Do we really need to detox?


I love detoxing. And I'm not just saying that because I work for a detox company. In fact, I was a detox fan way before I joined the Fit 'n' Tasty gang.

Undeniably, there are many great benefits from giving your body a digestive rest. Modern medicine has proven that it is only in rest that our body begins a deep detoxification process, a process which is beyond just the daily elimination of waste matter. You can cleanse your body in many different ways: fasting aka abstaining from food for a few hours or days, drinking juices, taking herbal formulation and colon cleaning through colonics. These methods all allow the body to use energy that would normally be used to digest food to be diverted to detoxifying poisons stored in many areas of the body.

I've done many things in the name of detoxing in the past: 1 day cleanses up to 10 day cleanses, liver cleanses, herbal supplements and yes, even colonics.

Given that I have a chemical engineer who works for Nestle as a father , I've had to defend my seemingly "useless", "unnecessary" and "ridiculous" detox ordeals in the past. Fair to say I have done my research to convince them that no, I am not crazy, and yes, this actually works. Here's what I've learnt:

Why do we need to detox?

The food we eat, the beverages we drink and the air we breathe all contain some form of contaminant. The body can handle some toxins, but our modern way of living is making it harder and harder for the body to keep up. The intake of processed food, chemicals and environmental toxin, food additives, GMO foods and free radicals is just getting too much to handle.

In theory, the body has many organs to help the natural detoxification process: lungs, kidneys, liver, colon, skin and lymphatic system. Did you know that the skin is the biggest organ, hence one of the most important organs for the detoxing process? But if the channels of elimination are clogged, then toxins build up and it starts becoming problematic.

When you do a juice cleanse, the energy that is normally needed for digestion is now freed up to heal your metabolism, clear up your skin, give you energy and make you more concentrated. You might feel worse the first 1-2 days, but by day 3 you most likely feel energetic, radiant and ready to take on the day.

What are my thoughts on juice cleanses?

It’s so often seen as a quick fix for weight loss, which I don’t agree with. Yes, the number on the scale might decrease but it's simply because you don't have any food in your system. But it can be an amazing way to kick start your journey towards a healthier you. After a cleanse, I always feel lighter, more energised and have almost no sugar cravings (and I'm a sugar addict...). I think it's a really great way to break the cycle of craving bad foods! For at least the week after the cleanse, I don't crave anything unhealthy and just feel damn good and seem to be naturally making the right choices.

Along with physical toxins, we are all also holding on to some kind of emotional toxins.  At some point, we've all felt that feeling that's best be described as: "Ugh." Being stuck, feeling unsatisfied, foggy minded and not really ourselves. We all have moments when we need to just hit the "reset" button. And for me a quick juice cleanse does the trick every time. Detoxing has such a positive effect on my mind and soul. It gives me a chance to relax, heal and become more conscious and aware again.

What to look for when buying a juice cleanse

The most important thing is that it’s organic. There is no point in drinking non-organic juice in an attempt to flush out toxins, as you would be taking up new toxins at the same time. If you are going to be drinking pure juice, then it should really be the best quality possible. Also, make sure it's cold-pressed. Cold press machine's such as the Norwalk are fairly expensive, so most home machines are centrifugal. Which is great if you are making your own juices at home, but if you are already investing into a juice cleanse, it should definitely be cold pressed.

Can a juice replace a meal?

During a juice cleanse, certainly. But on a day to day basis I would say no as it's not filling enough and you will most likely be hungry again soon. I drink juices as a snack or accompaniment to my normal meals. They're also great on the go or a post workout refreshment. Sometimes if I'm not hungry in the morning I'll start with a green juice and have a late breakfast when I'm actually craving food.

How often do I juice?

I used to detox for 1 day a month and additionally do longer cleanses whey I felt that my body needed it. The longest I have ever done is 10 days, and that wasn't even planned. I was supposed to do only 5 days but I felt so good that I just kept going on.

These days I like to include fresh juices into my daily life as a healthy compliment to my diet. I see juices as part of a daily diet rather than a drastic cleanse.  But generally speaking, every change of season is a good time to rid the body of built-up toxins.


Juices vs. smoothies - what's better?

To me the difference between a juice and a smoothie is the most obvious thing. But even my boyfriend to whom I've been rambling on about nutrition for the last four years still sometimes confuses the words juices and smoothies (and it drives me crazy!). To settle it once and for all:

Juices can only be made using a juicer. It's a process that removes all the fibre from the fruits and veggies to create a thin liquid.  Taking out the fibre means your body can absorb the nutrients much quicker than with a smoothie, as it doesn't need to be broken down and digested first. Juices are less filling than smoothies, which is why I use them rather as a snack or alongside my breakfast. On the other hand, smoothies can be really filling and easily work as a meal replacement.

I look at it this way: we all need plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit in our diet, whether we eat, juice, or blend them. They are both amazing for us and however way we choose to take them in - it's all good! I think the key here is to mix it up.

My top tips for detoxing

  •  Everyday when you wake up, the first thing you should do is drink a big glass of warm water. Actually, make that a whole bottle.
  • Drink your juices as slowly as possible. Savour them as if they were a real meal and really enjoy them.
  • It is important to keep flushing your system, so make sure to drink as much water, fruit water, herbal teas (nettle, artichoke, dandelion, mint) and coconut water as possible. The more the better!
  • Don’t over pack your schedule & take time for yourself. Make sure you get enough rest and especially enough sleep. 8 hours should be an absolute minimum.

And then are many other things you can do to facilitate the body’s detoxification process. As mentioned, the skin is the largest organ, providing an efficient exit route for all the bad stuff (this is why some people break out on their skin or experience unpleasant body odor).

  • Exfoliate - Get yourself a dry body brush and gently scrub your body for 5 or more minutes in the morning to open your pores. I actually do this 3-4 x a week, not just when I'm detoxing. It activates your blood flow, helps with cellulite and is a great way to create a loving relationship with your body.
  • People often ask if you can still do sports while detoxing. Hell yeah! Most of the time I feel so energised during a cleanse that I even wake up before my alarm. Remember my time at Phuket Cleanse? We would have only green juice for breakfast and do 1-2 hours of exercises afterwards, no prob. That being said: you might feel a bit sluggish and weak in the beginning, so it might be better to opt for low intensity exercises such as power walking or yoga. Listen to your body & give it the rest it asks for.
  • If you feel too exhausted to exercise, a sauna or steam room is another great way to get sweating. Another good alternative is to take a warm bubble bath with Epsom salt, which pulls out toxins through your skin.

If you are new to the world of detox

If you have never done a detox before and your diet is 'normal' as in you're not already vegetarian or vegan and you drink coffee and alcohol, then I suggest you to start with a food detox. You don't have to start with juices; even cutting out coffee and alcohol can already cause detox symptoms for some. The first food detox I did was Nikki Sharp's detox meal plan & I felt amazing on it.

If you're ready to say bye to solids for a while, you might want to start with a 3 day juice cleanse. This is a good start for newbies or someone who just wants to kick start their health again. I started with a 3 day cleanse and slowly worked my way up. 

Helpful detoxing resources