Feeling a little toxic? Detoxifying is a great way to cleanse your body and create a fresh, toxic-free you.

Detox your body

Why detox?

Following a detox plan can do wonders to what's left of your body and mind. Detoxifying cleanses the body, re-invigorates the system, provides an energy boost and gets us feeling healthy again.

Even if you're relatively health- conscious, detoxifying once in a while is still important to give your body a rest from chemicals that are caused by inorganic food and the environment.

According to South Australian nutritionist Marilyn Foran, "the idea of a detox is to modify the way we currently eat with the aim of clearing an overload of toxins from the digestive system, circulatory system and other organs or cells in the body."

Benefits of detoxing

Increased alertness, vitality, vigour, improved immunity to infection, higher libido and a younger look.

Exercise and detox

"If the detoxification program is combined with a sensible exercise program, then there may be a reduction in cellulite and a loss of weight," says Marilyn. But getting rid of toxin build-up isn't all fun and games. Detoxifying requires commitment and discipline, so yes, that means looking past the garlic bread, chocolates and caffeine just to name a few of the typically restricted foods.

Side effects

Detox often produces some unpleasant side effects. Sydney naturopath Margaret O'Brien explains that initially people may feel fatigue, nausea and diarrhoea as toxins are expelled from the body. Headaches are also common as our systems go through caffeine and refined sugar withdrawals. The side effects are stronger with more radical detox plans such as juice fasting or eating only brown rice and water. Symptoms also vary according to your diet, living conditions and the amount of toxins you have.

There are many products on the market that promise to clean out your system in a few weeks, give you more energy and improve the function of the kidneys, liver, bowel and stomach. They come in different shapes, sizes and prices, and while there are a few radical programs, others are quite feasible and there are even some you can literally sleep through.

Detox diets

Pharmacy shelves reveal a range of products available for those wanting to embark on a home detox program. One such product is Quick Cleanse, a 15-day program that includes a meal and exercise plan as well as herbal supplements. The program recommends that you avoid meat, animal products, caffeine, alcohol, sugar and processed foods while eating more fruit and vegetables, whole grains and a small portion of fish.

But instead of spending money on home detox programs, Margaret recommends seeking a nutritionist or naturopath who can draw up a personal detox diet according to your individual needs and lifestyle.

"Remember we are all individuals and what suits one person does not necessarily suit another and a detox plan worked out for an individual is clearly more beneficial as it will be designed according to his or her particular needs and health," says Margaret. This way, you'll get an individual eating plan along with cleansing herbs and teas and any other minerals your body needs to detox.

Fasting

One of the more popular forms is the juice fast with various length programs from a few days to a few weeks. These plans can be found on the internet, magazines and books, such as Caroline Wheater's The Juicing Detox Diet. But if you're going to go radical, it's recommended you first consult a naturopath, nutritionist or other health professional before you start.

Retreats

If you want to go cold turkey but don't think you have the will power, you can always head to a fasting camp where you won't have access to a refrigerator. At Detox for Life Health Retreat, guests enjoy plant cleansing and herbal detoxification while fasting on organic fruit and vegetable juices for nine days on the Noosa Coast. For something truly hardcore, head to the infamous fasting retreats in Thailand where you fast without any food - only water and herbal teas, plus a daily colonic irrigation.

Sweating it out with FAR infra-red saunas

Don't confuse these with conventional saunas. FAR infra-red sauna manufacturers say they're the most effective way to get a full body detox. They also claim other benefits such as: stress relief, cellulite and fat reduction (burning 600 calories per 30-minute session). This helps to get rid of stretch marks, acne, rashes, varicose veins, allergies; helps with pain relief, diabetes, blood circulation, menopause, PMS, healing of scar tissue and more. They don't use ultraviolet radiation or any other harmful thing. However, due to the heat, pregnant women and people with multiple sclerosis shouldn't use them. If you have any illnesses, please consult your doctor before using one.

Oriental style

According to Chinese medicine, there are over 60 acupuncture points on the sole of the foot, most of which are reflective zones of our internal organs. That is, a certain point on the foot represents the liver while another reflects the intestines and yet another, the spine, and so on. Chinese medicine practitioners believe the soles of the feet are the best place to remove toxins. To do this, they attach foot patches containing natural ingredients like bark and vinegar that help to draw out waste from the body overnight. By morning, the white patches will have turned grey or even black in colour, indicating the absorption of chemicals from the body.

Read the Detox Rules!>>