Detox is something everyone feels they need from time to time, especially after a period of excess or when you feel unfit, lethargic and require a health and energy boost. Detoxing is an ancient practice that is used in many forms of traditional medicine to balance health and prevent disease.
A US survey of 169 licensed naturopathic doctors found that 92% used detoxification therapies to treat patients, including the use of cleansing foods (91%), antioxidant or multivitamin supplements (85%), organic foods (85%), probiotics (83%), fibre supplements (79%) and herbs that stimulate bile flow (75%). Yet Detox plans gain a lot of negative press, with orthodox scientists claiming that detox diets do nothing to hasten the detox process.
As a medical doctor with a Master’s degree in Nutritional Medicine, I have to disagree. There is nothing wrong with cutting back on alcohol, selecting nutrient-dense, easily digested foods, and supporting your body’s natural elimination processes with evidence-based supplements. I do not recommend fad approaches and extreme fasting, however, as these create physiological stress, cause unpleasant side effects, and will leave you feeling worse rather than better. Follow my five step Detox Diet Plan below, and you will feel better, look better, sleep better and probably lose some excess weight, too.
- What is detox?
- Liver detox
- Benefits of detox
- How to detox
- Should you go organic?
- My 5 Step Detox Program
- Detox Step 1: Start cutting back
- Detox Step 2: Select your detox foods
- Antioxidant-rich foods for detox
- Artichoke for detox
- Avocado for detox
- Asparagus for detox
- Bean sprouts for detox
- Beetroot for detox
- Broccoli for detox
- Cabbage for detox
- Coriander/cilantro for detox
- Dandelion for detox
- Dark chocolate for detox
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fennel for detox
- Garlic for detox
- Ginger for detox
- Kale for detox
- Spinach for detox
- Vinegar for detox
- Example day’s eating on a detox plan
- Detox Step 3 – Select Cleansing Detox Supplements
- Detox Step 4 – Select Fortifying Detox Supplements
- Detox Step 5 – Adapt Your Detox Long-term
- Detox side effects
- Who should not detox?
What is detox?
Detox means abstaining from, or ridding the body of, toxic or unhealthy substances. Detox should be a pleasant, healthy process that can be maintained long-term, not an arduous regime of abstinence, fasts, coffee enemas, colonic irrigation or detox foot patches. Although these all have their proponents, I’m not one of them.
Detox supports your body’s natural elimination of toxins, which are essentially any agent that is capable of harming cells. Some toxins are generated outside the body, such as cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes, while others are generated inside the body as a result of normal microbial and human metabolism.
Common toxins which have harmful effects on health include alcohol, cigarette smoke, diesel fumes, heavy metals (eg lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium), phthalates and bisphenol A (found in food packaging). We are also exposed to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as dioxins, PCBs, PBBs and other chemicals found in flame retardants, pesticides, paint, ink, coolants and industrial lubricants which can accumulate in the body.
A 2012 report from the European Food Safety Authority confirmed that almost all foods contain detectable levels of POP toxins, especially fish, meat and dairy products, although levels are declining as countries restrict or ban their use.
Detox aims to support your own natural detox processes using dietary approaches and the sensible use of key herbal and nutritional supplements.
- Water-soluble toxins are mostly excreted via the urine and sweat.
- Volatile and gaseous toxins (eg carbon dioxide) are removed from the body via the lungs.
- Fat soluble toxins (eg heavy metals, some pesticides) are less easily removed. Most are first detoxified in the liver and joined onto other substances that make them water-soluble, or joined with glutathione and excreted via the bile into the intestines. Some fat-soluble toxins are also excreted via body oils produced in the skin. Fat-soluble toxins such as POPs can accumulate in fatty tissues and are only slowly broken down. Weight loss, which mobilises body fats, may aid this process.
The liver is the main detoxifying organ, and chemically alters toxins to make them less harmful, more water-soluble and easier to eliminate through your kidneys and via the bile and intestines.
The liver takes apart major toxins in a two-phase process. Often, the substances formed during the first phase are even nastier than the initial toxin and these so-called super-toxins must be neutralised quickly. When alcohol is detoxified, for example, the liver first converts it into the super-toxin, acetaldehyde, and then on to a safe substance, acetate, which cells can burn for energy. These super-toxins can build up if your liver is overloaded, or its stocks of detox materials, such as glutathione, are low. This contributes to the headache and nausea of an alcohol hangover, as the super-toxin, acetaldehyde, accumulates, and is concentrated by dehydration.
The first phase of detoxification in the liver uses enzymes which themselves generate harmful free radicals, so a good intake of antioxidants is vital to support normal detoxification. These detoxifying enzyme reactions also need good supplies of B vitamins and minerals such as sulphur and selenium to work properly.
Benefits of detox
Detox is especially helpful if you are under stress, feel fatigued, tired all the time, are prone to recurrent infections, or experience allergies, stress headaches, poor concentration, dry itchy skin or increased mucus production. Detox brings a number of desirable benefits, including improved health and immunity, mental clarity, extra energy and vitality.
Your skin will become clearer, your bowels more regular and your liver and kidney function will improve. If you follow a healthy detox diet and lifestyle long-term, then your risk of inflammatory conditions, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer will also be reduced. Essentially, a long-term detox resembles healthy ways of eating such as the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets.
How to detox
A successful detox is a gentle, healthy diet and lifestyle approach which you can continue long-term. During a detox you avoid caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, food additives and limit your intake of salt (sodium chloride) and sugar.
Although regimes vary, during a classic Detox, you Cleanse first and Fortify second. This is similar in rationale to servicing a car – you wouldn’t add new oil until the old, dirty oil (the toxins) has first been drained away. However, there is no real scientific rationale for this, and fortifying supplements can be started straight away, alongside the cleansing supplements, if you prefer.
Cleansing supplements include antioxidants, supplements to support liver cleansing (eg milk thistle, artichoke), supplements to support urinary cleansing (eg dandelion, cranberry), and supplements to support intestinal cleansing (eg prebiotics, probiotics, psyllium, Aloe vera).
Fortifying supplements provide nutritional support and include a multivitamin and mineral supplement, essential fatty acids (eg evening primrose, flaxseed oil, omega-3 fish oils) plus an adaptogenic herb to help your body adapt to the Detox process (eg Panax ginseng, Siberian ginseng or Ashwagandha).
Foods are mainly plant-based and, ideally, grown organically.
Should you go organic?
Ideally, yes. Selecting organic foods will significantly reduce your intake of agricultural chemicals, although you can follow a detox without buying organic foods if necessary.
A healthy diet should normally include at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish. While following a detox, you can still eat fish but those labelled as organic are preferable. Bear in mind that official guidelines limit your intake of oily fish due to concerns about deep-sea pollutants (toxins such as mercury, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls) and their potential adverse effects on future pregnancies. While men, boys and women past their fertile years can have up to four portions of oily fish per week, girls and fertile women should have no more than 2 portions of oily fish per week. When following a short-term detox, you may wish to avoid oily fish altogether.
White fish that may contain similar levels of certain pollutants as oily fish include sea bream, sea bass, turbot, halibut and rock salmon (also known as dogfish or huss) which you may want to avoid during a detox, too. Also avoid deep-sea fish (shark, swordfish and marlin) and brown crab meat which contain more mercury than other fish. Do not have or more than four cans of tuna (140g drained weight each) per week because of its mercury content.
The good news is that omega-3 fish oil supplements are distilled and screened to remove toxins.
My 5 Step Detox Program
The following 5 step detox regime can be followed for as long as you wish – whether that’s 10 days to recover from a socially hectic time, or long-term if you want to lose weight healthily and safely.
Detox Step 1: Start cutting back
If you normally have a high caffeine intake (more than 3 caffeinated drinks per day) it is a good idea to gradually cut back on caffeine-containing drinks for at least a week before starting a Detox so you do not experience withdrawal symptoms such as headache, jitteriness and irritability.
Also start cutting back on processed foods, table salt (sodium chloride), artificial sweeteners, food additives, alcohol and sugar. Check labels and select foods that are as healthy as possible. Add herbs and spices such as freshly-ground black pepper, ginger, turmeric or chili to make up for not adding salt to food. Fresh lime juice increases your sensitivity to salt and can make foods taste less bland.
Start drinking more water and/or herbal teas. When you feel ready to start the full detox (which may be straight away if you drink little caffeine) move on to Detox Step 2.
Detox Step 2: Select your detox foods
During a detox, you eat a restricted selection of healthy and nutritious foods. You can eat as much or as little of these foods as you like, and do not necessarily need to lose weight. In practice, however, most people aim to halve their usual calorie intake to help boost the Detox process and to lose a few excess pounds.
A detox diet typically involves eating or drinking nothing but:
- Fresh and dried fruit (eg apples, avocado, berries, dates, figs, citrus, mango, pomegranate, tomato)
- Freshly squeezed fruit juices and smoothies (but avoid grapefruit juice which slows the action of liver first phase detox enzymes)
- Raw vegetables (eg bean sprouts, broccoli, spring greens, pak choi, cauliflower, mangetout, carrots, red cabbage, courgette/zucchini)
- Steamed vegetables (eg artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, squash, aubergine/eggplant, courgette/zucchini, string beans)
- Root vegetables (eg beetroot, Jerusalem artichoke, fennel, sweet potato, carrot, parsnip)
- Freshly prepared vegetable juices
- Vegetable soups (preferably home-made)
- Cooked pulses (eg lentils, mixed beans, haricot beans, blackeye peas, chickpeas, fava/broad beans)
- Cereals/grains (eg oatmeal, brown rice, red rice, wild rice, quinoa, Bulgur wheat)
- Nuts and seeds (eg almonds, pistachios, macadamia nuts, chia seeds, flax seed, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds)
- Fresh herbs (eg coriander/cilantro, rosemary, basil, sage, parsley, thyme, oregano)
- Spices (eg turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cinnamon)
- Plain cottage cheese
- Unsweetened live yoghurt
Most detoxes are plant-based regimes, but you can eat a little fish and chicken (ideally organic) if you wish – even occasional red meat if following a detox long-term.
Drink sufficient fluids in the form of water (mineral, filtered or tap water left to stand for an hour in the fridge so chlorine evaporates off), uncaffeinated herbal teas and unsweetened coconut water. Aim to drink 2 to 3 litres fluid per day.
The following foods have good evidence for their detoxing properties and are good to include in your detox eating plan. While much of the research derives from preclinical studies involving cell cultures and animal models, some foods have been shown to improve liver function in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which can be associated with toxic damage.
Good food sources of glutathione, which the liver needs to detoxify fat-soluble toxins include apples, asparagus, avocado, bananas, beetroot, broccoli, carrots, garlic, melons, onion, oranges, peaches, peppers, spinach, squash and tomatoes.
Antioxidant-rich foods for detox
Dietary antioxidants protect against free radicals produced during cell detoxification reactions. Detox diets include high intakes of fruit and vegetables which will boost your intakes. High levels of dietary antioxidants are found in the following popular detox foods:
Average serving size (grams)
Antioxidant score* per average serving
|Red kidney beans||92g||13,259|
|Red Delicious apple||138g||5,900|
|Golden Delicious apple||138g||3,685|
|Pears (green varieties)||166g||3,172|
|Pears (Red Anjou)||166g||2,943|
|Red cabbage (cooked)||75g||2,359|
|Red leaf lettuce||68g||1,213|
|Sweet potatoes (cooked)||156g||1,195|
*ORAC score = micromol of TE.
Artichoke for detox
Both globe and Jerusalem artichokes are great foods for detoxing. Globe artichokes are a traditional herbal medicine for liver health, and have been shown to reduce fatty infiltration of the liver.
Artichoke extracts lower cholesterol levels and promote secretion of bile, through which fat-soluble toxins are eliminated via the bowel. Artichoke extracts may even help damaged liver cells regenerate in people with fatty liver disease, although this is still under investigation.
Globe artichokes are highly antioxidant and contain inulin, a prebiotic fibre that stimulates the growth of ‘friendly’ probiotic bacteria in the bowel, especially Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus paracasei which are important for digestive health.
Jerusalem artichokes are another rich source of the prebiotic fibre, inulin, which promotes a healthy balance of digestive bacteria. Jerusalem artichoke also has beneficial effects on the liver, switching on genes that reduce inflammation, improve fatty acid metabolism and glucose control to improve fatty liver disease.
Avocado for detox
Avocado is a rich source of beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants, including carotenoids, vitamin E and glutathione. Glutathione is the main antioxidant used by the liver to protect itself from super-toxins, and avocado provides glutathione levels that are several fold higher than that of other fruits.
Asparagus for detox
Asparagus is a mild diuretic and is a source of glutathione. Asparagus extracts have a detoxifying and antioxidant effects on liver cells, and in cell culture studies reduced the toxic effects of alcohol by stimulating the production of liver cell enzymes (eg alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase) by at least two-fold.
Bean sprouts for detox
Fresh bean sprouts are brimming with phytonutrients and antioxidant polyphenols. Mung bean sprouts have beneficial anticancer effects in liver cell cultures through effects on gene regulation that involve detox genes. Bean sprout extracts may also improve fatty liver disease. Sprout your own pulses and seeds to add to salads, soups and rice dishes. Soak them in water overnight, then place in a sprouting jar or rack and leaving for 2-3 days. Rinse twice a day with fresh cold water.
Beetroot for detox
Beetroot boosts circulation, improves liver function and protects liver cells from toxins. As well as providing glutathione, beetroot contains betaine which can improve liver function and improve fatty liver disease. Beetroot betanin has also been found to protect liver cells against toxins by increasing the activity of phase two liver detoxifying enzymes.
Broccoli for detox
Broccoli is packed with antioxidant phytonutrients, such as sulforaphane and glucoraphin, which improve liver function. Sulforaphane levels are especially high in broccoli sprouts, and can improve liver enzyme levels in fatty liver disease. When 291 people exposed to airborne pollution drank a daily broccoli sprout beverage or placebo, for 12 weeks, the urinary excretion of pollutants rapidly increased by 61% for glutathione-derived conjugates of benzene and 23% for glutathione-derived conjugates of acrolein, confirming its detoxification benefits.
Cabbage for detox
Cabbage provides antioxidant isothiocyanates and anthocyanins with powerful detoxifying and anticancer actions. Red cabbage is a particularly good source of antioxidants and has beneficial effects on liver enzymes, reducing inflammation and the damaging effects of toxins. Cabbage also reduces toxic inflammation and oxidative stress in the gut.
Coriander/cilantro for detox
Coriander leaves are traditionally used to remove heavy metals from the body. Coriander has been shown to reduce cadmium accumulation in rainbow trout livers by up to 48% and to decrease bone lead concentrations in mice by 22% compared to controls.
Dandelion for detox
If dandelions grow in your garden, pick the young leaves to add to salads. Dandelion is a traditional detox supplement that supports liver function and has a mild diuretic effect to support the kidneys. Dandelion leaves can also improve fatty liver changes, reduced liver inflammation and significantly improve liver function tests.
Dark chocolate for detox
During detox you can treat yourself to some dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids) and high flavanol cocoa powder (but don’t add sugar). Daily chocolate consumption has beneficial effects on liver function and liver enzymes. Cocoa flavonoids activate survival signalling proteins in liver cells, and increase the activities of two liver detox enzymes, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase. Dark chocolate can even improve blood flow to the liver in people with liver cirrhosis.
Extra virgin olive oil
Use extra virgin olive oil (cold-extracted) for cooking and dressings during detox as it is a rich source of beneficial monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. Extra virgin olive oil stimulates the production of bile and pancreatic secretions, and helps to protect liver cells from toxins. Extra virgin olive oil can even reduce liver fibrosis by stimulating the production of protective liver proteins and detoxification enzymes.
Fennel for detox
Fennel is a root vegetable with an aniseed flavour. It is traditionally used as a diuretic and to absorb toxic substances from the bowel. Fennel seed is also used as a spice and as a traditional medicine to improve liver function. Compounds isolated from fennel seed can protect liver cells from the adverse effects of toxins with researchers stating that fennel seeds have ‘remarkable anticancer potential’ against liver cancer cells.
Garlic for detox
Garlic – especially aged or black garlic – is a powerful antioxidant that adds flavour to food, stimulates blood flow, aids digestion and has anti-inflammatory actions. Garlic improves liver function in chronic hepatitis, and is used in Chinese medicine to treat and slow the progression of fatty liver disease. Garlic helps to neutralise some of the super-toxins produced during liver detoxification metabolism, inhibits their toxicity and reduces liver cell damage.
Ginger for detox
Ginger is a traditional herbal medicines used to stimulate digestion, boost circulation and sweating and treat nausea. Ginger extracts support liver detoxification and has been used to prevent liver cell toxicity associated with medically prescribed drugs. Ginger also protects liver cells from super toxins known to cause liver inflammation and fibrosis. Ginger also has beneficial effects against fatty liver disease.
Kale for detox
Kale is rich in antioxidants, sterols and fibre. Both green and red kale strongly bind to bile acids in the bowel, to prevent their reabsorption and aid their excretion. This effect promotes the removal of fat-soluble toxins via the bowel, and lowers cholesterol levels. Bile acid binding is best when kale is minimally processed (microwaved 3 min or steamed 8 min). Kale also reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the gut.
Spinach for detox
Spinach is a rich source of liver-protective flavonoid antioxidants and research suggests those with the highest intakes of flavonoids from spinach may have the lowest risk of liver cancer. The youngest spinach leaves have the highest antioxidant content, so buy fresh, baby spinach leaves if you can. Add a handful of spinach leaves when making juices and smoothies – you won’t taste them and it’s a great way to increase the nutritional value.
Vinegar for detox
Apple cider vinegar is a traditional digestive aid, used during detox to bind toxins and help flush them from the body. Apple cider vinegar delays stomach emptying which helps you feel full and suppresses appetite when cutting back on food intake.
Example day’s eating on a detox plan
Breakfast: Bircher muesli (made the night before) topped with fresh berries (eg blueberries, raspberries, strawberries) and unsweetened Bio yogurt. Click for RECIPE
A glass of freshly-squeezed fruit juice or herbal tea.
Mid-morning: Fruit (eg apple, banana, grapes, mango, melon, orange, papaya pear, pineapple)
Lunch: Large mixed salad with nuts, seeds, quinoa, kale, pomegranate, grilled artichoke plus a different protein source each day (eg cottage cheese, poached salmon, humus, mixed bean & lentil salad),
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Crispy Sage Leaves. Click for RECIPE (omit the salt)
Unsweetened Bio yogurt.
A glass of freshly-squeezed juice: eg carrot and apple.
Mid-afternoon: Raw vegetable crudités with Aubergine And Coriander/cilantro Dip. Click for RECIPE
Dinner: Ratatouille with steamed green vegetables (eg broccoli, green beans, spinach, asparagus, curly kale). Click for RECIPE
Evening: Handful of mixed nuts and seeds.
Drink at least 3 litres of mineral water, fruit juice or herbal teas per day.
Go to bed early to rest and rejuvenate.
No caffeinated drinks or alcohol!
Detox Step 3 – Select Cleansing Detox Supplements
Select the cleansing supplements you will take throughout your detox.
Antioxidants: Diet should always come first, and high intakes of fruit and vegetables can supply all the boosted level of antioxidants you need. Some regimes suggest taking additional antioxidant supplements such as pine bark extracts (Pycnogenol), grapeseed extracts or alpha-lipoic acid, but this is not essential.
Artichoke: Artichoke extracts are so good for liver detox that they are used to treat fatty liver disease. Artichoke extracts stimulate liver metabolism and flush excess fat, cholesterol and toxins from the liver via the bile. Taking 320mg artichoke extracts per day boosts the production and secretion of bile (in the liver by over 127 per cent after 30 minutes, 151 per cent after 60 minutes and by 94 per cent after 90 minutes. This promotes the elimination of toxins via the gut, aids digestion and relieves symptoms of indigestion and bloating. If you only want to take one supplement during Detox, I strongly recommend you take globe artichoke extracts.
Milk thistle: Milk thistle seed extracts contain a mixture of antioxidants, known as silymarin, which increase liver concentrations of glutathione, superoxide dismutase and boost the activity of peroxidase enzymes to promote detox reactions. Milk thistle also stimulates protein production to promote liver cell regeneration and reduce the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis) and cirrhosis.
Milk thistle and artichoke extracts can be taken together for their synergistic effects on the liver.
Dandelion: Dandelion extracts are used to promote a steady elimination of toxins through a variety of routes. Dandelion leaves have a diuretic action and are a good source of potassium to help flush excess sodium and water-soluble toxins through the kidneys. Dandelion roots are also used to support liver and kidney detox, and for their gentle laxative action to promote elimination of toxins through the bowels. Latest research suggests dandelion root polysaccharides can protect liver cells and kidney cells from toxic damage.
Probiotics: Live Bio yoghurt and probiotic supplements contain friendly digestive bacteria that help to detoxify the gut by lowering intestinal pH, secreted natural antibiotics and discouraging the presence of less acid-tolerant, harmful bacteria and yeasts. They reduce the formation of bacterial toxins in the gut by inhibiting the enzymes necessary to produce them.
Levels of live bacteria in bio yogurt vary widely and I recommend taking a probiotic supplement as part of your Detox program, in addition to eating live Bio yoghurt. Select a supplement supplying at least 5 billion colony forming units (CFU) per dose.
Aloe vera: Aloe vera gel contains soapy substances (saponins) that cleanse the bowel and pulpy microfibres (lignins) that absorb toxins. It also has anti-inflammatory actions.
Some Aloe vera products contain the bitter aloe ‘latex’ extracted from the inner yellow leaves of the plant which has a brisk, laxative effect. If you do not want this effect, select a product that is aloin and emodin free. Start with a small dose (eg one teaspoon) and work up to around 1 – 2 tablespoons per day to find the dose that suits you best.
Psyllium: During detox your fibre intake naturally increases due to the fruit and vegetables you are eating. If you need extra fibre for bowel regularity, the most effective source for detox is the seeds and husks of Plantago psyllium which is widely used to absorb toxins from the bowel. Psyllium seed contains mucilage which swells to between and 8 and 14 times its original volume when mixed with water. In the intestines, psyllium forms a laxative bulk that gently cleanses the bowel and absorbs toxins and excess fats.
Activated charcoal: Activated charcoal is formed by heating regular charcoal with a gas which increases its surface area. This acts rather like a sponge to absorb toxins within the gut, and has been used medically to treat severe poisoning. Activated charcoal tablets are available which absorb intestinal gas to relieve flatulence and odours, and can improve symptoms of bloating and abdominal cramps associated with excess ‘wind’.
Silicol gel: Silicol gel (silicic acid) has a similar effect to activated charcoal but is much more pleasant to take. Silicol gel lines the stomach, absorbs toxins and irritants and protects against acid indigestion and heart burn due to acid reflux. Silicol gel binds heavy metals such as aluminium to boost their elimination from the gut.
Enterosgel: Enterosgel contains an organic mineral with a unique, porous surface, plus purified water. The pore size selectively attracts and bind harmful particles on its surface, without removing beneficial substances such as water or vitamins. It binds environmental and dietary toxins, allergens, viruses, and bacterial toxins in the bowel, trapping them until they are safely eliminated from the body within 12 to 24 hours. It is widely taken to treat diarrhoea-predominate irritable bowel syndrome but is ideal for detoxing the gut, too. In people undergoing cancer therapy, for example. Enterosgel can reduce some of the side effects associated with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Enterosgel is available as an oral suspension in a tube (90g and 225g sizes) or in sachets (15g dose, ten sachets).
Detox Step 4 – Select Fortifying Detox Supplements
Fortifying, nutritional supplements that are traditionally, added in after a few days of cleansing (eg from day 6 of a 10 day cleanse), but you can start them at the beginning of your detox if you wish. Fortifying detox supplements include:
- An A-Z multivitamin and mineral supplement
- Essential fatty acids (eg evening primrose oil, flax seed oil, omega-3 fish oils)
- An adaptogenic herb to help your body adapt to the Detox process (eg Panax ginseng, Siberian ginseng or Ashwagandha).
Detox Step 5 – Adapt Your Detox Long-term
A typical detox program in which you follow a restricted diet is traditionally followed for 10 days. After this time, you slowly re-introduce favourite foods (eg eggs, dairy, an occasional steak) and drinks (eg black or green tea) while continuing to eating a super-healthy diet providing plenty of nutrient-dense fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses, whole grains, herbs, spices, plus some dairy, lean meat or other protein sources.
Maintain continued benefits by keeping to a diet that is as organic, unprocessed and free from additives as possible with very little sugar, salt, caffeine or alcohol. Sweetness can be obtained by eating more fresh and dried fruits or organic honey.
Detox side effects
While most people benefit from Detox, it is not always plain sailing, especially if you make changes that are too drastic, or too rapid. Withdrawal from caffeine can cause headache and irritability, for example, while fasting can cause constipation, an outbreak of acne-like pimples, bad breath and a coated tongue.
If you experience side effects from Detox then you are doing it wrong and subjecting your body to physical stresses and, potentially, a flood of toxins that it cannot process in a timely manner. Rather than going on a fast, it is easier and more pleasant to take things slowly and eat a simple plant-based diet, drink mineral water plus a selection of juices and herbal teas.
Who should not detox?
Do not follow a detox programme if you are:
- Unwell or convalescing
- Receiving treatment for any medical condition (unless your doctor agrees that you are fit enough to follow a detox program).
If you are taken any prescribed medicines, check with a pharmacist before taking any supplements in case of interactions.
Based on The Total Detox Plan by Dr Sarah Brewer (Carlton)
Image credits: marilyna/bigstock;Pixabay;