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The Only Detox Diet You Need To Know About

Updated: May 9

Detox juices. Detox diets. Detox teas. Detox supplements. Detox cleanses.

It’s that time of year again when we are inundated with adverts and social influencers convincing us that we need to “detox” after overindulging at Christmas. I’m going to let you in on a little secret… you do not need to go on a detox diet.

Our body is pretty incredible at clearing out toxins from our system. It does this every single day.

Yet it seems like everywhere you look, you hear how our bodies are packed full of toxins which are playing havoc with our health. Often by companies who are then trying to sell you one of these many “detox cures”.

So what are toxins?

Before we explore why you don’t need any of these detox products, what exactly are toxins?

We generate a significant amount of toxins within our body, simply as a by-product of the many processes that occur within it daily. For example, hormones that we’ve used go through the liver to be inactivated and removed. But if the liver isn’t able to do its job effectively these hormones can get reabsorbed. And as far as our skin is concerned this is not great news, particularly for acne sufferers.

We also live in a world which is a far cry from the one our ancestors lived in. Pollution, processed foods, household chemicals, smoking and excess alcohol intake are just some of the external toxins that can put the body under stress.

But don’t I need to detox to help get rid of these toxins?

It sounds enticing to be able to help this process by drinking a juice or popping a pill. The glowing ‘post-detox’ photos make these quick-fix solutions seem almost too good to be true.

Can we really detox without these miracle products? The short answer… yes we can.

Detox diets are not necessary.

Our body is well equipped to deal with the stresses of everyday life, including exposure to these toxins. Our liver, kidneys, digestive tract, lungs, lymph system and skin all act as detoxification systems to deal with these unwanted stressors and safely remove them from our body.

There’s plenty we can do to support our body’s natural detoxification systems by supporting the flow of stressors into and out of our body.

Picture a bathtub. Water flows in and then out and down the drain pipe. Now put the plug in. The water continues to flow in but at some point, unless you turn off the tap, the water will start to flow over the side of the bath. You either need to reduce the water flow in or release the plug to increase the water flow out.

Our body is similar. Toxins enter our body through our digestive system, respiratory system or our skin. Our detox organs kick into action to deactivate and remove them. But what happens if our exposure to toxins is too great for our body to deal with? Our bathtub overfills.

So supporting our natural detoxification process is actually quite simple. We need to:

1) Decrease the water flow in, i.e. decrease our exposure to toxins and stressors

2) Increase the water flow out, i.e. support our detoxification organs

So how do I do this?

Here are my top nine tips for how to support your liver in doing what it does best... detoxifying.

1. Eat the rainbow

It shouldn’t be any surprise that eating a colourful variety of fruit and veg is top of the list. These are packed full of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals which support the liver and increase its detoxifying ability. This is why juice diets are bigged up as a detox essential because they give a great hit of nutrients. But juicing removes all the fibre, and we need this fibre to bind to the toxins in your intestines allowing you to poop them out.

2. Poop daily

Talking of poop… have a daily bowel movement. This is a key way in which you can rid your body of toxins. If you don’t, and the poop sits in your bowel for too long then these toxins can simply be reabsorbed. So focus on high-fibre foods such as fruit and veg (with the skins on), and whole grains.

3. Protein

One thing you might notice about many detox fads is that they are lacking in protein. Without protein, our liver cannot detoxify. Another red cross for the detox juices. Eggs, free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, tofu, and legumes… all of these provide the protein necessary for our liver to perform the 500-plus chemical reactions it carries out each day.

4. Drink drink drink (water that is)

Drinking 1.5-2 litres of water a day will help keep your kidneys functioning at full capacity helping your body flush out unwanted toxins. It doesn’t have to just be plain old water though. Try adding some mint leaves to your water to give it some flavour. Or squeeze some lemon juice in to stimulate your liver. Or switch your caffeinated tea to a herbal tea.

5. Manage stress

In today’s world stress is pretty hard to avoid. But when we are stressed we enter into fight or flight mode. It’s a normal response so that we are primed and ready to run from danger, or stand and fight the danger. But this fight or flight mode diverts energy to where it is needed most. And our digestive system is one area which is effectively switched off. So if we are eating when we are stressed we simply can’t absorb all the wonderful nutrients from the food we are eating. This leaves our liver devoid of the tools it needs to work effectively.

6. zzzzzzz

Are you getting 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night? If not make this a priority. Whilst we sleep our body carries on working and it’s during this sleep time that our brain switches off from ‘alert’ mode into ‘repair’ mode, with toxins moving out of the brain to be dealt with.

7. Increase lymphatic flow

Lymphatic what? Our lymphatic system is kind of like our waste disposal unit. It transports waste around the body where it can be dealt with. But it doesn’t have an organ like the heart to keep the system moving. So we need to support this through exercise, dry brushing, lymphatic massage and enjoying a sauna.

8. Reduce toxic load

We’ve talked a lot about how to support the emptying of the bathtub, but one really important step we can take is to slow down the water flow in. We can do this by reducing our intake of caffeine, alcohol and processed foods. We can quit smoking. We can avoid using unnecessary medications. We can reduce our plastic use. We can choose organic foods where possible (and where the budget allows). We can use non-toxic cleaning products.

9. Minimise alcohol

Alcohol deserves a separate mention because it gives the liver a pretty good workout. It’s a tough job for the liver to clear out the alcohol, and by giving the alcohol preferential treatment, the liver’s other detoxification jobs get pushed to one side. After all, there’s only so much our liver can handle at once.

So there you have it. Nine far more effective ways to support your already pretty effective internal detoxification system, without having to go on any kind of fad "detox diet".

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