Detoxes often aim to eliminate specific items from your diet, including coffee, refined sugar or alcohol. While it's a complicated biological process, detoxification begins with your liver. Your body has the ability to naturally detoxify, without expensive supplements or practices - you just need to help it along the way. Your liver, kidneys, lungs, and gut will play a big role in the detoxification process.
You don't need to make extreme changes for your body to cleanse. There are a number of science-based detox methods that will help you to feel more energetic, improve digestion, or lose weight.
Before you start a detox
- First thing's first, let's cut out the usual suspects - alcohol, coffee and sugar. While okay in moderation, these are definitely things to avoid when you're trying to detoxify. This will pop up in every detox plan, so we thought to mention that ahead of time.
- Make it easier for yourself by planning ahead and clearing out 7 days on your calendar in which there are no major events where you may be inclined to indulge.
- Be aware of the symptoms to expect from a detox. Suddenly depriving your body of things that it's used to will naturally cause a reaction where it will try to balance this out and stimulate detoxifying organs. These symptoms should alleviate in 24-48 hours.
- Consult with your doctor before making any major changes to your diet. If you are already experiencing health issues, make sure you seek professional advice.
Check out our guide to the top 3 natural detox plans you need to try.
The mind-body cleanse
This is a naturopath-approved holistic detox plan to recharge your mind, body and soul. We know that it's hard to follow an exact diet that is scheduled for each day. We don't know your financial situation, time constraints, or other matters that may affect your health plan. Instead, this detox plan gives you the tools to help you holistically detoxify and start feeling refreshed after one week. However, we recommend that you continue these habits as much as possible after the 7-day cleanse.
- Drink lemon or juice every morning. This has a number of detoxifying benefits, and is a perfect way to kickstart your day. It promotes hydration, is a strong source of vitamin C (a key antioxidant), and helps cleanse through better digestion.
- Exercise each day. One hour of exercise a day does wonders for your overall health. This means exercise that makes you puff and sweat, as it's this challenging exercise that increases lymph flow and circulation to help sweat out toxins. Exercising in the morning sets the tone for a healthier day - in fact studies have shown that those who exercise in the morning are more prone to make healthier choices during the day.
- Eat raw foods. Avoid any processed foods, and stick to raw vegetables and fruits. Try to decrease the cooking process as much as possible, as the most vitamins and minerals are held in their raw state. This can increase your energy and improve digestion, helping with the detoxification process.
- Drink three litres of liquid each day. Hydration helps to move the lymph and support kidney detoxification. While water should be the main source of hydration, you can also drink fresh vegetable juice or herbal tea. Peppermint, ginger, green, chamomile and licorice root are all teas with detoxifying properties, and aid digestion. For juice, we love celery. The salts in celery juice may increase and strengthen our livers' ability to produce bile, which is important for breaking down fats and eliminating wastes from our bodies.
- Exfoliate. This one might be unexpected in a detox plan, but brushing your skin will support circulation and increase skin detoxification. Using a loofah or natural body brush, brush your skin with firm circular strokes before you step into the shower. Start from the feet and hands, moving up the legs and towards the arms, avoiding the delicate area of throat and face, and any rash or sore spots. You can use a gentle exfoliating cream/gel for your face and neck, but this should only be 1-2 times a week. Finish your shower with a one-minute burst of cold water which brings the blood circulation to the skin.
- Meditate every day. In the morning, or whenever you have time, take a moment to practice mindfulness. While your body is detoxing, it is important to clear your mind as well. Naturopaths always provide a holistic view of health, incorporating mind and body. If you don't know how to meditate, try belly breathing. Start by placing hands palm down on your lower belly. Breathe in through your nose, counting slowly to 3 or 4 counts. Feel your tummy rise with the breath. Breathe out just as slowly, allowing the belly to drop. Then, start to notice the air coming in through your mouth, and out through your nose. Try this for 15 minutes each day, and don't be hard on yourself if you find it difficult at first.
- Chew mindfully. Try to chew each mouthful 10 times before swallowing. Bringing mindfulness to eating not only improves digestion, but also allowing you to feel a sense of fullness without a need to overeat.
After a week, you'll notice your mind and body feeling clearer and lighter. We encourage you to make these steps part of your usual routine.
The gut cleanse
Firstly, you should know the signs of an unhealthy gut before determining if this cleanse is right for you. Some symptoms of poor gut health can include:
- Change in mood
- Stress, anxiety or depression
- Bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, pain or excessive gas
- Excessive sugar cravings
- Getting sick often
- Have food intolerances
Your gut is extremely sensitive, and good gut health means good physical and mental health. So, be good to your gut! Try this detox specifically aimed at cleansing the gut, and follow these guidelines for at least 14 days.
What to eat
Add these to your shopping list before your detox:
- Apple cider vinegar - this stimulates digestion
- Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, coconut kefir yogurt, kombucha, kimchi - these foods promote a healthy balance of good bacteria in the gut
- Turmeric powder - this has great anti-inflammatory properties
- Fresh ginger - this aids in digestion and nausea
- Psyllium husk - this is a great source of fibre for bowel function
- Cabbage, kale, broccoli and other brassica vegetables - these enhance detoxification and are a good source of fibre
What not to eat
- Gluten (wheat bread, cous cous, pasta)
- Red meat
- Processed/refined foods
- Sweets, milk chocolate, fruit spreads
- Fried foods
- Alcohol, coffee and soft drinks
- Margarine and commercial dressings
- Anything with artificial colours or flavours
What supplements to take
These supplements support digestion and absorption of nutrients, protect and heal gut lining and promote good bacteria for bowel health. You can still do a cleanse without supplements and improve your gut health, but these can help move things along. Talk to your doctor to make sure these are right for you.
- Probiotic powder or capsule - this promotes healthy gut bacteria. Look for one that contains at least 15 million CFU and includes Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus rhamnosus strains.
- Aloe vera and spirulina green powder - these both promote gut cleansing and repairing.
- Glutamine powder or capsule - this strengthens and supports gut lining.
- Digestive enzymes capsules - these promote optimal food digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Fish oil capsules - these have great anti-inflammatory benefits. Look for 1000mg per capsule.
- Water: At least 2 litres of spring water and herbal teas throughout the day.
- Morning supplements: 1 serve aloe vera + spirulina green powder + 1 serve glutamine powder in 200ml pure water + 2 fish oil capsules + 1 serve digestive enzymes
- Breakfast: Quinoa and grated pear porridge cooked with almond milk and 1 tbs flaxseed meal + 100g unsweetened natural yogurt
- Snack: Handful raw nuts + green tea
- Lunch: Mixed seasonal vegetable salad with a palm serve size of grilled organic / free range chicken seasoned with garlic, tamari soy and turmeric powder. Dressing 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar + 1 tbsp. extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
- Snack: Raw vegetables + guacamole (mashed avocado, chopped tomato, lemon juice, garlic, coriander and seasoning)
- Dinner: Palm serve size of baked salmon with seasonal baked vegetables with coconut oil + side serve of kimchi
- Evening supplements: 1 serve aloe vera + spirulina green powder + 1 serve glutamine powder in 200ml pure water + 2 fish oil capsules + 1 serve probiotics
The liver detox
You can think of your liver as a fat producing powerhouse. It is also responsible for more than 500 different functions in the body - including detoxification and neutralizing toxins.You can control how much it produces by making choices about what goes in your body.
For two weeks, you should include these key ingredients in your diet to help cleanse your liver:
- Coconut oil: Like all natural fat, it "helps you feel satisfied and reduces sugar cravings," notes Hyman. Plus, preliminary studies suggest that coconut oil heals the liver even for people who don't switch to a healthier diet. Aim for one to two tablespoons per day.
- Cruciferous veggies: Broccoli, kale, collards, and radishes all help raise levels of glutathione - an antioxidant that's a liver detoxifier and anti-inflammatory.
- Sulfur-rich veggies: Onions and garlic help the liver produce bile to break down fat, which in turn makes it easier for the body to burn carbs for energy. Dandelion greens are another bile-booster. Aim for one serving daily.
- Green tea: Rich in antioxidants, have 2-3 cups of green tea a day. Note that there is still some caffeine in it, so this depends on your tolerance.
- Turmeric: This spice is rich in the antioxidant curcumin, which is so good for the liver, studies show it can even improve fat burning in people with genetic liver problems! Aim for one to two teaspoons daily.
- Milk thistle tea: This has been known to support a healthy liver.
- Lemon juice: A squeeze of it in your water provides vitamin C that helps the liver emulsify fat. Try one spoonful every morning.