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Demystifying ‘Detox’: What it Is and What it Isn’t

by Elizabeth Montgomery(more info)

listed in detoxification, originally published in issue 215 - July 2014

Toxicity is a major concern for everyone. Given the current state of our planet and increased coverage from mainstream media, people are rightly becoming concerned with the way in which they treat their bodies. Modern life inevitably entails high levels of toxins, whether it be in our food chain or in our environment, and countering this universal predicament should be a priority for everyone. However, this process is not so easy. Despite what magazine articles suggesting miraculous one-off detox treatments may lead you to believe, the reality of true detoxification is vastly different.

As someone who has concerned themselves with this topic for quite some time, it is disconcerting to see the exaggerated promises disseminated by popular ‘health experts’ about detoxification. The general aim of these articles is good, but for truly beneficial results, long-term effort is necessary: the toxin removal process can range in time from several weeks to many years. Short detoxes should not be viewed as conclusive treatments, rather, they are stepping stones towards a healthy body.

There are many different detox approaches available. Certain practitioners allow vegetarian meals, others advocate drinking only juices and water, while some insist that pure water fasting is the way to go. Whatever the detox, the goal is to give the body a break from its habitual daily intake of food and drink, which in turn, allows the removal of toxins.

Demystifying Detox

Let's take a look at what a short detox is realistically able to achieve:

  • Break daily addictive habits;
  • Give the digestive system a rest;
  • Relieve the body/mind complex from the usual daily stresses;
  • Allow the body to begin the release of its internal toxic congestion;
  • Enable the body to catch up on rest and sleep.

With adequate preparation, these short detoxes can be relatively easy to undertake and extremely beneficial. However, they must be incorporated into a long-term health program, otherwise it is not possible to achieve the ongoing detoxification required in today’s highly polluted environment. Certain guidelines must be consistently adhered to for the release of the toxicity that is constantly being put into our systems.

Traditional naturopaths, and nutritional therapists understand that the body is constantly striving to cleanse throughout its 24 hour daily cycle. For health maintenance, the body must be given the sufficient nutrients and lifestyle support for its internal housekeeping. This is essential for the fortification of the major organs of detoxification: the liver, kidneys, bowel, lymph and skin. Over time, certain toxins accumulate within the fat cells to protect the body from their toxicity. This can be seen quite explicitly during a detox embarked upon without adequate preparation. If the body is placed on a cleansing detox without preparation and support, then when these toxins are released out of the cells and into the bloodstream, the liver (the body's main filter organ) often becomes overwhelmed. This gives rise to a myriad of uncomfortable symptoms, which may include headaches, excess anger, itchy skin, breakouts, or nausea. Not only does this signal that the body is struggling to release toxins, but it can also mean that it's not possible to completely remove them from the system.

The main way to support the regular detoxification process is to greatly reduce acid forming and congesting food and drink. These include: glutenous grains, animal products (including dairy), processed foods, refined sugars, black tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, and alcohol. Through this, we deal with the primary sources of acidity, congestion, mucous, and inflammation. This enables the body and detoxification organs to release toxic waste build-up.

The primary foods to include in the diet are ones that are organic, alkalizing and healing to the body. Examples include: vegetables (both raw and lightly cooked), vegetable juices, sprouts, alternative grains (like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat), pulses, seeds, and almonds. Plenty of pure filtered water is also a necessity.

In addition to these core lifestyle requirements, these detoxification tips are valuable aspects of any long-term plan:

  1. Drinking organic green vegetable juices: Internal toxicity equals high levels of acidity! Green juices are important for their high chlorophyll content, and at the centre of each chlorophyll molecule is a magnesium ion. Magnesium is a very alkalizing mineral and helps to neutralize acidity in the blood and tissues. Furthermore, juicing helps the body to 'pre-digest' vegetables into the system. This is important because it still enables the digestive tract to rest, and yet ensures that most of the nutrients are absorbed;
  2. Adding cleansing and liver supporting herbs during detoxes: such as milk thistle or dandelion. These are very common western herbs, which are very effective in helping to the liver to detoxify;
  3. Exercise! This is key when it comes to detoxification. It enhances circulation, lymph flow, cellular oxygenation, along with releasing numerous toxins through the sweat glands. Power walking in nature, or short intensive interval training circuits, help to fast track fat reduction and thus eliminate stored toxicity;
  4. Zeolite supplementation: This is the 'new kid on the block' in recent years. It is known to greatly help remove high levels of toxins through a process known as chelation. Zeolite attracts numerous toxins including heavy metals and helps to usher them out of the system;
  5. Colonic hydrotherapy: The bowel is one of the bodies major routes of elimination and many experience constipation on a regular basis. This is a valuable tool for the removal of the deepest toxins of the colon. Especially beneficial during a detox protocol.

Remember, the aim of a detox is to help assist the body in its release of toxins and set back its natural cleansing ability. This means that it can then clean more efficiently on a daily basis.

I know that these lifestyle and dietary changes may seem difficult to embrace. However, health and vibrancy are within our reach! It all boils down to our daily choices. When correctly applied, a short detox can greatly assist in a fast track to greater health. It is the first step on the path to true detoxification and wellness. Why not try it!


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About Elizabeth Montgomery

Elizabeth Montgomery Dip NN MBANT NTCC is a London-based Holistic Nutritional Therapist who has been studying and exploring; nutrition, eastern medicine, astrology and medicine way healing practices for many years. To arrange a private consultation please contact Elizabeth via

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