The term, health and fitness is often used in unison and those two words sit well together. However, how many of us place equal importance on both? Aside from ensuring personal fitness – hitting the gym, attending group fitness classes, training with a PT, long walks, yoga etc., is it time to take individual wellness into our own hands? Rather than waiting to get sick, shouldn’t we be focussing on prevention? As well as being extremely passionate about the fitness industry, REPs director, Catherine Hanson-Farid is equally passionate about her family’s wellbeing as well as her own. Find out what she believes are the foundations of holistic health.

Chemical Warfare

Now more than ever, we must take responsibility for personal vitality, educating ourselves to become the strongest expressions of ourselves. This journey isn’t easy. Nowadays, the toxic loads of chemicals released into the environment are overwhelming. From the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the products we use – like personal care and cleaning products – our bodies are struggling to keep up. Can you believe 100,000 new chemicals are being pumped into the environment annually?

Since 1940, over 75,000 synthetic toxins have been released into the environment. They are in the food chain as well as in us, contaminating every bio organism on earth. Alarmingly, babies are born toxic due to the toxic load of their mothers. Mother’s breast milk, even though good for babies, carries substantial amounts of toxins. One study by the Environmental Working Group in the US found that blood samples from new-borns contained an average of 287 toxins, including mercury, fire retardants, pesticide and Teflon chemicals. This poison onslaught is incessant and incremental. It seems impossible to avoid and most people choose to turn a blind eye. So, what do we do?


While this has been a buzzword for a while now, the term is often misused. Detoxification is not a three-to-seven-day juice fast, or some other fad. It is the systematic process of removing toxic substances from your body, which takes time. Cleaning up your diet for a few days, only to return to our old ways the minute it’s over will not rid us of all of the unwanted toxins. It isn’t that easy. Detoxification is a vital process to be carried out continually. For me, it’s a way of life.

Steps To Success

Catherine Hanson-Farid, Director of Operations, REPs UAE

I start by optimising the body’s own built-in detoxification system, which helps eliminate toxins the body encounters from other sources. Although most of the metabolic detoxification process occurs in the gateway to the body – the liver – other organs like the skin, gallbladder, colon, intestines, kidneys and lungs also play a role. If internal organs are over-burdened then they are not able to do the detoxification job effectively, so lending a helping hand makes sense.

Looking at what we consume daily, and either cutting out or cutting down on these foods (dairy, gluten and sugar seem to be the most ‘troublesome’ categories), and adding detoxifying supplements is a good start. Did you know that just one bag of NutraSweet/Aspartame contains 10,000 chemicals? Is that not enough to convince you to throw away the artificial sweeteners and replace it with something natural? This is one of the ingredients I avoid when selecting a protein powder for instance. I always read labels, and opt for a supplement, which has the least ingredients, and anything that I can’t understand. Another example is tuna – so many fitness enthusiasts eat far too much of it – something I was once guilty of myself. When I completed a mineral test through hair sampling, the results showed that my mercury levels were on the higher side. This is when I went from eating tuna almost daily to enjoying it only occasionally. That, combined with the removal of my amalgam fillings, reduced my mercury levels. Are these little things not a form of detoxification? I believe they are. Putting fewer burdens on the body by reducing our toxic load wherever we can, and combining all aspects of health-generating modalities like nutrient-dense nutrition, supplementation, water, exercise, meditation (one I have yet to master), and laughter are my tools to optimal vitality.

Detox Shopping List


This is found in green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, bell peppers, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, collard greens, green beans, green peas, kale, leeks, green olives, parsley, romaine lettuce. Opt for organic vegetables and do not overcook them, as tests prove chlorophyll is removed after boiling. When you see vegetables lose their colour, it means the chlorophyll is being washed away. With mild steaming or eating raw, chlorophyll is preserved. You can also take chlorella tablets as they are a great binder for heavy metals.

Chia Seeds

Full of amazing benefits aside from detoxifying, Chia seeds are also a complete protein, high in anti-oxidants, the richest plant source of Omega 3 oil, abundant in vitamins and minerals and can be added to anything as they have no taste. I add them to my daily protein shake.

Aloe Vera

Choose an organic source from the plant, juice, gel or capsule. Other benefits include: aiding with digestion and elimination, a boost to the immune system, and reduced inflammation in weakened or aged joints.

Parsley And Cilantro

Parsley cleanses blood supply and freshens breath, while cilantro binds with heavy metals.

Fermented and fibre-rich foods

From sauerkraut or kimchi, the fermentation process boosts the nutritional content of food, producing essential short-chained fatty acids, beneficial enzymes that optimise gut flora that weakens with age. I sprinkle sauerkraut onto my salad instead of using salt to add a pungent, yet healthy kick..

Flax seeds (ground)

Keep the intestines moving. Elimination is critical to detoxification.

My Detox Tips

  • Have as much organic produce and free range foods as possible.
  • Avoid processed foods, including processed meats, like sausages and cold cuts as they are processed with chemicals.
  • Use only natural cleaning products at home. They are available at organic food stores, at most supermarkets, and online.
  • Switch to natural brands of toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, deodorants, sanitary products and cosmetics. It is a trial and error to find the non-toxic products you like, but it’s worth making the effort.
  • Have a qualified biological dentist remove any metal fillings you might have. Although any dentist is qualified to replace your amalgam fillings, they do not do it in such a way as to minimise your mercury exposure. Dr. Manaf Taher Agha is a holistic dentist based in Dubai.
  • Avoid artificial food additives of all kinds, including artificial sweeteners, MSG, and food colouring. Say NO to diet sodas.
  • Limit your use of prescription and over-the-counter-drugs as much as possible. Drugs are chemicals too, and they will leave residue and accumulate in your body over time.
  • Reduce the amount of canned food you consume. A survey by a food watchdog in the UK has shown that trace amounts of Bisphenol A (BPA) can be found in many canned foods. BPA is a chemical compound of resins used to coat some cans, which can then migrate into the food.
  • Avoid Teflon cookware. Teflon used to create non-stick surfaces can release noxious gases when exposed to high temperatures. Use stainless steel or ceramic cookware instead. To prevent sticking of food, use healthy oils to cook with, such as organic coconut oil.
  • Never microwave food. But if you must, always avoid using plastic containers. Exposure to heat causes the bisphenol-A (BPA) found in plastics to break down and potentially contaminate your food.