Detoxing has been practiced for millennia and is all the more important today as we live in an increasingly toxic environment. Choose a detox programme to suit yourself and start your new year clean.
Are you hoping for a clean start in the New Year? Detoxification is one of the first steps to take if you are serious about feeling great! In my opinion, the purification process of cleansing/fasting/detoxification is the missing link in Western nutrition and one of the most powerful healing therapies.
I suggest you set up a plan, in writing, stating what you will do, for how long, and what you wish to achieve. Choose a programme to suit your individual needs – here we share a 10- day and a four-week detox programme with you.
It helps to find a friend or family member to detox with, to help each other get through any hard times and to have someone with whom you can share your success.
Every once in a while, it is beneficial to hit the reset button and give your body the detox boost it needs. There is no time like the present to ‘clear’ the liver, kidneys, skin and bowels – our body’s main organs of detoxification.
Many people find that detoxification eliminates symptoms of bloating, indigestion, allergies, sinus problems, and many other discomforts. Another bonus is natural weight control, along with increased energy levels, an elevated mental/emotional state, and a renewed sense of self-awareness. It may also help prevent chronic disease and slow the ageing process. During a detox programme it is best to avoid strenuous exercise, as the body needs energy for the detox processes.
Don’t forget the skin!
Daily brushing of the skin, with a natural bristle skin brush, removes dead skin layers and facilitates elimination of toxins through the skin. Natural salt and/or sugar-based scrubs are also good exfoliators. Soaking in a warm bath that contains a cup of Epsom salts helps to eliminate toxins through the skin.
1. CHOOSE YOUR DETOX PROGRAMME CAREFULLY
With the onslaught of detox commercials and products out there, where do we start? First, decide how much time you can commit to your programme. A 10-day regimen is a good choice as many people are able to follow a healthy eating and lifestyle programme for this amount of time without feeling overwhelmed. If you want to go a little deeper, I suggest the four-week programme by Dr Sandi Nye, expert on our author panel, presented later on.
According to Dr Nye: ‘There are many ways to detoxify the body; juice fasting, water fasting, detox baths and spa treatments, enemas and raw food diets are some of the better known ones. Then there are more targeted detox programmes that require professional guidance, since they need to be conducted in a specific manner. These include heavy metal detoxes, gallbladder, liver and kidney flushes, plus colon and intestinal cleanses. Other detox plans are more exotic sounding, and perhaps less well-known, such as the lemonade diet, the hallelujah diet, the mucus-less diet, the grape cure, the lemon juice and maple syrup cleanse, or the watermelon diet. These, and a slew of others, make regular appearances in the media – especially at springtime. It should go without saying: dump the junk (food and behaviour) – particularly during a detox! Some detoxes can be as short as a juice fast for one day, while others are designed to detox for 7, 10, 14, and 28 or 49 days – or longer. In Ayurvedic medicine, specific detox routines are advocated for the start of each new season. These regimens all have their proponents, and many are based on sound naturopathic principles, which have often been tried and tested for centuries. There are also many specific detox programmes that claim to cure almost any condition, including cancers.’
THE 10-DAY DETOX
Commit to 10 days of healthy eating, happy thinking and a detoxification protocol. Avoiding obvious environmental toxins, which include toxic emotions, behaviours and people, and the benefits of the detox should be longlasting. The results will make you smile – and you may never want to go back to your old unhealthy habits again!
While it is always preferable to avoid junk foods, fried foods and processed foods, it is absolutely necessary to stick to these restrictions while on a detox. Processed, fried, greasy and sugary foods contain complex substances that are difficult for the body to digest and may include the very toxins we are trying to expel.
Another food you must avoid is wheat. Wheat products are hard for your body to digest, and may become a toxin in your bloodstream if not processed correctly. The same goes for milk and dairy. These will increase mucus production and may include environmental chemicals and hormones.
Stock up on healthy foods and snacks before beginning your detox – choose whole, organic foods, and you’ll support your body’s ability to eliminate toxins. Much of our conventional grocery store produce is covered in pesticides, fungicides and petroleum-based horticulture oils, many of which cannot be metabolised by our bodies and end up accumulating in our fat cells, intensifying our toxic load.
Soluble fibre is found in fruit, oats, legumes, pectin, psyllium husk and root vegetables. Insoluble fibre is found in dark, leafy green vegetables, fruit skins, rice bran and root vegetable skins.
Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that tends to provide the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability and is typically considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency.
Eat soup and salad
While on your detox, take your food with you to work or on the road in a container or lunchbox. For the duration of the 10 days, eat six to eight times a day – you should never be hungry.
Vegetable soup is a staple you can eat every day while detoxing. Make a large pot of soup and eat it two or three times a day. Make sure your soup contains cabbage. This is an excellent source of vitamin C as well as the amino acid glutamine, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Cabbage also contains indole-3-carbinol, or I3C, which has been studied for its anti-tumour effects. Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli are high in sulforaphane, which has been scientifically studied for its amazing array of health supportive properties, including anti-cancer, antidiabetic, and antimicrobial activity. Feel free to add all of these to the pot!
In addition to the soup, eat at least one large salad every day, and all the steamed vegetables you want. If you feel you absolutely cannot give up animal products, include a small portion of oily fish, pre-cooked organic chicken or turkey once a day. Two servings of organic fruit a day is a great addition.
For snacks, get some unflavoured rice cakes and spread nut butter on top. Another great snack is a whole avocado, cut up and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Colonic irrigation, enemas and increased soluble and insoluble fibre in the diet assist with elimination via the colon. The aim is to have at least one soft bowel movement a day. If adding fibre is not enough, supplementing with magnesium citrate or magnesium sulphate is likely to get things moving in the right direction. Magnesium sulphate, also known as Epsom salt, has a long history of use as a gentle laxative, and helps to swiftly cleanse the colon. When you read the ingredients on a fibre blend, look for chia and flax, since these seeds act as a cleansing bulking agent, as well as providing healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
If you have poor digestion and possibly a leaky gut, it would be a good idea to consider using healing nutrients and herbs such as glutamine, Aloe vera, liquorice and zinc as part of your detox. These may help reduce your leaky gut, improving digestion and health.
Liver Flush Tea
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp peppermint leaves
- 1 tsp flaxseed
- 4 thin slices of fresh ginger root
Method Boil the ginger root for 3 minutes in about 4 glasses of water and then add the rest of the ingredients. Let the mixture steep for 10 – 15 minutes. Drink during the course of the day while following a simple vegetarian diet.
Cleanse with bentonite
Bentonite is a kind of clay that was first discovered in ancient cretaceous rock formations in Wyoming. It has been ground into a fine powder, mixed with water, and used as a cleansing drink by indigenous cultures for thousands of years. Physicians in the USA regularly recommended bentonite as a cleansing drink until the 1940s, when pharmaceutical drugs took over as the medical treatment of choice.
Natural health care practitioners, who regularly include detoxification as one of the most important cornerstones of health, often recommend the use of bentonite as part of the protocol.
Follow the product instructions for the bentonite that you choose carefully, since adverse effects such as headaches, gas, bloating, rashes and indigestion can occur when starting a detoxification programme. If you experience any of these, continue on the eating plan and stop taking your supplements for a day. Then begin using them again in small amounts, increasing each day until you are using the dose recommended on the package.
Replace with probiotics
Part of a good detox plan involves not only killing off any bad bacteria and yeasts but replenishing your digestive system with beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. There are various types of probiotics, and while they are all beneficial for digestion, their functions vary slightly. There are many different beneficial strains of probiotics available, so you and your health care provider will need to choose the most appropriate strain for you, tailoring your detox plan to suit your needs.
Supplements to the rescue
Choose the supplements to assist you in your detox programme wisely.
To give yourself a good clean-out on the inside, you need a healthy liver that is functioning at optimal capacity. Look for amino acids that up-regulate the liver’s ability to break down toxic compounds, including glycine, glutamine, methionine and N-acetyl-cysteine.
Herbs such as:
- milk thistle
- globe artichoke
and parasite protectors such as black walnut, and tonics like heart-healthy hawthorn and ashwagandha and Schisandra can all work together to support liver function and stimulate detoxification.
In addition to adequate water intake, it is recommended to replace table salt with sea salt or Himalayan crystal (rock) salt, both of which contain a healthy balance of minerals. (See our article on Salt as Medicine). Cherries and cranberries, in particular, help eliminate uric acids, as do potassium-rich fruits like apricots, bananas, and melons. To further reduce uric acid levels, which put a strain on the kidneys, decrease protein intake, especially fatty red meat, as well as all fried foods, alcohol and yeast products. Parsley, dandelion, chard, raw spinach and asparagus all assist positive kidney function.
When you choose your detoxification products, read the label carefully. It’s best to choose a product that does not contain fillers and preservatives such as potassium benzoate, since this substance can release benzene when it comes in contact with antioxidants such as vitamin C.
4. SLOWING DOWN
It’s important to relax when you detox, as your body might fight back with cravings and resist the process of letting go if you’re stressed. If you change your routines, focus on yoga, meditation, nurturing dinners, calming music and comforting friends, detoxing becomes a lot easier.
In the beginning, it may well be very difficult to break away from late nights and eating whatever seems convenient. At night the body slows down, meaning that the metabolism works slower. A normal evening dinner, with a combination of starches and protein, is an overload for our digestive system. By eating light at night, your sleep will be less disturbed and you will wake up feeling refreshed as your body doesn’t have to be working when it needs to rest. Some detox diets encourage drinking vegetable juice at night. Plenty of nourishing fluids such as fresh juice, soup and smoothies should keep you filled up.
Detox Drink by Sally-Ann Creed
Take for the first three days of the detoxification programme:
- 300ml carrot juice
- 100ml beetroot juice and a few of the tops (beet greens)
- 60ml of a combination of broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and kale
- 4 large cloves of garlic
- 3 tbs of powdered juice of barley shoots.
Juice all except the barley juice powder in a centrifugal juicer, add the barley juice powder, whisk in and drink immediately.
A 4-WEEK METABOLIC DETOX PLAN
Avoid products containing wheat, cow’s milk, sugars, caffeine and alcohol. Avoid all packaged, processed foods and anything containing chemical additives or preservatives. Avoid processed fats and oils, including margarine. You may experience withdrawal headaches if you drink a lot of coffee, caffeinated products or sugar. A spoon of alkalizing bicarbonate of soda in a glass of water can help to neutralize toxic headaches. Include a wide
range of fruits and vegetables, especially those of organic origin. Organic foods are relatively free of pollutants and also contain higher levels of phytonutrients. Eat a rainbow diet to ensure a good range of phytonutrients, and to facilitate the detox process. Select fruit and vegetables from each colour of the seven rainbow colours, especially the dark colours. Cut down on animal proteins (choose only free-range) or cut them out completely. Take care in selecting personal care and body products to reduce the chemical load, since the skin is the largest organ of elimination.
A plant-based medical food supplement is a useful addition to the detox process, as it provides the nutrients needed to support detoxification processes, and the plant base provides the requisite protein. It is also beneficial to take a purified omega-3 supplement and a good probiotic daily to support the intestinal flora.
In addition to the restrictions of week 1, cut out other grains except rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa and amaranth. Increase intake of fruits, especially those with detoxifying phytochemicals such as all types of berries, cherries, grapes, lemons and pomegranates. Freshly squeezed vegetable and fruit juices are an important means of increasing phytonutrient intake. Increase intake of vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kale, horseradish, radish, turnips and watercress. Leafy greens such as bok choy, coriander, chard, parsley and spinach greatly assist detoxification. Asparagus, artichokes, beets, celery and parsley provide liver and kidney support. Garlic, onions and cruciferous vegetables provide thiols for Phase 2 liver detoxification.
A 2- or 3-day liquids-only regimen is optional in this week, e.g. vegetable broths or vegetable juices, plus the medical food supplement (which, on a medically assisted detox programme, will have increased to its maximum dose by now). See our recipe for a potassium broth below.
Recipe for potassium broth (Week 3)
- 2 organic onions, peeled and sliced
- 4 large organic potatoes, well-scrubbed and peeled (only the skin is used)
- 3-4 large organic carrots, well-scrubbed and chopped
- 4 large stalks of organic celery, washed and chopped
- 3 beets, root and leaves, well-scrubbed and chopped
- 1 large bunch of organic parsley, well-washed and chopped
- Lots of organic raw garlic
Put everything in a stainless steel pot and cover with pure water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for ± 1 hour. Cool and strain. Drink only the liquid broth.
‘Normal’ foods are slowly reintroduced – one at a time – noting any adverse reactions that may indicate a sensitivity or intolerance to that food. Start with brown rice and steamed vegetables, plus fruits. Take care to eat small servings and chew each mouthful well. Savour each bite and enjoy the taste of simple foods. After a few days, add some fish or legumes, followed another few days later by milk substitutes, nuts, seeds and other grains. Meat and poultry are added finally, if desired. By now most foods, except those that caused a reaction, should have been reintroduced into the diet. Continue to avoid any reactive foods and eat as many clean, organic and free-range foods as possible.
SLEEKGEEK’S 30 DAY REBOOT CHALLENGE
Founded in 2012 by Elan Lohmann, Sleekgeek SA is a health and fitness support community which offers all of its members a free platform for inspiration, advice and motivation on their journey to health. Sleekgeek approaches health and fitness from a genuinely unique angle – all support is free of charge and members do not have to follow a specific eating plan or training programme. Eating real food and getting active is encouraged, and anybody wanting to improve their health and vitality are welcome at Sleekgeek. One of Sleekgeek’s main goals is to reach 100 000 South Africans and inspire them to change their lives and become healthy, fit and to have a life filled with vitality. Let’s help them get there! Sleekgeek’s 30-day Reboot Challenge, which kick-starts most people’s journeys to health and fitness, promotes the exclusion of sugar, processed food and gut irritants. For more info visit www.sleekgeek.co.za/reboot. The programme is free to access.
Sleekgeek runs three Transformation Challenges a year – New Year Challenge, Winter Challenge and Summer Challenge. Each of these are eight weeks long and include eating plans, training plans and loads of motivation to help challengers succeed with a fantastic transformation. There are stacks of prizes to be won as an added incentive.
A common misunderstanding is that a detox is a rapid weight loss diet. However, although detoxing can help you attain the shape you desire over time, it is not a starvation programme and should not be done as a quick-fix. Your focus should always be on what you can eat as opposed to what you can’t eat. Good luck and a happy and healthy New Year!