You’ve probably heard of cleanse diets that supposedly rid your body of toxins, improve the functioning of your internal organs, and help you age better. Most of these don’t work as advertised and are only a temporary fix rather than a lasting benefit.

So What Is Detoxing REALLY?

“Detoxification” means the removal of toxins from the body. We absorb toxins—preservatives, pesticides, stimulants, and heavy metals—through food, water, and air. Also, your own body produces toxins, called metabolic waste products, as a natural result of processes like digestion and respiration. Pretty much everyone carries a huge load of petrochemical and industrial toxins. They come from plastics, pesticides, flame retardants, you name it. Then there are heavy metals and allergens from food or the environment, and internal toxins like bacteria, fungus, and yeast. The result is a buildup of toxins that can leave you fatigued and suffering from poor digestion, and that may even lead to disease.

Luckily, your digestive, endocrine, and circulatory systems come equipped with a complex set of mechanisms designed to eliminate these toxins through your mouth, eyes, skin, colon, urinary tract—even your breath. The trouble is that too much sugar, caffeine, and processed foods, little to no exercise, and stress can slow the body’s natural detox function to a sluggish pace.

The major detox players in the body are the lymph, blood, liver, kidneys, colon, and parasympathetic nervous system. Lymph and blood deliver metabolic waste products to the liver, kidneys, and digestive organs. There, those toxins and any others absorbed from the environment are filtered and packaged so they can be eliminated through urine, exhalation, and solid waste. If your body is compromised by an overload of toxins or fatigue, a buildup occurs in the organs of the abdominal cavity, the fat, and the blood.

I define detoxing as “lifestyle changes that reduce the exposure of toxins while nourishing and supporting the body’s own abilities to improve digestion and elimination.”

So How do I Detox my body?

While there are many approaches to detoxing, they aim for one simple thing: to help the body do what it’s already trying to do. Your body is always getting rid of toxins, but you can aid that natural process by making simple changes to your lifestyle.

Here’s what you SHOULD do:

  • Reduce your exposure to toxins
    Avoid toxic chemicals in your personal care products and your household cleansing products. I use Malone’s Cleaning Products in my home and in my Pilates studio (pictured).
    Unfortunately, we’re surrounded by chemicals but you can reduce your exposure to these toxins by buying specific products. In particular personal products which are absorbed by the skin, for example, body and facial moisturiser, sunless tanner, SPF lotions etc and also your toothpaste. Aim for products which contain ingredients as close to their natural state as possible or make your own. You can also cheaply make household cleansers using items from the grocers.
  • Drink lots of water
    Have as many glasses of filtered water as you can a day. Water is one of the easiest ways you can start flushing out your system. It keeps you hydrated, manages your weight, and can give you clearer, plumper skin!
  • Eat whole, plant-based foods
    This means no processed foods and nothing that comes in a can or a box. So those protein bars, granola bars, and canned fruits have got to go. Healthy foods to include are leafy greens such as kale or spinach, garlic, turmeric and milk thistle. Include a wide variety of nutrient dense vegetables. Try to eat as many raw vegetables you can in salads or lightly steam veg to preserve nutrients. Try to shop in the green grocers, fish mongers and butchers. Only buy from the supermarket what you have to.
  • Buy organic especially animal products
    Conventionally grown foods are covered in pesticides and other toxins. Buying organic food ensures that you won’t be adding to the toxic load. Also animals are fed hormones, antibiotics and such to help them grow bigger and stay healthy. Try your best to consume organic meat and eggs. Also free-range can be leaner and tastier…
  • Reduce Stress
    Reduce cortisol during a detox, avoid stimulants like caffeine, and also sugar and simple carbohydrates. When you consume a lot of caffeine, your body becomes less sensitive to its own stimulants, like cortisol. When the perk-me-up effects of caffeine end, a sudden “crash” is common, leaving you fatigued. The same thing happens after eating sugar. The subsequent drop in sugar levels is stressful on the body, causing it to release extra cortisol to help you bounce back. Consuming sugar and caffeine throughout the day, then, can lead to more cortisol circulating, slowing the natural detox process. To avoid withdrawal headaches, begin eliminating stimulants gradually several days before your detox.

Because relaxation is such an important part of detoxing, have all your groceries and other supplies ready so that you can start fresh and be at ease on that first morning. It’s really about giving yourself a fresh start.

As you can see, I said nothing about starving yourself or limiting yourself to only juices or shakes for days at a time. Those gimmicks don’t work long-term. Remember, transforming how you eat and think about food is a whole-body lifestyle change. It’s not a “lose weight fast” technique or a “magic bullet”. If you eat clean food and then return to your old eating and living habits, you are simply putting a Band-Aid on the problem rather than trying to fix it. Your hard work will be for nothing.

Take time to think about how you’re going to incorporate these changes into your lifestyle, it’s too easy to jump right back into old habits. Think about what could hinder you and who can get on board with you to give you mutual support. Set yourself up to succeed.

The Benefits:

The most dramatic effect that people notice is mental clarity. At first the mind may become a little fuzzy because of the toxins being released and excreted. But soon you’ll notice a definite increase in mental clarity. Your skin will become radiant, have improved digestion and you’ll have profound deep sleep. You’ll have much more energy and a feeling of being more alive.

As you start implementing some of these suggestions and start experiencing some of these wonderful benefits, you won’t want to go back to your life as you know it today!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Check out my Pinterest Board with all of my other blog posts here.

Emma x

PS: Be sure to subscribe to my fortnightly newsletter. I send out a mix of recipes like this to try, and video workouts for you to do at home. As a bonus, you will receive the highlights of my Nutrition Guide.