Detox 101

Looking to detox? Find out which detox diet is right for you.

Daily life produces toxins — there’s no way around that. “We’re exposed to extreme amounts of toxins from air pollution, household chemicals, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, processed foods and other things,” says Isabel Clark, R.H.N. The body has mechanisms for eliminating toxins, such as breathing, sweating, urinating and bowel movements, but sometimes it needs a little bit of help.

That help can come in the form of a detox diet or whole body cleanse. “A detox or cleanse will make you feel cleaner, clearer and lighter,” Clark says. It can also jump-start a weight-loss program, help you transition between seasons, regulate digestion and help you identify food allergies or trigger foods. In fact, a detox serves a powerful purpose, says Elson Haas, M.D., author of The New Detox Diet: The Complete Guide for Lifelong Vitality with Recipes, Menus and Detox Plans. “Detoxification is a process to help people heal,” he says.

Here are five detox diets to try. Remember that a detox diet is not long-term healthy diets. And always check with your physician before beginning any diet, especially if you have any health conditions.

1. Simple Fruit and Veggie Detox

Best used for: A quick cleanse of your system; a good beginning detox.

Length: 2-3 days

Clark likes this option because it’s relatively easy to do. “The idea is to give your body a break from processed foods, dairy and animal products,” she says. Processed foods — so prevalent in the American diet — can be full of toxins and chemicals, and it’s a good experiment to see how it feels to avoid them for a few days. Animal products have protein and fat. Although both are essential nutrients, they create more work for your digestive tract, so it makes sense to avoid them while trying to cleanse. You can eat your fruits and veggies raw or cooked, but avoid additives like butter or sugar.

2. Smoothie Cleanse

Best used for: Smoothies provide nourishment during a detox, feeding the cells and tissues well while the body rests the digestive process.

Length: 1 week

This diet consists of fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies made in a blender. It’s actually a very versatile diet, says Haas, because you can make any number of combinations, and even add protein powder, which is especially important if you have higher caloric needs (such as if you’re an athlete). Haas’ basic smoothie formula is 1 cup of fruit juice or milk (preferably nondairy, such as rice milk, soymilk or almond milk) and 1 cup of fruit, either fresh or frozen. In addition to protein powder, you could add things like ground flaxseed, wheat germ, vitamin C or other supplements.

3. Juice Cleanse

Best used for: A deep cleanse that speeds up the rate of toxin clearing; not recommended for people with high caloric needs.

Length: 3-5 days

A deeper cleanse, the juice detox is ideal for people who want to jump-start a weight-loss program. Drinking only nutrient-rich fruit and vegetable juices and vegetable broths can feel surprisingly energizing. An added bonus to this program is that if you’re sick, the nutrients from juice are quickly absorbed and help speed the body’s natural healing process, Haas says. You can use bottled juices, but Haas likes to use a juicer to make fresh juices and create various concoctions (like carrot, celery and lemon). You can also supplement with vegetable soup, or even add a few solid fruits and vegetables to help deal with your hunger. Note: This diet isn’t for meant for active people, so be sure to take it easy while doing it so that your caloric needs aren’t as high.

4. Sugar Detox

Best used for: Abstaining from sugar for a while can help break your sugar addiction. As a result, you’ll consume much less of the sweet stuff and have more energy throughout the day. You’ll also lose weight more easily.

Length: Varies

Cutting out sugar can be very hard emotionally,” Haas says. But it can be an excellent experiment, especially if you feel you have grown too dependent on sugar, which can compromise your body’s ability to fight illness, fill you up with empty calories and leave you feeling sluggish. Haas recommends giving yourself a set amount of time to avoid white sugar, candy and baked goods. Watch for hidden sugars in things like ketchup, salad dressings, lunchmeat and soups, too. Opt instead for fruits (fresh, frozen or unsweetened dried), nuts, beans, whole grains, vegetables and lean proteins. Try it for a few days or a few months, and notice if you feel different.

5. The Hypoallergenic Detox

Best used for: Targeting food allergies and sensitivities.

Length: 1 week to start

Most people aren’t aware that some physical symptoms, such as gastrointestinal problems, hives, swelling, itching and yeast infections, to name a few, may be tied to what they eat, Haas says. The idea behind this detox program is to take a break from certain foods and see what happens. Haas calls wheat, dairy, soy, sugar, peanuts, corn and eggs the “sensitive seven.” He recommends cutting them out for a week, and then slowly reintroducing each to determine your reaction to them.

More detox tips:

  • Detox in the spring, summer and fall, when more fresh produce is available. “Winter is not generally a good time for detoxing because your body is working on rebuilding, rather than cleansing,” Isabel Clark says.
  • Take time to engage in activities that feel cleansing and purifying. “Detoxing is a great time to stay home and do things like clean your closet,” Clark says.
  • Get ample rest when you detox. Keep up with gentle exercise like yoga, but be careful of strenuous exercise because you want your body to focus on cleansing. We love Seane Corn's Detox Flow yoga workout, available on DVD or on
  • Expect that you might not feel very well while on your detox diet, because the toxins are making their way out of the body. But you will feel better after.
  • Keep yourself well hydrated while detoxing, because water naturally flushes toxins.
  • Beware of any detox diet that requires you to invest in pricey supplements. “Cleansing is a natural body function. It doesn’t require a lot of expensive supplements to work,” Clark says.
  • After your detox diet is over, gradually ease back into your normal (or healthier-than-normal) diet.
  • Never do any kind of fast without first talking to your doctor.


Related Articles and Videos: 

How to Detox from Caffeing, Sugar and White Flour in 7 Days

10 Ways to Detoxify Your Body

Video: How to Detox with an Ayurvedic Diet

1-2-3 Detox for Radiance


Detox Solutions: 

D-Tox Foot Spa

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jenboda's picture
User offline. Last seen 5 years 1 day ago. Offline
Joined: 12/03/2008

I really believe that the sugar fast is one of the hardest and yet most rewarding detox programs I have ever attempted. you really see how addicted we are to sugar and how it is in most of what we eat. I highly recommend slowly cutting sugar out over a week or two, starting with soda, white sugar etc and replace these with the healthier sugars found in fresh squeezed juice, fruit, and very dark chocolate. Once these are replaced and doing well then start reducing these as well. It is really lifechanging.


Juice's picture
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Joined: 10/30/2010

I am thinking about detoxing. Has anyone tried wheatgrass juice for detoxing? I heard it is realy good, but I am not sure yet. Thanks. :)

awadds's picture
User offline. Last seen 3 years 13 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 01/20/2011

yes i drink it daily and it works wonders. I wouldn't try only wheatgrass juice for a series of days as it is not recommended. I have a 22 oz bottle of it every day in addition to the water that i drink and I have felt significantly better since starting. (and I definitely notice when I don't have it)

JayneSais's picture
User offline. Last seen 3 years 12 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 01/25/2011

oh my god, the detox did wonders for me, i used to be always tired and just ughh....I feel more centered and healthy.

kangenwaterwoman's picture
User offline. Last seen 3 years 10 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 10/21/2009

The quality of the water we drink, in general, not just during detox, is essential to our health. Most of our body is made of water and it is needed by every cell to perform its functions! Bottled waters are perceived as healthier than tap and filtered water, but actually most are acidic and oxidizing waters, meaning they actually contribute to health problems. In addition, the plastic bottles contain harmful chemicals which can leach into the water. There is a special kind of water called Kangen water, which is alkaline, very anti-oxidant and more absorbable to your body than other waters . This water is produced from tap water using a home device called a water ionizer, which creates these special properties. This technology has been used in Japanese hospitals for over 35 years!

Salsa1's picture
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Joined: 12/15/2011

yes, I love it! I definitely recommend it! =)

jackson26's picture
User offline. Last seen 2 years 16 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/27/2011

Actually i am thinking about detoxing. I am very glad to see such nice information, which I was searching for a long time. It's really good. Thanks....

mani's picture
User offline. Last seen 2 years 7 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 03/02/2012

I started taking green grapes for body detox as I heard that it is very helpful in colon,kidney and liver cleanse. I took it for almost 2 weeks.
It has actually helped me alot. Now I feel better then before.

But I just read in internet that green grapes may cuase some blood related issues. so, we should only take red grapes. is it right?


neel123's picture
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Joined: 04/13/2012

Many people aware of that the liquid diet can be a good way to detox, but it is also the best diet detox if you want to achieve rapid and healthy weight loss. Detox diet menu is the best plan for reducing extra calories and have a good health and fitness.

jaffa's picture
User offline. Last seen 1 year 39 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 06/29/2012

Each pound of body fat is maintained by less than one extra calorie per hour. In general, obesity is not a condition maintained by overeating, obesity is a condition brought about and maintained by eating more calories than the body uses, consistently. Thanks.

theadfordo's picture
User offline. Last seen 1 year 6 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 03/06/2013

I did a cleansing for the first time last week. It was a 9 day cleanse. It was tough at first but I made it through. Lost about 8lbs. The best part was that I now have more energy and I am not as tired.

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