Detox 101: What You Need to Know Before You Start a Detox Programme


The word detox is often being thrown around a lot and has become a bit of a fad nowadays. It is often suggestive of being a quick-fix to end all kinds of health problems, and if done improperly can be more harmful to your health than good. If you’re considering doing a detox or cleanse, there are a few things you need to know before you begin.

What is a “cleanse”?

A detox or a cleanse works by optimizing our natural cleansing system and taking the weight off the detoxifying organs for a while. This allows organs such as the liver, one of the main detoxifying organs to have a bit of a break. In short, detoxing is the process of removing toxic substances and allowing your body to heal and regenerate itself.

How long does a cleanse last?

There are always different options for cleansing; whether you want a daily, weekly or seasonal cleanse.

A ‘proper cleanse’ is often between 14-30 days, cutting sugar, gluten, dairy, caffeine, meat, processed/junk food, soda and alcohol. These can all give your liver a hard time, so a cleanse can help to restore the liver and give it a break.

However, it’s totally up to you the individual on how long you want your cleanse to last. You can do a total cleanse for 2 weeks, a month or just making small additions to your current diet; such as adding in supportive foods and herbs, or perhaps cutting back on the amount of coffee that week. Although our bodies can and will naturally detoxify us daily, it is never going to be an unwanted help if we chose to add in a daily, weekly or seasonal cleanse to help our body out.

What are the risks to a ‘proper’ cleanse?

Many detox programmes throw in big changes and cleansing regimes which cause an outpouring of stored toxins from the body all at once, without making sure the body’s exit routes are open. These exit routes must be open in order to allow the circulating toxins to exit the body and not become reabsorbed into the blood stream. Ultimately this causes further stress on the liver and results in the individual feeling truly awful and with no real health gain.

If you want to know more details on how to ensure your exit routes are open check out our sister post that helps guide you through this here.

Another area that must be addressed is deficiencies in the body. Generally a cleanse or detox is undertaken for a short period of time, however if a cleanse lasts for a long duration you must make sure that you are reaching all of your vitamin, mineral, protein and omega oil recommendations. If the diet is too restricted or does not combine a wide range of nutrient giving fruits, vegetables (particularly green leafy vegetables for minerals), good clean protein sources (such as hemp seeds) and good fats, you may run into difficulties.

You may want to look into supplementing with a good omega 3 fish or algae oil and a multivitamin that is very pure such as Natures Plus Source of Life Garden multivitamins to ensure you are getting your required nutrients.
Once you have reached the end of your cleanse or detox you should ensure that your continuing diet is rich in nutrients in order to keep the body from developing any deficiencies further on.

Where are these toxins coming from?

Toxins are an unavoidable part of modern life—they are everywhere. They are in the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink and wash in. These toxins are also in our bodies created as a result of metabolism; once the cell has absorbed the nutrients it requires, the rest is waste, the by-product of metabolism.

The human body has three main exit routes; the bowels, urinary tract and the lungs.If any one of these become over-burdened, signs of toxin overload will start to rear its ugly head.

Often the first problem people notice is a sluggish bowel, but it can also be seen in the skin when the body uses its own ’emergency exits’ to push out any excess toxins. Other signs could be hormone imbalance, fatigue, moodiness, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances or weight gain.

What are the positive effects of a ‘proper cleanse’?

Used properly, a detox or cleanse can be a really good thing and can allow your body to replenish, heal and regenerate itself. It can also result in more energy, a clearer mindset, cleaner and more glowing skin, better digestion and just an overall feeling of wellness!

We have a fantastic natural system in place to handle the toxins coming in from the air we breathe, the water we are exposed to, all the way through the food we eat. Our systems naturally help the body rid itself of toxins on a day to day basis, however, as a result of living in a world full of toxins coming at us from all sides; our bodies have to work a lot harder than they were ever designed for.

Supporting our excretory organs through proper nutrition with an abundance of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, sufficient water intake, exercise and adequate rest are key. This allows the body to function properly and reach its optimal state of health.

What should I expect during a cleanse?

It does have to be said that detoxing can cause an unpleasant couple of days, especially if you go cold turkey from a lot of ‘addictive’ foods, such as sugar, wheat, dairy and caffeine.

You may experience mood swings, headaches, a foggy head, tiredness and cravings for example. Often these symptoms only last 1-3 days, though it does depend on how good or bad your diet was beforehand.

Bringing yourself off from caffeine can be a difficult experience so you may want to swap coffee for green tea to start and then remove it all together.

Just so long as you are gentle, patient and kind with yourself and eat an abundance of nutritional foods to nourish yourself, you will feel the benefits sooner than you think and any mild discomforts will be worth the trade off. 

Kale Celery Lemon Apple Juice

What types of juices and substances should I consider during a cleanse?

I personally like to give my body liver loving fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices every day to keep it happy, including carrots, lemons, grapefruits, green leafy vegetables, garlic, dandelion, avocados, walnuts, turmeric, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbage. The better the liver functions, the better the rest of your body can function.

These liver-loving substances can be consumed easily everyday by simply adding a slice of lemon or lemon juice to your water, sipping dandelion tea throughout the day, mixing turmericinto juices, smoothies or dips or even adding parsley, coriander or dill to your salads.

If you have a juicer, even better as you can make a whole host of veggie juices to excite your cleansing system! Try having a beetroot, lemon, ginger, celery and apple juice, or how about a green juice with some dark leafy veg, celery, lemon and an apple or two. There are no limitations, just option after option!

– Emily

Twitter: @NourishStores

For more in-depth knowledge on how the body detoxes itself, check out these links below.

*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention. Further, if you’re on any medications please speak to your GP before undertaking a cleanse.