Make a clean start with a detox diet

Everyone seems to be on a detox diet this month
Everyone seems to be on a detox diet this month
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Detox is the buzzword this January, but what exactly does it mean? Catherine Scott investigates the body cleansing diets.

BE it nothing but salad, special shakes or just fruit juice it seems everyone is on a detox diet this month.

Fruit smoothies

Fruit smoothies

And if you consider the average person in the UK reportedly consumes around 6,000 calories on Christmas Day, not to mention all those mince pies and eggnogs beforehand, it’s not surprising.

Detoxing may seem like a recent celeb-fuelled phenomenon, or just a fancy word for dieting, but that’s not really the case. Celebrities have no doubt helped make the detox more mainstream, but many of the principles and methods can be traced back thousands of years, for instance in Ayurvedic Indian and Chinese medicine.

The Ancient Egyptians were fans of colonic irrigation, and fasting has been around since the dawn of time, for both religious and health reasons.

While weight loss is often cited as a key motivation, and indeed one of the rewards, detox devotees will tell you the benefits are far wider.

As the name suggests, the basic principle is to eliminate toxins – chemicals absorbed through food and drink, cosmetic and cleaning products, the atmosphere around us – from the body. Methods of achieving this range from more extreme (like 10-day liquid-only fasts) to moderate three or seven-day plans, with specific food types (such as refined sugars, dairy and junk foods), alcohol and caffeine banned.

“The key principles for me are to clean the system,” says Fiona Robertson, 48, who runs detox holidays at Retreat Biarritz ( “Firstly by returning to a simple cleansing diet, introducing more vegetables and fruits in the way of juices.

“Secondly to clean the digestive system and re-set your body’s way to eliminate old waste and toxins from you on a cellular level. Once you eliminate toxins and old waste successfully, your skin will glow and your eyes will sparkle; your insides are the barometer for what you see and how you feel on the outside.”

James Griffiths, founder of Wild Training (, a fitness franchise which also runs retreats incorporating exercise, detox and relaxation, is another advocate.

“The first week (of our food plan) is what we call our elimination plan,” explains Griffiths, 26. “It removes all the bad stuff from people’s diets that slow their metabolisms down, makes them store fat and reduces energy levels.

“Detoxing does work but there are healthy ways to reduce the level of toxins in your body and other more dangerous strategies,” he adds. “Your liver deals with a lot of toxins and can swell up to four times its normal size if we consume the wrong nutrition. Once your liver can’t take anymore, your body starts storing toxins you can’t process in your bum, thighs and, most often, abdominal area. If you reduce or cut out alcohol, caffeine and refined sugars, you might feel heavy for a day or two, depending on how bad you normally are, but before long you will feel awesome. Clear head, better sleeps, more energy, clearer skin and eyes. You can also look at reducing dairy and grain intake as these foods can often slow down your digestion because we aren’t very good at digesting them.”

A GP-led weight management programme is being launched in Wetherby that aims to provide an easy to follow diet plan starting with a ‘Clean9athon’ challenge across the region which already has 200 participants.

Dr Gill Wilson is leading the Nutri-Lean programme which includes an initial Clean9 plan: “The first nine days kick-starts people into healthy eating, improving their lifestyle and feeling better about themselves. This is especially relevant at this time of year. The on-going programme then helps people to develop and maintain healthy habits.”

The Clean9 includes a shake, three supplements and a 600 calorie meal. It uses aloe vera as a key ingredient. The programme will have support from professionals including a physiotherapist specialising in musculoskeletal conditions, counsellors and motivational specialists plus input from Dr Wilson. The Clean9 costs £119 and those interested can join the Clean9athon Challenge in January; call 0788 4315096.

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