Detox: dirty secrets & how to do it right


Edita Vilkeviciute in The Sunday Telegraph March 2015 (photography: Dan Martensen, styling: Clare Richardson)
I wanted to talk about detox today - the one when you mostly drink liquids and give upfood for days.  Sounds familiar? I am sure you've tried it at some point. I did. Twice. My first time was while  studying nutrition - back then the solids were still a part of the game. The "liquid" version happened a couple of years ago - I just wanted to experience it  (because as a therapist you do end up using yourself as a lab hamster once in a while).

Over the last few years detox has become somewhat of a trend, a subject to discuss with your girlfriends, a fashionable diet to follow and even a profitable business venture. Sometimes the process is also referred to as "cleanse" because it is believed to rid the body of toxins. Purify it, so to speak. But while the substances you'd put into your body are often the healthiest things one can think of, the fast itself - isn't.

Metaphorically speaking, detoxing is very much like going out barefoot after accumulating too many pairs of shoes, none of which fits you properly or, even worse, gives you blisters. Instead of being sensible - waiting for the blisters to heal and wearing some comfortable footwear - you decide to forget about the shoes and let your poor feet touch the ground, which is certainly very natural, but, lets be honest, not particularly comfortable or practical thing to do.

Detox is the same - a girl eats a lot (or all the wrong stuff), gains a bit of weight, feels pretty rough - you name it - but instead of going back to clean moderately sized meals she deprives herself from food completely or as much as she possibly can. When asked, she often says it is to compensate for those sinful moments. Or simply because she wants to get into her favourite skinny jeans or teeny-tiny bikini.

What she forgets are the good old basics of human anatomy and the fact that the body has natural ability to to distinguish between the good stuff and the toxins and detox itself by using specific enzymes and systems.

Industrie #6 2013 (photography: Lachlan Bailey, styling: Clare Richardson)
Your role here is to be sensible when it comes to food and lifestyle choices as well as supplying materials to support the liver, skin, lungs and digestive tract, so they can focus on their jobs of protecting you from the harsh environment, by-products of metabolism, diet related mishaps, nutrient deficiencies and chemicals found in skincare, make-up and household products.

Thinking that drinking juices (and taking some mass produced supplement programme) is enough to fix every problem under the sun and speed up the detoxification process is a big, huge, massive mistake and here's why...

* A typical detox can be more harmful for the body than days worth of over indulging. 
* Detoxification cannot be hurried up - it is simply not going to happen
* Starving and fasting will affect your blood sugar levels - why do you think people often complain of feeling dizzy and get mood swings, headaches and cravings? Plus, any blood sugar imbalances can affect your ability to lose or maintain weight.
* Dramatic reduction of food and specific nutrients can affect your thyroid and, as a result, metabolism.
* The lack of protein will have a negative impact on the liver as it cannot function without sufficient quantities of this essential nutrient.
* Liquid fasts and cleanses do not supply enough fibre to maintain healthy digestion resulting in toxic build-up.
* Many toxins are fat soluble, thus they "live" within the fat tissue. When the fat is lost too quickly as a result of detoxification plan, all those toxins are released to remain in the body...
* Quick fixes never work long term.
* Perceiving a typical detox as health kick can, in fact, form an unhealthy behaviour when it comes to eating and making food choices in the future.

So what a girl to do? First of all, being realistic about the reasons for detox. Frequent over indulgences, too much alcohol or sugar, smoking, the need for quick weight loss are the signs that it is not the fasting you need to think of, but the eating and life style habits that may need a make-over. Then do it sensibly, step-by-step, moulding and adjusting to suit your life.

Simple nutrition tips and best foods for healthy detox and liver cleanse / via fashioned by love, british fashion blog
If you slip once in a while, because we all do, stop yourself from stressing out - if you care about nourishing the body properly most of the time, it will be able to deal with occasional off days - just return to your normal diet, add a few extra salads and some raw vegetable juices, but forget about starving yourself.

If you believe that you are so "toxic" that your body cannot cope with the load - see a nutritionist. There are several tests that can be done to determine whether or not specific plan is required. And if it is, then the recommendations will be focused on you and you alone to make it safe and effective.

In the meantime, follow my tips below and start a new chapter of life -  less toxic, more beautiful and simplified to the core. 

You can use them as a 2-week plan, or as long as you like (after a month or two introduce suggested dairy options and some rye bread - it's good to have a variety, flavours and extra nutrients).

* Go organic - it's frightening how much pesticides, toxins and hormones are found in non-organic food these days. I won't go into details, but will mention, as a part of girl-to-girl conversation, that those chemicals do play havoc with your hormones and increase chances of weight gain (yes, I am such a delightful messenger!).

* Start your day with a teaspoon of raw virgin organic coconut oil. It is such a fantastic tonic for the liver as well as digestive aid. If you want to commit even further - follow with a glass of warm water with a pinch of turmeric, ginger (grate a thumb-size into a paper towel, squeeze the juice out), lemon (1/2 of small lemon, squeezed) and 1/2 tsp raw honey (honey can stimulate one of the specific liver enzymes that only "responds" to certain foods).

* Drink plenty of water - 1.5-2 liters daily is the goal (you may need a little more if you live somewhere hot, exercise, have a fever, pregnant or had an upset stomach. Other reason is eating too much protein, but we aren't going to do that, are we?) Plain filtered water is best, but if you are a newbie add cucumber slices, a little bit of lemon juice or replace 500ml with herbal teas such as mint, chamomile, red bush, hibiscus or rosehip. If you exercise, pure coconut water post-work out is another good addition.

* Avoid sugar & artificial sweeteners - follow the tips on how to quit sugar.

* Reduce your caffeine intake. Start by getting rid of caffeinated soft drinks if you have them, but be prepared to battle the urge to grab one as they are a bit like a drug for the brain. Slowly reduce your coffee intake down to 1-2 cups of organic fresh coffee daily - once there decide if you want to quit non-stop or stick with the quantities, both options are perfectly fine. Chocolate, black and green tea are also sources of caffeine, but I believe that they are full of goodness - go with organic, use in moderation, say 2-3 cups of tea daily and 20-30g of dark chocolate.

* Remember to have protein. Skip red meat completely for at least 2 weeks. Choose wild (or organic) fish, eggs, chicken, turkey, beans, lentils, nuts and moderate amounts of tofu (2-3 times a week is enough). Making a daily protein shake with raw rice protein powder is also a wonderful idea -  it is hypoallergenic and a natural cleanser and detoxifier for the body tissues (choose Pulsin brown rice protein or Sunwarrior protein powder (after a month you can play with flavoured Sunwarrior options if you like)

Simple nutrition tips and best foods for healthy detox and liver cleanse / via fashioned by love, british fashion blog
* Skip the dairy for 1-2 weeks and replace with home-made almond milk, coconut milk (sugar and carrageenan free) and coconut yoghurt, but forget about soy "dairy". You do not need to stop eating dairy all together afterwards - just switch to goats, sheep or buffalo products and keep some of the non-dairy favourites, too.

* Go gluten-free. You can do it for a week, two or as long as you like. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, kamut, spelt, barley and rye and can also hide under the names "maltodextrine", "dextrine", "dextrose" or "modified food starch". Remember that the gluten-free alternatives must be of natural origin (i.e. grown as nature intended) as the supermarkets will try to sell you all sorts of junk marketing it as gluten-free.
Your choices are oats (some oats are made in factories dealing with gluten, but unless you are gluten-intolerant, don't worry about that - or look for oats marked as "gluten-free"), millet, brown rice, quinoa and buckwheat.

* Include sources of beneficial fats and oils: EV olive oil, hempseed oil, raw virgin coconut oil, avocado, raw nuts and seeds. You can also use clarified butter for cooking - best to make it at home, though.

* Have at least one raw salad daily and include vegetables into every main meal and one of two snacks (if you need snacks). 

* Every day choose a few options from this list of foods that are particularly beneficial for the liver:
apples (contain pectin that bind with toxins in the digestive tract, thus improving detoxification)
apricots (provide fibre to reduce toxic load as well as beta-carotene essential for the healthy liver)
artichokes (improve natural liver detoxification and promote regeneration of liver cells)
avocado (source of essential fatty acids, lonelier acid, B vitamins, vitamin E and potassium)
banana (supports healthy digestion, provides fibre and potassium)
beetroot (contains betaine essential for normal liver function, protects liver cells from damage)
berries (one of the best and most delicious sources of vitamin C, antioxidants and fibre)
broccoli (source of DIM or 3,3'-Diindolylmethane, a compound that helps the liver excrete excess oestrogen, whilst also proving vitamin C, without which the liver cannot work efficiently)
cabbages, collard greens, kale and Brussel sprouts (improve natural detoxification and are great sources of vitamin C)
cranberries (improve kidney function and detoxification; additionally may also fight bad bacteria)
garlic (a natural antibiotic and antiviral aid, it contains sulphur compounds essential for detoxifying toxic metals such as mercury)
grapefruit (improves liver detoxification, contains protein compounds that help lower cholesterol and provides plenty of vitamin C - please remember that if you are over 40, use certain medications (check with your doctor) or had cancer, forgo this option)
onions & leeks (also a good source of sulphur)
oranges and lemons (one of the best sources of pectin and vitamin C)
papaya (a fantastic digestive aid, source of antioxidants and fiber)
parsley (source of vitamin C, bioflavonoids, minerals, chlorophyll - fantastic liver aid)
pineapple (contains bromeline that improves digestion)
radish (may improve digestion and support liver detoxification)
turmeric (stimulates gall bladder action, improves bile flow and is also anti-inflammatory and anti-viral)
watercress (rich in sulphur and beta-carotene (vitamin A))
watermelon (natural diuretic, supports kidney function, may help with kidney stones, also provides vitamin C, beta-carotene, antioxidants and fibre)

Naturally, play with other delicious vegetables and fruits - eat a rainbow, feel the happy endorphins inside as you do.

Simple nutrition tips and best foods for healthy detox and liver cleanse / via fashioned by love, british fashion blog
Additionally, remember about daily body brushing, walks, baths with Himalayan pink salts, switching to natural and organic skin care, a little medication now and then, fresh air, plenty of sleep, positive emotions and plenty of love for your body - it is the only one you've got and made of what you put in.

Edita Vilkeviciute in Elle France April 2013 (photography: Jan Welters) / fashioned by love
Photo source: Edita Vilkeviciute in The Sunday Telegraph March 2015 (photography: Dan Martensen, styling: Clare Richardson), Industrie #6 2013 (photography: Lachlan Bailey, styling: Clare Richardson), Elle France April 2013 (photography: Jan Welters), shutterstock


  1. You know also many about food, dear Natalia and I agree absolutely to what you wrote here! My personal solution is to eat fresh and healthy product, regularly meals, doing moderate sport - and no alcohol and seldom sweets :) And I have to say I feel well! Happy weekend!
    xx from Germany/Bavaria, Rena

  2. This has to be the most useful and extensive guide I've ever read on this topic! Thank you for all of the tips, I try to live a fairly healthy lifestyle and so I've bookmarked this for future reference! Have a lovely weekend :)

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice


  3. This is so informative! I've done a few juice cleanses, and they were horrible. Eating healthier is a much better way to go :)

  4. Очень полезная и интересная статья. Спасибо

  5. Действительно, тема детокса в последнее время стала супермодной. Тут и там предлагаются программы детоксикации организма в домашних условиях. Если честно, я никогда этим не увлекалась. Я просто предпочитаю вегетарианскую пищу, овощи и фрукты. Мы живем в такое время когда уже ни в сем не можешь быть уверен, питаясь даже "условно" полезной пищей мы не застрахованы от всех этих антибиотиков и химикатов которые используются при производстве ее. Печально, на самом деле.
    Кстати, статья how to quit sugar для меня особенно актуальна! Я сахарный наркоман:(

  6. so cool photos ;-)

    new post

  7. Thanks for the great post!!! Love reading about nutrition.

  8. This is such a helpful and informative post! I've never been the type of person to go on a juice 'cleanse', even I know that's not a good idea. If I've been overindulging I definitely cut back in the right way, like you've outlined above. I think I need to try and eat some of your liver friendly snacks!

    Tara x

  9. This is such a great read! Very lovely photos too. Happy Monday dear! :)

    Facebook / Bloglovin

  10. Great advice! I'd much rather prefer to do minor adjustments (inspired by your suggestions) than going on a radical detox.

  11. Important helpful Post ,great Work!

    lovely Greetings <3

  12. What a smart, detailed and well balanced post! I am so glad you shared specific suggestions for cleansing the body on a full time bases and not as a fad. I have to take some toxic meds for an Autoimmune disease , so this piece is truly useful and appreciated. Thanks so much!
    xx, Elle

  13. hear hear for avoiding the temporary cleansing. such truly great advice,