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Detox Herbs

The Benefits of Herbal Detox

Detox has been a popular way to help health for scores of years. We understand that too many toxins in the body are going to slow it down and affect health. So we know that measures to promote detox are going to be helpful.

These may take the form of assisting colon detox, helping the liver detox and kidney detox or by helping detox generally – for example through diet.

Many people think of detox in the new year – perhaps thinking of ridding them selves of the excesses of Christmas; or perhaps taking action on a new year’s resolution. But detox can be carried out any time – it maybe better to do it in warmer weather, in fact, especially if some measure of fasting in involved.

A Diet To Help You Detox at Home

If carrying out a detox at home, diet is crucial. What we eat is vitally important to our health.

Minimizing Toxins in the Food We Eat

A great deal of food that we eat contains small amounts of chemicals including pesticide residues, pollutants, and preservatives. These create more work for the detox organs of the body. Organic foods certainly contain fewer of these toxins. Although tiny in amount, these chemicals can accumulate in the body. Some of them unknown to be dangerous; for many others the the long-term effects are just unknown.

For this reason, it is wise to use food grow without chemicals wherever possible. This means either growing food yourself, or obtaining it from a friend with an allotment, or buying organic food. At least you can then be sure that your food prepared at home will have fewer chemicals in it.

I realise this is an added expense; but it is definitely worthwhile trying to economize in other areas so that you can use as much organically produced food at home as possible.

Home Detox – Choosing Which Foods to Eat

My general recommendations for a home detox diet – and for health in general, are;

  • Reduce starchy foods to a minimum
  • Eat reasonable amounts of protein
  • Eat large amounts of vegetables
  • Eat a large proportion of those vegetables raw (- unless you HATE salads)
  • Eat small amounts of raw fruit – especially berries
  • Avoid fruit juices except in small quantities
  • Use cold pressed olive oil to dress salads (it’s green, not the yellow type, which is heat-pressed)

Cooking Temperatures

If cooking food, use low temperatures in general – steam, boil, poach, cook in a low oven – 250 degrees C, gas mark 1 1/2. In other words, avoid frying, grilling (broiling), barbecues, roasting

  • Avoid dairy foods – milk, cheese, butter
  • Drink water, herb teas and green tea
  • There is no need to be an extremist: it’s what you do 90% of the time that affects your diet most. Any improvement will help your body’s natural detox functions. But – be happy while following this programme at home!

Now let’s consider the main categories of food; proteins, starches, fats, vegetables, fruit and how they can affect detox.


Proteins and starches (next section) produce the most acid by-products in the body. These make detox more desirable, as the body is slightly alkaline.

Meat and fish consist mainly of protein; nuts and seed contain a mixture of protein and fat; beans and lentils contain a mixture of protein and starch; vegetables (and mushrooms) contain small amounts of protein; fruit contains tiny amounts of protein.

Protein is essential for the structures of the body – eg cell walls; also for making the enzymes which enable millions of reactions which keep us alive. Excess protein can be broken down and used for energy.

A combination of protein and salad or protein and vegetables is the best meal – probably for lunch and dinner.

Examples: a choice of protein – fish, chicken, beans (eg lentil dahl, bean casserole, humus), aubergine dip, egg, cottage cheese, nuts – with salad or vegetables.

Starchy Food

Starchy food includes the sugars – sugar itself, honey, maple syrup – as well as rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, and anything made from grains, including wheat, corn, barley or millet. Beans and pulses are also fairly high in starch, but not as high as the grains. Grains tend to be about 80% starch and 10% protein. Beans tend to be about 70% starch and 20% protein. A slave to the

Though we have bean eating starchy foods – particularly grains – for centuries, it is interesting to reflect that, prior to the agricultural revolution – when we started growing grains – are intake of starch was very much less. The problem with starchy food is that it is nearly 100% sugar. It doesn’t taste sweet, because it’s not simple sugar. Nevertheless it is still sugar.

Sugar creates tremendous problems for the body – especially when eaten in large amounts. This increases the need for detox. Some of the major problems caused by excessive sugar include;

  • Obesity
  • Glycation – the formation of wrinkles in the skin and throughout the body
  • Generalized inflammation – which makes you more prone to heart disease among other things
  • Metabolic Syndrome – that combination of obesity and diabetes, as well as other ailments, which is affecting millions in the developed countries.

These elements won’t be covered in depth here, but links above show where you can read more.

Suffice it to say that for good health, all dietary sugar – from all starchy sources – should be minimized in the diet.

There is already a fair bit of starch/sugar present in food – beans are around 10% starch, fruit is very high in sugars, any sweet fruit/vegetable is obviously high in sugar – think of carrots, peas, sweet corn. So, to reduce starch/sugar intake to a minimum, it is easiest to avoid rice/bread/pasta/potatoes except occasionally.

This is a huge change in diet for most people; but if you read the evidence of the harm caused by a high intake of starchy food in the diet you will come to the same conclusion.

In fact, a diet based on protein and vegetables – preferably raw – is extremely tasty, and easy to make. It is also quite easy to stick to at most restaurants if eating out.


There is a lot of dispute over how bad saturated fat really is for you; there is even a camp which insists that cholesterol being bad for the heart is a myth.

However, best to stick to the general recommendations of:

  • Reducing saturated fats to a minimum – perhaps 10g a day. Frying or roasting food makes the fats saturated – even if they weren’t before. Fat in meat and any baked goods – cakes, biscuits – is saturated. Cheese contains up to 30g per 100g of saturated fat – read the label. Cottage cheese is very low in fat, so not so bad.
  • Use cold pressed olive oil for dressings and cooking (eg, adding to soups; pouring on fish before cooking it, covered, in a low oven for a hour (250 degrees C avoids glycation)
  • Do not use other oils, such as corn oil, sunflower oil, soya oil – which are high in Omega 6 fats. Omega 6 fats are ‘pro-inflammatory’. They are implicated in heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses. Whereas Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory. Olive oil does not contain much omega 3 – but neither does it contain much omega 6; it’s fats are mainly mono-saturated, which are neither type. Hence it is nearly neutral with regard to omega 3/omega 6 – whereas other common oils are definitely in the ‘high omega 6’ camp – and are bad for us.


Vegetables are a wonderful source of nourishment for the body. If eaten raw they are much richer in nutrients. Vegetables contain huge amounts of nutrients – essential minerals, vitamins. If they are raw, they contain valuable enzymes and fibre (both destroyed by heating).

Some people will feel that raw food is just not good for them. This is different from someone who is just not in the habit of eating raw food – they just have to try and make an effort. For the people I am talking about, when they eat raw food they just don’t feel good – it doesn’t suit their body. The Chinese call this type of person ‘spleen deficient’. Eating raw food in any quantity will further weaken their spleen – or digestive capacity.

If you are one of a few people, then just try cooking your vegetables as lightly as possible.

Apart from this, if you can eat 75 or 80% of your vegetables as raw that will be fantastic. Even in winter, you can eat a salad to accompany warming suit, or other warm food.


Fruit is obviously high in sugar because it taste sweet. The compensation is that it contains nutrients which is difficult to get anywhere else. Particularly beneficial are the anthocyanins found in the berry family – blackberries, blueberries, loganberries, raspberries, strawberries.

So do eat fruit – but in moderation. And favour the berries. Avoid cooked fruit where possible – again, this releases the sugar for quick absorption and breaks down the valuable fibre.

Fruit juice is almost pure sugar water. If you drink this, have very small amounts.

The Speed of Sugar Absorption

The faster the sugar in the foods you eat gets into the bloodstream, the worse it is for your body. Then, the problems specified above are more likely to happen – obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, diabetes, heart disease.

This is okay; we can take action to slow down the absorption of sugar.

Assuming we have cut right down on high starch foods – rice, potatoes, bread and pasta – we can slow sugar absorption in the following ways:

  • When we eat fruit, eat whole fruit, don’t drink juice
  • When choosing starchy food, choose food low on the GI index. This is food which absorbs relatively slowly, and so spikes blood sugar levels less. Porridge oats are an example of a low GI starchy food.

Diet to Help Home Detox

As a naturopath, I have given you here a diet for life – a diet that supports a healthy lifestyle, and helps to minimize the toxins produced by the body.

In this way, as fewer toxins are produced, your body has fewer to deal with, and it can do so more efficiently.

This whole dietary approach may be a bit much for you! Don’t panic!

If you can do everything here, I think you’ll find it good for your detox at home. If you can’t, just adopt some of my recommendations. Review in a month or two and add some more if you can.

My top recommendations?

Increase the amount of raw food and salads in the diet, and reduce the amount of bread, pasta, potatoes and rice in the diet.

If you want to detox at home, the dietary information given here is a great place to start. Good luck with your detox.