• Rachel Clarkson RD

YOUR SPRING CLEAN: CLEANSE & DETOX 101



Spring is upon us which means summer is right around the corner and you probably want to kick your body and health into shape. What better way than to press the reset button and start a detox – or so all the marketing has you believe.


Detoxing – What is it and is it necessary?


By definition, detoxing (detoxification) is a period of time where you rid the body of harmful toxins or substances. When it comes to eating behaviour, you may ‘detox’ to promote health or lose weight. Marketing has us believing that we must ‘detox’ in order to prevent a build-up of toxins that if not removed will have negative health consequences.


The good news is, our bodies are great at removing these toxins from our bodies! Our liver, kidneys, lungs and digestive system cleanse our bodies of harmful substances and toxins all day, everyday. Detox products are therefore not necessary; but how can we support our bodies' natural detox you many wonder?



How to promote a natural detox


Easy steps to keep your ‘detox’ organs healthy:


  1. Stay hydrated: Not drinking enough fluid can put stress on your kidneys

  2. Reduce salt: Salt causes high blood pressure which damages your kidneys

  3. Reduce alcohol: Alcohol-free days and not drinking large amounts at once can help protect your liver

  4. Nourish your body with antioxidants: A variety of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, seeds and nuts will help prevent free radical damage and inflammation

  5. Eat more fibre: Increasing your stool bulk with fibrous foods such as whole grains, fruit and vegetables will act as a broom, sweeping out your bowel


What are the detoxes and what are the myths?


  • Colonic irrigation: Many people swear by enemas to cleanse their insides. Apart from this being an extremely invasive procedure, it has an extremely negative consequence on your gut health. Flushing out your insides destroys your flourishing community of good bacteria -- imagine a rainforest turning into a desert. You are also reversing the benefits of your kombucha, kefir, probiotic yogurt, sauerkraut and expensive probiotic capsule you like to take every morning.

  • Juice cleanse: The misconception is that we need to restrict solid foods to cleanse. Whilst juicing ensures you get plenty of vitamins and minerals, it unfortunately lacks any fibre or protein! You are also causing electrolyte imbalances and slowing down your metabolism! Some people find juicing to be mentally cleansing -- if this is you or if you really love to juice, I would advise sticking to smoothies which would retain fiber. Adding a source of protein would also be wise (seeds/nuts/nut butter/protein powder).

  • Weight loss juice programmes: Or should I say ‘water loss’ juice programmes because that is usually the weight loss that you see. You will regain the weight pretty soon afterwards when your body goes back into balance.

  • Charcoal drinks: This current favourite in the wellness world is being added to everything for its ‘cleansing benefits.’ Charcoal is used medicinally in emergency medicine when a patient is admitted with an overdose. When consumed for health benefits, unfortunately it will do the complete opposite: binding to key nutrients in your food!

  • Detox teas: These promise a perfect cleanse of the body, including a flat stomach after continual use. Unfortunately, this is achieved due to a laxative effect (I don’t need to explain what happens here) but to summarise, this will cause malabsorption of vital nutrients you require for normal body functioning along with a potential accidental pregnancy if you are on the contraceptive pill (yes this has really happened!)

  • Celery juice: This cleansing ritual has been hailed as the miracle cure for everything including detoxifying the body. This claim is however not supported by the scientific community. Yes, celery has anti-inflammatory properties, but so has every other fruit and vegetable on the planet. If you enjoy the taste and feel better for drinking celery juice then by all means carry on. A more nutritious way would be to blend the celery rather than juice it to retain the fibre.


To conclude our Cleansing 101, I do hope you aren’t disappointed with the truth about detoxing and can make some healthy changes to support the natural detox system that is the wonderful human body. If you want to find out more, The DNA Dietitian Clinic would love to personalise health-optimising recommendations in person or via Skype, wherever you are in the world!



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