10 things I learned about cleansing from ‘The Detox Diet’

Find out the basic steps to achieving a successful (and worthwhile) cleanse that won't leave you cranky and irritated.

The Detox Diet, Third Edition

For more than 15 years Dr. Elson Haas has been a leading expert in detoxification. Since the first release of The Detox Diet in 1996, he has encouraged people to heal their bodies from the inside out. With a basic and sensible approach to cleansing (no cayenne pepper and maple syrup diets here!) this third installment is a welcome addition to the oversaturated world of health advice.

What we love most about this approach is the ease with which the change starts. This is a common-sense method to freeing your life of unhealthy habits and addictions.

Read on for the 10 most important things we took from The Detox Diet:

1. It’s not about weight loss:
Don’t cleanse to lose weight, cleanse for your health. Dropping a few pounds may be a welcome result, but obsessing over a number on the scale will only discourage you. Make your goal to heal your digestive organs.

2. Have faith in your body: Our bodies are designed to naturally cleanse. The liver is our main detoxification organ and getting it in working order will ensure you’re healthier every day. Giving your body the right environment to heal itself is the first step to a cleaner you.

3. Use common sense: “Diet, exercise, good sleep, stress management and attitudes,” all play a part in our health. You can’t change one aspect of your life and expect the other problems to disappear. Work on a balance to impart positive change overall.

4. Know the signs of toxicity: What’s “normal” to your body may actually be a major sign of unease. Symptoms like fatigue, headache, digestive problems and swollen joints all point to some form of toxicity.

5. Beware of SNACCs: Sugar, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and chemicals are the most common habits we need to break. Getting to the root (emotionally and mentally) of why we rely on some, or all, of these substances sets the path to helping us nix them for good.

6. Have a plan: For some, detoxing is used for a quick jolt of energy during a time of sluggishness. But for many, it’s about ridding themselves of addiction. If you’re detoxing from nicotine, alcohol or recreational drugs ensure you’ve got a diet plan and support system in place. You wouldn’t go on a road trip without a map, so don’t expect to succeed in detox without a strategy.

7. Consider different forms of toxicity: With cellphones, TVs and microwaves, plus exposure to radiation via medical testing and airport trips, our daily electrical interaction is steadily growing. Family and friends can also be toxic. We need to consider external elements when it comes to cleansing as well.

8: Detox at home: Though the idea of flying to a ranch in Arizona to cleanse is attractive, Elson warns against change without context. If you can make change while going about your everyday life you’ll be much likelier to stick with the plan.

9. What you can do right now: Start with the basics. Drink extra water (preferably purified), up your fibre intake and opt for more fruits and vegetables to start the process of elimination in your body today. Start drinking two glasses of water one with the juice of half a lemon before breakfast to rev up cleansing.   

10. Try it for yourself: When asked to prove that it works, Elson gives people the words “experience” and “anecdote” to consider. Instead of medical jargon, he shares personal stories with skeptics. Every person’s journey is different, he says. “Your own personal experience proves or disproves the process to you.”  

The Detox Diet, Third Edition is available now, Random House, $20