So here we are again...the start of another year. And every year, we hope it will be brighter, happier, full of adventures and fun.
It may be that you'd like to get fitter, loose some weight, achieve a specific challenge or finally getting around to fixing that DIY chore if only your back/knees/shoulder would ease up a little. Or just live your life as well as possible.
If that's the case, I have two pieces of advice:
1. Don't go on a diet.
If you're 'on' a diet, you can fall off it; if you start it, you're likely to stop it.
A diet suggests short-term action that, if it's achieved, will then stop. Diets aren't sustainable. Which is why at this time next year, you'll be here again, with the same weight-loss goal. You'll be one year older and nothing has changed.
2. Look after your liver.
Yes, your liver. Isn't that just about alcohol, I hear you say? Well, most of us will have had a tipple or two more than normal over the festive period, and we'll certainly have eaten more party-food, puddings, treats and ultra-processed foods too. And we may have been out to more parties and events, meaning more make-up, personal care and male grooming products, aftershave and perfume, hairspray and nail varnish. We're likely to have drunk less water, and possibly exercised less.
And our poor liver has to deal with all this.
Let's have a quick recap:
Everything you eat, drink, inhale, inject and rub on your skin goes through your liver. Twice. The first 'pass', enables the body to use these substances. The second pass is when the liver has to detoxify the waste from all these products and eliminates them, hopefully effectively, via your kidneys and bowel.
It has to process, utilise and then excrete waste from all medications and drugs, smoke, chemicals and colourants in foods and personal care products, pesticides/insecticides and other environmental pollutants.
On top of all this, the liver stores vitamins, makes energy, manufactures bile for fat digestion, regulates hormone balance and plays a key role in fighting infection.
So if you've loaded your liver this Christmas, it's likely to be be bogged down and running slow, less effective in detoxifying and eliminating wastes. You may be feeling sluggish, bloated, apathetic, run down, or have skin and/or digestive complaints as a result. Or if you're about to embark on a the next 'lose weight, feel great in eight days' diet, your liver will certainly complain if you don't support it: headaches, chills, extreme fatigue and diarrhoea.
To support your liver over the next couple of weeks (if not ongoing):
drink more water
gradually reduce caffeine and replace with water, herbal and fruit teas
limit/avoid alcohol and fruit squash/cordials (except pure Montmorency cherry)
include brightly coloured and cruciferous vegetables
eat good-quality, lean protein
sit less, move more
and drink more water!
And if you do the above, you're likely to eat less ultra-processed foods, drink less alcohol, have more energy, experience less digestive complaints, naturally stabilise or lose weight and experience less aches and pains. The liver won't be under so much stress, so will effectively eliminate the wastes and toxins, leading to less bloating, better hormone balance and reduced systemic inflammation.
And all this can lead to sustainable health.
Here's to a healthy 2024!