- Already know everything there is to know about detoxing? If you want to get started making your own homemade detox drinks, then visit our detox drinks recipes.
- Need an easy to follow 3 day cleanse planned out for you? Then you must read our 3-day juice cleanse plan for beginners.
- Want help choosing the best masticating juicer? Read our Top 5 Best Masticating Juicer Guide or go to our reviews page for our favorite products.
- For even more in-depth information regarding juicing AND facts about specific ingredients, have a look in our recent articles section.
- Don’t know anything about detoxing at all? Then read on, learn more and discover exactly what all the hype is about!
Table Of Contents
Detoxing is all the rage! A quick google search yields hundreds of thousands of hits with all types of diets, supplements and tips to detoxify your body and celebrities swear by it before a major red carpet event. More and more, people who are stressed and tired are turning to detoxification as a means to cleanse their systems and improve their health. But why is this practice suddenly gaining in popularity?
When you really think about it, it’s not all that surprising, because let’s face it, the world we live in is dirty! The air is polluted, our water is full of chemicals, our food is sprayed with pesticides or pumped full of hormones, not to mention being heavily processed under the guise of “convenience” and packed full of preservatives and additives.
While the organs of our body are naturally geared towards detoxification, supporters of detoxing believe that with all the extra toxins in our systems as a result of our rapid development, sometimes our bodies can use a little help to purify them. A detox cleanse gets all the muck out of your system and helps to restore the body’s balance, resulting in homeostasis of the body, mind and soul. It provides your body with a “nutritional sabbatical”, so to speak, which is believed to make it much better at dumping the waste and absorbing nutrients.
What Is Detoxing?Detoxification means “to clean”. It aims to cleanse the body of impurities that are preventing it from functioning at its best by boosting the efficiency of the digestive system. An ideal detox cleanse should stimulate the parts of the body that are responsible for removing waste and eliminating toxins, namely the liver and kidneys, to help them perform their functions optimally. Detoxing is also heralded as an aid to weight loss.
The concept of detoxing is based on the notion that your body is full of unwanted and unnatural toxins that enter the body through the food we eat or from environmental sources. As these toxins do our bodies harm they cannot be left and need to be flushed from our system. The basic premise behind detox cleanse diets is to place a temporary embargo on certain foods that are believed to contain toxins, with the goal of purging and purifying our systems of all the “bad stuff”. It is believed that once these chemicals are removed our body can function at its best, leaving us looking and feeling better than ever before.
Detoxing covers a full spectrum of methods from simply cutting out anything you have been consuming in excess (alcohol, coffee, sugar, junk food etc…) to the more extreme, restrictive juice detox fasts and severe body cleansing regimes. Detoxing should not be about starving yourself simply to fit into the slinky black number you have hanging in your closet. While weight loss can be a goal, you need to focus on detoxing as a means to purge yourself of harmful substances – it should ultimately be about your overall state of health.
Why should you detox?
I am sure you agree that we could all use a clean health slate. As a species, humans are extremely geared towards external cleanliness. We brush our teeth and bath daily, we have extensive grooming routines that involve all sorts of products and rituals. We do all this because it makes us feel better as well as look better. So why not give the same level of attention and care to our internal cleanliness?
Detoxing is a great way to get in touch with your body, to really get in tune with what you need, how you feel and what foods are hampering your ability to function optimally. There is honestly no greater feeling in the world than feeling “internally clean”. Once you have begun your detox program and start to feel the effects it can be positively addicting. Eliminating all the harmful substances from your body is like a spiritual awakening. It is like a haze has lifted – you no longer feel sluggish and tired, but alive and full of energy.
It must be said that detoxing takes a fair amount of will power and is not for everyone. Sometimes the mere thought of restricting favorite foods can send you into a frenzy of binge eating with uncontrollable cravings literally taking over. However, even if you are one of those people, you can still detox effectively if you follow the guidelines outlined below. Sometimes all you need is to take that first step, feel the positive benefits and you will be well on your way to a healthier you. Successful detoxing rests on knowing your weaknesses and putting plans in place to prevent the detox backfiring.
If you are serious about ridding your body of toxins, you can find a detox plan that suits your lifestyle. You need to do what is right for you. Don’t feel pressured just because it is the current trend. A detox should not feel like a punishment, it should invigorate you and set you on a healthier path.
What are the benefits of detoxing?
Obviously as everybody is different and people have varying sensitivities to toxins the benefits reported are far ranging. However, having said this, flushing toxins out of your body with detox drinks has numerous blanket benefits that most people report experiencing. Besides the obviously healthier body, you will have more energy, start sleeping better, and have a healthy glow to your skin. Your digestion will improve, your bowel movements will become more regular and there will be a marked improvement in bloating and gas.
After a few days on a detoxifying plan, you will notice that your cravings for salty, sweet and fatty foods will disappear. Detoxing is extremely beneficial in breaking the cycle of emotional eating. Once you have chosen your detox plan and committed to it, you can transform your relationship with food and begin to walk a much healthier path, which will naturally result in weight loss.
One of the major benefits that have been reported is greater mental clarity and improved focus and concentration during and after the detox. Your mood will improve too as you start to feel better and irritability and crankiness will be a thing of the past. Your blood is purified, your immune system is stimulated so you suffer less from illness and your liver and kidney are placed under optimal conditions to do the work they are designed to do. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
How To Detox Your Body?
There are hundreds of different detox diets out there all advocating different methods and different durations. To make things simpler, I have broken them down into two groups – short term detoxes and long term detoxes.
Short-term body detoxes
These are typically undertaken for no longer than a week and serve to kick start your system in preparation for more long term detoxes. To be most effective a short term body detox should include high fiber foods and plenty of fluids. This increases the frequency of bowel movements and urination, which is the primary means of ridding the body of toxic build up.
A short term detox can take the form of a fruit fast where you eat nothing but fruit for a week. This helps you to fast without starving yourself completely. Eating fruit will help you keep your energy levels up and provide your body with vital nutrients. You can choose to eat a variety of different fruits or just one kind, whichever you prefer. Citrus fruits are the best kind to include as they have the best detoxifying effects and can really facilitate toxin elimination. A fruit detox can help you to shed a few pounds quickly and motivate you to continue with your healthy eating practices.Another great short term detox is a fruit and veggie detox. Again fruits and vegetables provide your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to be healthy. The greater the variety of produce you include, the better the range of nutrients your body will absorb. Liquid fasts can be done safely, if you adhere to them for no more than 3 days MAX. A liquid diet will jump start your weight loss due to the severe calorie restrictions, but if you are going to undertake a liquid diet, be sure to follow these guidelines to ensure you do not make yourself sick.
You MUST include fruit and vegetable juices in your detox drinks diet to ensure your body is getting some nourishment. It is also a good idea to include one or two protein shakes per day. During a liquid fast you absolutely must not take laxatives or any other colon cleansers as this can be extremely dangerous without any solid food in your belly. You need to ensure you stay properly hydrated throughout the day during a liquid fast to prevent nausea and headaches and any colon cleansing methods will only serve to dehydrate you.
Long-term full body detoxes
These focus more on lifestyle changes that you can make to keep your body as “clean” as possible. Go green! Everybody keeps telling you it’s better for a reason. Only eat organic produce and free range meats. An experiment was done on a non-organic apple. After it was washed, peeled and cored it STILL tested positive for 4 of the 10 most commonly used pesticides! The chemicals used had literally seeped into the apple flesh. If that doesn’t scare you organic, then nothing will!
Invest in a water filtration system and drink, drink, drink! Drinking at least 2 liters of water daily will flush any lurking germs right out of your system. If you are not a fan of plain water, add slices of citrus fruit or citrus juice to it (recipe links at the top). Not only will this add flavor and make it more palatable to drink, but citrus has fat busting properties to boot – see, there really isn’t a down side! Cut out or at least limit all the things you know you shouldn’t be putting into your body – alcohol, caffeine, sugar, fried foods, processed foods – these all wreak havoc on your body and introduce a ton of artificial elements and toxic substances into your system. I’m not telling you anything new here!
As far as how often you should detox your body there are 2 factors to consider. Firstly, if you follow the plans outlined above to detox your body in the short term and then focus on making the long term changes necessary to maintain your detoxified state there really shouldn’t be a need to detox often. Having said this, we are all human and we all fall off the wagon occasionally. Listen to your body, it will tell you when it needs to be detoxed. If you become attuned to what you need you will know when you need to do a fruit fast or liquid diet. The symptoms of toxicity (headaches, nausea, constipation etc…) will speak for themselves.
Most advocates of detoxing will reboot their system with a short term detox drink method every 2-3 months. The important thing is to ensure that you are receiving adequate nutrition at all times. The detox drinks recipes on this website have been specifically chosen to complement your daily routine. They are not meal replacements and are not supposed to be used in the place of food. They are meant to fit into your daily routine with ease and provide your body with additional benefits, be that weight loss, cleansing, a metabolic boost or whatever. Please detox responsibly – you only have one body – look after it!
Safety & Side Effects
Detoxing is not without risk. If you are considering embarking on a detox drinks diet, especially one of the more extreme ones, it is highly recommended to consult your doctor first. There are some serious potential side effects to some common detox methods that you need to be aware of. If you experience any of the following side effects, cease and desist your detox regimen immediately! It cannot be stressed enough that the key to successful detoxing is not to overdo it. Doing too much all at once can do more harm than good and can lead to some serious damage.
Fasting is generally not harmful if done for a day or two to simply kick start your diet or break an unhealthy eating pattern, but when done for longer periods it can lead to some major health concerns. Severely limiting your calorie intake for a week or more can lead to headaches, nausea, blood sugar problems, fatigue, diarrhea, dizziness, bad breath, and nutrient, vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Furthermore, juice cleanses mean that you are not taking in any form of protein and fat. These are the essential building blocks that your body needs to repair and heal itself. Without these key nutrients you can suffer severe muscle loss and weaken your immune system making you more prone to infection, sickness and injuries.
Colon cleansing through the use of laxatives and enemas is another common form of detoxing that is touted as a way to prevent the build-up of harmful toxins in the gut. Occasional use of such methods, will not do you any harm, but when used frequently, they can interfere with normal bowel function and can cause mayhem with your electrolytes.
In some cases an electrolyte imbalance can be deadly, so please use these methods with caution. In addition, colon cleansing can result in cramping, bloating, nausea, vomiting and dehydration. The most extreme form of colon cleansing is colonic irrigation which is a very risky procedure. Water is pumped into the rectum by a machine which flushes out the entire colon. There is a high risk for bacterial infection and rectal perforation, both of which can result in death.
Chelation therapy is another radical treatment which actually introduces chemicals into the body that are supposed to bind to the toxic ones allowing them to be removed more easily from the body during excretion. The potential risks to this treatment are just plain scary and include abnormal heartbeat and bone loss as well as death.
A special note – detox diets can be very addictive. There is an endorphin rush that comes from going without solid food for any extended period of time. For some people this high is equivalent to the high others get from drugs or alcohol. In such addictive personalities, detoxing can become incredibly dangerous and can lead to a host of serious health issues.
The risk of these side effects definitely doesn’t seem worth it when there are many safe and effective ways to detox your body. Firstly, none of these radical methods have much scientific proof to back up their effectiveness and secondly, can be downright dangerous especially if you are not under the care of a doctor.
Who Should Not Detox?
There are a few groups of people who for obvious reasons should not partake in detoxing of any kind. These include:
- Pregnant and lactating women (many calories are needed to support a baby’s development and growth both in and out the womb)
- Children or teenagers (need plenty nutrition from various sources to promote both physical and mental growth and development)
- A person with any health conditions (for example, diabetes, asthma, heart disease or any other chronic conditions)
- If you are taking chronic medication for any health concerns you should not detox (taking medication without adequate food intake can lead to ulcers)
- A person who has suffered or is suffering from an eating disorder
What Is The Safest Way To Do A Natural Cleanse?
There are a number of methods available to detox. In general, most involve fasting of some kind, with the gradual inclusion of fruits and vegetables. All of them espouse the importance of drinking a ton of water. Some recommend taking supplements or herbs to assist with the elimination of toxins. Still others are advocates of practices like colonic irrigation, enemas and the like. Some are more extreme than others and some are not safe at all.
When deciding to go on a detox diet, it is necessary to allow common sense to prevail. Any detox should have the goal of HEALTH as the foremost priority, with all other outcomes as secondary. There is no point in losing a bunch of weight and finally fitting into that size 10 you have been dying to buy if you are too sick to actually enjoy it. As with anything, moderation is key!
As you have read above there can be some real dangers involved with detox diets and so it is best to approach them sensibly. The bottom line is – if it doesn’t feel good, STOP! If youexperience any side effects, STOP! Detoxing should never make you sick. Listen to your body – if you don’t feel right, alter the detox plan to suit your body’s needs. Right, lecture over!
Now onto the facts. How can you detox your body safely? In my opinion, the best way to approach detoxing is slowly, cautiously and with a long term goal in mind. You want the effects of your hard work and sacrifice to be worth it and to be lasting. Noticeable changes might take longer to show, but when they do, you know they are there to stay.
The best way to start any detox program is to limit or ban the things you know are bad for you – caffeine, alcohol, sugar, fats and heavily processed foods and to up your water intake. This kind of basic detox will help to jump start your body. You will feel healthier, more energized and “clean”, and as a result more motivated to commit to banning the things you know you shouldn’t be having anyway. While you might not lose a lot of weight on a basic detox, you will definitely be more motivated to keep on the healthy path when you notice how much better you feel.
It is important to choose a detox diet where you don’t deprive yourself. Your body cannot function optimally if you do not provide it with fuel. It is always a great idea to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and to drink sufficient water, but you need to ensure you are getting the full range of nutrients that your body needs to function. Try to select a diet where you are getting what your body needs from all the food groups, but concentrate on “cleaning up” your sources.
So for example choose organic veggies over non-organic, lean free range proteins, good, healthy fats and so on. This way your body is still strong but you are reducing the toxins being introduced to your system. Eating a streamlined, repetitive meal plan can provide your body with a much needed reboot. Eat right and your body will do the rest!
Detoxing is a natural process, so if you are taking supplements, make sure they are 100% natural. How do you know if something is natural? A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you cannot pronounce the ingredients on the label, then it is highly unlikely to be natural! Putting only natural foods into your body gives your digestive system a chance to reset, leading to better waste elimination and nutrient absorption.
Many of the detox diets out there promote certain products or pills that need to be taken. The vast majority of these pills are stimulant based and can upset the body’s natural balance by messing with your heartbeat and your metabolism. Detoxing is about cleansing your body, not adding substances.
While many detox programs available online are above board, there are just as many unscrupulous people out there trying to make a quick buck. Do your research before embarking on any detox plan as there are a lot of scams out there. Avoid any method that promises the earth – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is! It cannot be stressed enough – the safest way to detox is to not overdo it. You need to find an achievable and balanced method that works for you.
Remember, the goal is to set the stage for healthy habits that are sustainable in the long term, not to put your body and mind under unnecessary stress with extreme and rapid changes that you are unable to maintain. There is a big risk of weight gain after a detox if you do not do it sensibly. Don’t set yourself up to fail, by manically starving your body for a week. All that will result in is a mad binge on day 8 (if you can even sustain the severe restrictions for a week). Slow and steady is the name of the detox game! The people who are most successful at detoxing are the ones who know their personal limitations and take a more realistic approach. For them, detox dieting is not a once off occurrence, it’s a way of life. Now that’s food for thought!
Detox Diets & Weight Loss
Do detox diets actually work? Truthfully – yes and no.
Most of these diets do work in the short term because they are so restrictive and low in calories. Extreme detox diets are a quick fix that will yield the desired effects if you are wanting to drop a few pounds for a specific occasion. Simple science at play here – Will you lose weight if you exist on nothing but liquid for a week? Of course! Is it sustainable? Absolutely not! And in actual fact you will end up gaining more weight back again when you begin eating. Case in point – Beyonce. She lost a ton of weight very quickly on a detox diet for her role in Dreamgirls, but regained it plus more when she stopped the regimen.
Following a severely restrictive detox diet for anything longer than a few days can spell disaster for your body as you then begin messing with the body’s metabolic processes. The weight you lose initially will be water weight, not fat, and once that is gone your body goes into conservation mode, literally hanging onto every calorie that you consume and storing it as fat – the very thing you are trying to get rid of.
Instead, what you are actually burning away is your muscle mass. Furthermore, fasting for any extended period actually slows down your metabolism, which is the exact opposite of what you want. Then, when you begin eating again, your body burns calories at a much slower rate and hampers your weight loss efforts.
You gain back the lost water weight, have lost valuable muscle mass and will probably pack on a few extra pounds to boot for your trouble. And the worst part is that the weight you gain back is likely to be almost entirely fat. You are now in a far worse place than when you began and as the cherry on top, you are now thoroughly miserable, demotivated and 10 times more likely to try something even more extreme the next time. This kind of yo-yo effect is what gives detoxing a bad name.
Dieters – take a step back, breathe and relax! Lasting weight loss is not something that can be achieved overnight. We all know the desperation of wanting to see immediate results, but the truth is, that’s just not feasible. Deep down we all want to believe there is a quick fix out there that will sort out those extra pounds with minimal effort and in a ridiculously short time frame, BUT (and this is a biggie), even deeper down, we all KNOW that the only thing that is guaranteed to work is dedication, hard work and blood, sweat and tears. It’s not what we want to hear and we definitely don’t want to accept it, but it is the truth!
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that detoxing does not have a role to play in weight loss. It is a very effective aid and if used correctly can accelerate your weight loss, but it is not the answer in and of itself. A detox can be a great transition period that marks the end of your unhealthy eating regime and the beginning of your new healthy plan. Furthermore, detoxing is not a way to make up for dietary indiscretions. Getting into a repetitive cycle of over eating and then detoxing is not healthy physically or emotionally and you will do irreparable harm to your body. Use detoxing responsibly as a weight loss aid, follow the guidelines outlined above and you will reap the rewards. Abuse it and you will end up worse off than where you started – guaranteed! Happy detoxing folks!
If you’re interested in even more articles dealing with juicing and juice cleanses, have a look at our articles section.