Detoxification, or detox, is the process of removing toxic substances from the body. Diets that claim to effect a full detox in a matter of days have been around for decades, and several different methods exist. While not scientifically proven to remove any toxins from the human body, many people claim feeling more focused and energetic during and after detox diets, most likely because of avoiding processed foods. Detoxing can do more than make your eyes sparkle and your skin glow – it can boost energy levels, improve digestion and help shift a few unwanted kilos too.
While it may look like a fad diet – no grains, no alcohol, no milk, no sugar (and no fun) – a detox is far from a quick fix for weight loss. The purpose of any detox plan is to take the load off the organs that detoxify the body – the liver, kidneys and bowel – while at the same time supporting and improving their performance. If you want to fast track your health, give your body a break, or just want to detox diet for a short time, follow this safe and do-able seven-day program.
What To Do
Check your diary and mark a week where you have a clean break from functions or events that might derail your detox, such as weddings, birthdays or special occasion meals. Some people may experience a ‘cleansing’ reaction in the first few days of detox, including headaches or loose bowel movements. This is due to the sudden withdrawal of certain foods, in addition to stimulation of detoxifying organs. These symptoms should subside in 24 to 48 hours.
Foods To Avoid During Detox
- Milk products (except ½ cup unsweetened yoghurt with acidophilus each day)
- Sugar, honey, maple syrup, artificial sweeteners
- Grains: wheat (bread, biscuits, cakes, pasta), rye, barley, oats, spelt and rice
- Dried fruit
Foods To Enjoy
- Fruit: any and all fresh fruit
- Vegetables: any and all fresh vegetables
- Fish: fresh, canned in water or olive oil
- Lean red meat, chicken (without the skin). Limit to two serves per week.
- Legumes: dried or canned, such as kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils
- Eggs: preferably organic
- Olive oil (preferably extra virgin), Coconut oil (unprocessed)
- Nuts: raw unsalted almonds, walnuts, macadamias and cashews
- Seeds: raw unsalted sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds
- Green tea, white tea, weak black tea (decaffeinated)
- Water: from one to three litres of water per day
Detox Plan For The Next Seven Days
1. Morning lemon juice: This is an oldie but a goodie to kick start the digestion and cleanse the system. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon in a cup of hot water. Drink first thing in the morning before breakfast.
2. Exercise: During detox aim to exercise for one hour daily. And not just any exercise – something that makes you pant and puff and raise a sweat like a spin class, jog along the beach, walking uphill, hot yoga or boxing. Vigorous exercise increases lymph flow and circulation to help sweat out toxins.
3. Raw foods: Aim to cut out the cooking process and eat mainly raw foods. Raw foods contain more nutrients and enzymes. Try adding fresh sprouts to a salad daily.
4. Detox the mind: While you’re detoxing the body, its good to clear the clutter from the mind too. Aim for 15 minutes of meditation per day. 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. Do this for 15 minutes daily.
5. Drink: Aim to drink three litres of fluid daily. This will help move the lymph and support kidney detoxification. Choose from pure spring water, fresh vegetable juice and herbal detox teas. Or make your own brew by mixing one or a combination of Dandelion root and nettle, cleavers, calendula, burdock and red clover. Add one teaspoon of the dried herbs to a cup of boiling water. Leave to steep for five minutes, strain and drink.
6. Body brushing: Doing this daily will support circulation and increase skin detoxification. Using a loofah or natural fibre body brush, brush the 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. Then jump in the shower. Finish your shower with a one-minute burst cold water which brings the blood circulation to the skin.
7. Chew: Aim to chew each mouthful of food 10 to 12 times before swallowing. Bringing mindfulness to mealtimes improves digestion, allowing you to feel a sense of fullness without a need to overeat.