moderate diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fish and unprocessed carbohydrates is still the safest option.
While body-building may seem like the domain of gym bunnies only,pumping weights should be part of everyone’s exercise regime, since healthier muscle tissue can help reduce problems like insulin resistance that lead to diabetes and heart disease. That is true whatever your current weight; obese people who do strength training have the same risk of heart disease as those of a healthier build. Strength training also lowers blood pressure, and it is thought to be particularly beneficial to the elderly, who lose muscle mass more rapidly. Mixing aerobic and resistance training is now considered the most efficient way to control your weight and protect your heart.
Even if you regularly exercise, don’t let your post-workout buzz lull you into complacency: one study found that more than half of the female participants who worked out actually put on weight, perhaps because they felt that they were then licensed to be less active later on. The fact is that regular exercise, although good for you, can’t counteract the damage of sedentary activity in the rest of your life. Sitting for long periods – as opposed to pottering around the garden, say – allows the build-up of glucose and fat in the blood, along with spikes in insulin – all of which can contribute to long term problems with the body’s metabolism.
Psychologists are finding that feelings of guilt can have an ironic impact on our behavior, leading to further temptation and scuppering our broader goals, while enjoying the occasional indulgence can help recharge your self-control. So amid all your virtuous intentions, make sure you leave room for a little bit of vice, too.