Although some people advocate fasts in which no foods are consumed for a number of days as a form of detoxification, most natural therapists would consider this approach extreme, and advise against it, especially as such an approach may lead to side effects, and the depletion of important nutrients.
Instead, it is more common for a modern detoxification programme to involve following a pure, healthy diet, while abstaining from cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, junk food, fatty foods and animal products for a short period of time. At the same time, herbal medicines, nutritional supplements, exercise, and other cleansing practices such as saunas and skin exfoliation may be employed.
This is considered to give the body’s organs of elimination (e.g. the liver, bowel, kidneys and skin) an opportunity to flush out stored waste products, and return to functioning more efficiently. The detox is then followed by ongoing adherence to a healthier diet, which is designed to minimise future accumulation of wastes.
Some people find they breeze through a detox programme, while others feel mildly unwell, at least in the early stages. Symptoms may include (but are not limited to):
- Headaches, restlessness and irritability, which may be withdrawal symptoms from caffeine
- Fatigue, which may also be due to caffeine withdrawal, but may also be a consequence of changing the amount of sugar in your diet
- Constipation, flatulence and bloating, especially if the high fibre diet you’re following represents a change from your normal way of eating. This is a temporary problem, and usually passes in a few days. Make sure you drink plenty of water.
- Aches and pains
- Skin rashes and pimples
- A general feeling of being unwell. This may be a consequence of fat-soluble toxins being released from your body’s fat stores