Detox demystified

What it really means to help your body shed its toxins

There are many methods that claim to help your body flush out accumulated toxins, from pure starvation and juice-only diets to colonic hydrotherapy using organic coffee. They all promise to eliminate toxins from your body, help you lose weight and make your skin glow. But do they really?

‘Pick a different colour of the rainbow. It’s like having a different batch of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals each day.’ ILLUSTRATION © COSBISIMAGES/PROFILE

Eve Persak, a registered dietitian and wellness consultant specialising in clients with complex dietary and gastrointestinal disorders said that while detoxification can be beneficial for the body, there are many myths surrounding it.

First of all, weight loss and detoxification are two separate topics. However, when you are cleansing, weight might come off as a result. That does not mean one should embark on a detox journey hoping to lose weight only, or that detox is a sure path to a slimmer body.

Moreover, not all detox regimens available on the internet or in magazines really help you improve your health - on the contrary. Not going on a detox diet does not mean your body will be full of nasty toxins.

"Our body is beautifully designed to clean itself, but because the environment is dirtier and our diet becomes more processed and less natural, things start to build up over time. The body is always doing a bit of cleaning but it can't keep up with what we're getting in," explained Persak.

As hard as we all try to make good food choices, unhealthy things still creep into our diet because we all have little pleasures every now and then. We might have a cocktail, extra sweets, desserts or processed foods. When we're busy and stressed out, we tend to reach out for those items. Persak explained that when the input outnumbers the output, the toxins gradually accumulate in the body, leading to poor health and a slowing down of some systems in the body. This is where a cleansing experience can help.

Persak defined cleansing as a way of giving the body tools, time and energy to do the deep cleaning. From a nutritional standpoint, 10% of the energy is spent digesting the food and absorbing the nutrients. When we simplify our diet and remove anything that is difficult to digest, or anything that could be irritating, we are able to borrow some of that energy and give that energy to other parts of our body - the kidney, the liver and the lymphatic system - so they can get the job done more effectively.

So, what is the right way to cleanse the body? With so much information out there, it can be confusing. Persak pointed out that actually, a lot of it is misinformation.

"Some of the information does have some truth but it's worded in a way that can be misleading, or they take a small bit of truth and go extreme," she said.

The key to detoxifying the body is to take a gentle but nutritional approach, and never to go extreme. It is better to get advice from a nutritionist or a doctor because the right detox treatment for each person is different. Your health goals, medical concerns, taste preferences and physical activities should all play a part in determining the right approach.

"Have a custom-fit experience so that the cleansing matches your body and you know it'll be safe and effective," Persak recommended. She said it is quite surprising to see what some people put themselves through when it comes to detoxification. Some of the methods she has seen on the internet are quite troublesome, especially when the recommendations seem really aggressive.

"Some of us are very depleted and we're fragile. When we intervene and do things that are very aggressive, it doesn't quite match. If someone in your family is exhausted, you wouldn't tell him or her to go run a marathon or drink something that would upset the stomach. You wouldn't do that to someone else, so why should you do it to yourself?" she said. The best way to cleanse your body is through small, sustainable changes, such as changing from having desserts after dinner every day to just a few times a week, because it is more realistic than planning not to have desserts at all for life. Another recommended method is the drink a lot of fresh juices to keep the body hydrated enough to flush out the toxins naturally, as well as to supply the body with enough nutrients to function well.

When it comes to the right juice, be as diverse as possible to get all the nutrients. While green juices are very popular right now, and seem to agree with the veggies-are-good-for-you trend, there are actually so many colours to fruits and vegetables.

"Our body requires all of them. You can each day pick a different colour of the rainbow. It's like having a different batch of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals each day, and that way you make sure your body doesn't miss anything," Persak said.

Eve Persak.

How to make healthy choices

1. Eat from the earth

Stick to foods that are more natural and less processed to avoid chemicals.

2. Watch your whites

White bread, white pasta and white rice can be bad if you consume too much of it. High in calories but not so high in nutrients, the sugar content of these items takes your blood sugar on a rollercoaster ride, leaving you hungry for more.

3. Read the labels

Know what's inside the food that you're about to eat. The healthiest foods have the fewest ingredients. The names that you can't pronounce and sound like a chemistry experiment are usually the ones that you should be cautious about.

4. Slow down

Taking time to slow down and breathe is a very cleansing experience. Just to have a chance to pause instead of being on fast forward is detoxifying enough for the mind.

5. Find what works for you

Your approach to healthy living should depend on your schedule and what you can make time for, instead of being determined by health articles.

The Metropolitan Hotel in Bangkok has recently announced a range of new cleansing programmes as part of its annual Wellness Month this September.

The new programmes range from a 90-minute ''Express Cleanse'' to a comprehensive ''Complete Day Cleanse'' and feature combinations of treatments, cleansing juices and meals to meet the needs of every individual.

Visit, or call 02-625-3355 for reservations.

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