How to Detox Safely and Effectively
Now that you know a little more about detox from the Why We Need to Detox article, lets learn more about how to start a safe and effective detox program. Like planting seeds for a new plant, we can think of detox as both a short-term and long-term processes. In the short term, we periodically implement a healthy and natural detox diet or juice fasting program to help flush toxins that accumulate in the body. Long term, we make changes in our daily habits and lifestyle that promotes a healthy body and mind. This will occur gradually over time. Small changes like eliminating dependence on coffee, getting more exercise, doing deep breathing exercises in the morning and eating more vegetables and fresh fruit will build up over time to form a holistic health style.
There are numerous detox programs and diets out there and we try our best to give you a good introduction to each one in our Detox Diet section of this resource. We do not advocate a specific detox program because it is up to you to choose the right program that fits your current health condition and life needs. Although specific eating limitations and health supplementation for each detoxing program is different, a successful and safe personal detox program will always includes these 3 basic elements:
- Preparing, Cleansing and Eliminating
- Rebuilding Healthy Tissue
- Maintaining Benefits from Your Detox
Cleansing and Elimination
This is the central goal of a good detox program, and you can think of it as having 3 components:
Before starting your detox program, take steps to begin reducing your exposure to toxins. Read our guide on Toxins in Everyday Life to get a better idea of the types of toxins entering our body and how to minimize exposure to these toxins. We also have a wide array of Healthy Living guides for you to better understand the foods you eat. Although you can start today and make rapid improvements, this is not simply a weekend project. The key is to arm yourself with knowledge on a safe and effective detox.
The next component of a detox cleanse is to foster your body’s natural ability to process and excrete toxins. A cleansing program that includes several or more days without solid food is the most effective approach. You, of course, during this time will drink ample amounts of fresh juices, broths and health supplements. If your are not ready for fasting, a good cleanse can be accomplished with a mono diet or a raw food diet.
The cleansing process works by self-digestion. During a fast or diet, there is little to no food to digest so the body breaks down damaged tissue, congestive waste material, excess fat deposits, and often, abscesses or tumors. Between the time of decomposition of toxins and their elimination from the body, you may feel like you’re swimming in toxins. This is the side effects (headache, nausea, fatigue, body ordor, bad breath) that many first time detox practitioners feel. Think of it as stripping damaged wallpaper off a wall before a new paint job. The importance of the elimination component of a detox program cannot be overstated.
The final and crucial component of a detox cleanse is elimination of the toxins produced by the cleanse. There are many organs responsible for the elimination of waste from our body, with the main being the colon. Ideally, we engage all of the detoxing organs during our cleansing program. You can gain a deeper understanding of each organ and its detoxifying role in the Body System Detox page or the individual detox organ systems below:
Nourishing and Rebuilding
Contrary to certain misconceptions, detoxification is not about starving yourself. Even the most strenuous 10-day fast should be a profoundly nourishing experience. There are two main ways you will nourish your body during your detox program:
- Basic nutrition from fruit and vegetable juices and from vegetable broths
- Additional nutrition from balanced supplementation
Your Detox Diet
The nutrients in organic fresh juices are easily assimilated by the body, making them the perfect source of nourishment for a detox program. Juices contain potent amounts of antioxidants, enzymes, mineral electrolytes, vitamins and phytonutrients. Fruits and fruit juices eliminate wastes more rapidly than vegetable juices while aiding to eliminate cravings for sugar and sweets. Vegetables and vegetable juices on the other hand carry off excess body acids while supplying the body with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and plant protein.
For added protein, green superfoods like spirulina, chlorella and barley grass can be added to your juices. Chlorophyll and protein-rich, green superfoods stabilize blood sugar levels and maintain the pH balance of the body. Herbal teas can offer added support to various cleansing processes, but be careful not to go overboard. The majority of your nutrient intake should be fruit and vegetable juices with small amounts of green super-foods.
Maintenance: Beware the Retox Diet
The natural health care community is full of disastrous stories of falls from health. Healthy living is not a one time deal but a lifetime investment. To ensure the continued and full benefits of an effective detox program, please keep in mind that the weeks following your detox program are just as important as the detox itself. Whatever program you choose to follow will have its own guidelines for life after the detox. Keep the following in mind during and after your detox:
Vulnarability. When your body is freshly cleansed, it will be more vulnerable to the ill effects of greasy food or sugary treats. That fast food burger laced with chemicals that once sat well in your stomach may give you a terrible bout of indigestion or gastritis. This is your body telling you something unhealthy is entering. You should listen to your body.
Oportunity. After you cleanse and nourish your body (and feel so much better as a result), you may be more inclined and inspired to maintain a higher level of health. This is a great opportunity. Think of it as starting with a clean slate. If you return thoughtlessly to the habits that necessitated your cleanse in the first place, you are missing a great opportunity. Use the post-detox period to introduce and reinforce new healthy ways of living. Make a commitmet to yourself that you will consciously continue some of the detox diet protocols and cleansing therapies (saunas, yoga, epson salt baths, vegetable juices). Not only will they keep your body healthy, they make you feel great!
Self-esteem. A safe detox program will raise your self-esteem and you will feel better for what you accomplished. Don’t risk losing this new gained esteem. Whether you would admit it to yourself or not, sneaking french fries in the days following your detox will make you feel awful.
Role Modeling. If you successfully completed a detox program, you have something to be proud of. The people around you who witnessed your transformation will want to learn from and act on your success. The worst thing you can do is betray that healthy message and go back to unhealthy ways. If you are a parent, then the choices you make after a detox program will send a direct message on the value of health to your children.
Starting a program is the best advice.
Hopefully, you are now armed with the knowledge to embark on your detox or cleansing program. Whether you are a first timer looking for a gentle 7 day detox or a seasoned veteran looking to get more out of your existing detox program, the most important thing to keep in mind is knowledge of your body, environment and the detox program. Remember, by embarking on a cleansing program, you are already taking steps to becoming a more balanced, healthier and happier you.