I am often asked by my clients if I believe in the benefits of detoxing. My answer is yes – I absolutely do. With the amount of toxins we are exposed to daily – in our food, soil, water and in cleaning and beauty products and other household products – helping the body lighten its toxic load is more important than ever before. However, when starting a detox or a cleanse -the approach does not have to be overly restrictive or difficult to follow. Keep in mind – small daily steps can have a huge improvement on health.
In short, a detoxification plan is designed to optimize liver and digestive function and to promote proper daily elimination. When you think about it – this all makes sense. Your liver is the largest cleansing organ in the body followed by your gut. Giving the body high fibre, nutrient dense foods and eliminating food irritants is hugely beneficial to the microbiome and elimination process. Over my 20 years in practice, I have seen dramatic improvements in just 5-10 days in skin, bloating, energy, joint pain and other immune like reactions. I have had thousands of people follow the 5-day cleanse outlined in The Natural Makeover Diet report enormous success.
As mentioned, when starting to cleanse or detoxify the body, you do not have to be hard core. You know your body and your relationship with food best – if a certain approach does not promote a positive experience for you (i.e., can result in a food binge), it is time to loosen the reigns a little bit and follow a less restrictive approach. It is a tricky balance to strike between promoting healing and maintaining a positive food experience – but when you shift to clean eating -it can be done!
Like many of my clients, I have had my own digestive and immune struggles in the past – and have found regular cleansing approaches (a few times a year) to be very beneficial. When dealing with chronic pain, auto immune conditions, skin issues and/or gut issues – detoxifying and cleansing can be a very powerful tool.
Below you will find a few of my guideline for a healthy and safe detox. In short – the notion of “out with the bad and in with the good” is where your food focus should lie.
As always, if you have any health care conditions or additional questions, it is best to talk to your primary health care practitioner.
How long should I follow a detox approach for?
This is a great question and is entirely up to you! I typically recommend a minimum of 5-7 days to notice some positive changes.
What should I eliminate?
The most common foods to eliminate are those that can cause blood sugar fluctuations, inflammation, and digestive upset.
- Processed sugar
- Refined flours
Please note: When you detox from sugar, you can experience withdrawals, intense cravings and a headache in the first few days. Eating fresh fruit, dates and drinking sweet herbal tea can really help. I recommend Celestial Seasoning Bengal Spice tea – it is naturally sweet and really helps you get over the sugar addiction.
In addition – for some people (like myself) gluten and dairy will always be an irritant that persists. It is for this reason that I strictly eliminate gluten and dairy from my diet –the “food hangover” I get from eating both foods is just not worth it. Some people who are sensitive to dairy can tolerate goat’s cheese/milk.
What should I add in the diet?
In a nutshell, a mixture of fruits and vegetables, essential and monounsaturated fats and lean protein are all important for health and wellness. Examples include:
- Leafy greens
- Carrots, celery, peppers,
- Sweet potatoes
- Apples, oranges, lemons
- Fiber – ground flaxseeds, chia, hemp hearts
- Lean protein – organic fish, organic eggs, grass fed beef, high quality protein powder or collagen powder
- Essential fats
- Nuts and seeds
- Cleansing herbal teas
- Chickpeas, black beans
- Olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil
Can I drink coffee while I detox?
This is literally the most common question I get! When you eliminate coffee or caffeine – you can get difficult withdrawal symptoms for a short period of time. When I cut coffee cold turkey a few years ago – the withdrawal effect was so profound I was sure I had the flu!
I do love my coffee and drink 1 coffee per day (even if cleansing). I drink alkaline, mold free coffee by Vitacup on most days. If you do decide to eliminate coffee all together, you can substitute with chicory root tea or matcha.
Small daily detox practices
In addition to following a cleanse, there are a few daily “mini” detox steps I practice daily. I find these steps to be very effective with myself and my clients for energy, lowering inflammation and keeping brain fog at bay. They are:
- Upon waking, I drink 8 ounces of room temperature water with lemon.
- I drink 2-3 liter of water per day. I also often add chlorophyll to my water.
- I do not eat after dinner and eat my dinner as early as possible to have a “mini fast” per day (i.e., 12-14 hours)
- I supplement with a high quality probiotic, omega 3 fish oil, high quality protein powder and/or collagen in my smoothie and a gut re-building powder called GI revive. You can visit my shop and see some of my favourite supplements.
- I keep natural sweet options on hand for when a craving strikes. Click here for my favorite chocolate energy ball recipe.
- Instead of using sugar, I often bake with non calorie, low carbohydrate monk fruit sugar (I also use it in my coffee)
- If I am really craving something (i.e. pizza is my go-to!) – I let myself have it (although it does have to be gluten free).
In addition to nutritional approaches, there are some non nutritional detox practices that are very effective which include:
- Taking social media breaks
- Spending time in nature
- Sleeping in a dark, cool room
- Taking cold water showers or bath
- Stretching in the morning
- Having a private practice of journaling, yoga, meditation or alone time in the morning
- Breath work
- Listening to music
- Spending time with a loved one or pet (did you know that studies in infants and young children have shown that early exposure to a pet actually increases the diversity of the human gut microbiome!)
Looking for some more great articles and recipes? Read more on my blog on www.drjoey.com !