WHAT IS A DETOX?
Throughout the health market, there can be significant terminology confusion between the words detox, juicing and cleanse. When we hear the word “detox”, we generally think of juicing. A person can detox by juicing, which leads to these words being used interchangeably and with some confusion. However, detoxing and juicing can also be different processes.
Detox is a focus on removing harmful food(s) and/or substances from the diet.
Cleansing is detoxing plus supporting overall wellness of the body and organs.
Juicing is a form of detox.
GET RID OF TOXINS
“Toxins” can be found in air, water and the food we eat. Because we have little control over air quality, and assuming the use of best water sources, food can often be a source of multiple toxins.
Health experts agree on one simple rule: the more processed a food is, the worse it is for human consumption. A natural food is basically any food that we can eat without changing how it exists in nature – i.e. apples, carrots, eggs, some dairy and unprocessed meats. Usually, unprocessed foods do not include toxins and actually provide nutrients enabling our bodies to fight toxins. Processed food is any food that is produced by machines and is has been altered far from its original state. Examples include fast food, deep-fried food, luncheon meat, white sandwich bread, and many snack bars. All of these foods contain many toxins from pesticides, additives, colours and flavours adding to our body’s toxic load.
THE ‘JUICE’ DETOX
Golden Rule of Juicing: When juicing for detox or cleanses, separate vegetable juices from fruit juices, except for apples and carrots, which can be mixed with the opposite category. The reason is simple. Most fruits (except apples) metabolise more quickly than vegetables. To obtain the health benefits from vegetables, do not mix the two. This allows nutrients to be properly and correctly absorbed.
Smoothie vs. Juice: Smoothies are highly recommended, because they include fibre from the fruits and vegetables, as well as the juice. Fibre is essential in removing toxins, promoting growth of a healthy microbiome, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and assists with weight control. Without it, the main intake from fruit juice is sugar. When planning a juice/smoothie detox choose at least 2-3 smoothies a day.
Length of a juice detox: Any detox under 5 days is generally not long enough to effectively remove the body’s excess toxic load. Aim to detox for 5-10 days under the guidance of a health professional.
Starvation: Studies show that most people who under-eat during a juice cleanse significantly slow down their metabolism whilst increasing the inability to lose weight. Detoxing does not equal starvation. Any efficient juice detox can be accompanied by good, whole, natural food. Best practice encourages consumption of raw foods only. Choose 3 small meals per day and snacks, as needed. If fasting is part of the detox process, do so under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
WAYS TO DETOX
Juice/Smoothie + food: Choose a personalized juice/smoothie plan, so the golden rule can be applied. Most juice detox companies offer tailor-made packages. Choose a 5-10 day plan with 3 vegetable and 2 fruit juices/smoothies per day. Eat whole, raw and unprocessed food during the day. Depending on your goals, items such as 1-2 cups of brown rice, 1 cup of beans or lean protein, raw vegetables and ½ cup of almonds with sea salt per day may be appropriate options.
Juice/Smoothie + food + supplements: Follow the above advice and add a good liver cleansing supplement. This will support the liver in removing toxins quickly and thoroughly. Liver cleansing supplements can be bought at any good health store. Adding natural fermented foods such kefir, kombucha or fermented vegetables can rebalance the gut microbiome for an extra kick to remove toxins.
Juice/Smoothie + strict food plan + delivery plans: Health food delivery companies are on the rise in virtually every city. Options in Hong Kong include Eat Right, Paleo Taste, The Awakening and Invisible Kitchen. Each option can prepare and deliver ready to eat healthy meals. Choosing 3 small healthy meals with 3 juices/smoothies (2 vegetable and 1 fruit) per day is a great, easy way to detox.
The good news is that overall detoxing can be a rewarding and a relatively easy undertaking. It is difficult to create a list of the best detox programmes, as most either promote the same ideas or are very restrictive. Detoxing plans done too quickly or that rely on crash dieting can be detrimental to your goals and overall health. Create a balanced detox plan combining food and supplements to maximise the results, increasing its effectiveness for your end goals leaving you feeling lighter, healthier and kickstarting your health in a positive direction!
Tanja Guigon-Rech is Managing Director and certified nutritionist at Nutrition Nation in Hong Kong. You can often find her helping busy professionals, families and individuals transform their kitchens, eating habits and health through nutrition coaching, consulting and lifestyle training.