Post from the Past: The Anti-Detox (Detoxing without Detoxing)

Original post date 12/1/08 on


Detoxing, depending on who you talk to, is either a great way to clean out your body or else unnecessary and even harmful. Regardless of medical fact, drinking lemon water or eating raw vegetables only for two weeks doesn’t sound all that appealing, especially at this time of year when it’s cold outside and there are parties to crash.

I spoke to Janine Rossol, a Certified Holistic Health and Nutritional Counselor, and the founder of Positively Well here in Charleston. She gave me some good advice on detoxing that confirmed my own very nonmedical but necessarily realistic opinion: the best detox is the implementation of some easy changes that are simply the result of awareness.

1. Drink more water.

Depending on how active you are (more exercise=more water) and how much caffeine you consume (it takes 2 cups of water to rehydrate after 1 cup of caffeinated beverage) it’s a good idea to drink about 64 ounces of water per day.

Janine recommends a pre-breakfast detox beverage of warm water with juice from ½ a lemon and a dash of cayenne pepper.

2. Eat less.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I can’t do it either. But…if you think about increasing your life span and reducing cancer risk, this sounds like a better and better idea.

Brad Pilon of EatStopEat promotes fasting twice a week to not only lose weight but also prompt a variety of health benefits. I highly recommend his ebook.

Janine recommends cooking at home more often as a great way to eat less. You get smaller portions and less processed foods and preservatives, and you can implement some new ingredients like the ones below.

3. Eat more fiber.

I think we all are familiar with this one. Instead of white flour products (bread, pasta, etc.) and white rice, go for whole wheat and brown rice. There are some other fun grains that aren’t too scary; I like spelt for its nutty flavor, as well as millet, quinoa, and amaranth, which contain B vitamins. Be careful even with whole grain varieties of bread, however; many of them contain high fructose corn syrup.

Dark, leafy greens like kale are the best vegetables. Banish thoughts of soggy collard greens and check out my kale and rainbow chard recipe on the September 25 blog. Or add them to soup to make them more palatable; has a brief article and some great recipes.

Availability is also key. If I have Oreos or Doritos in my house, I will eat them even though they make me feel disgusting afterward. But if I have celery sticks, I’ll at least eat those on the way to the chips.

Popcorn is a way to get some fiber that isn’t too healthy, but do get the natural kind, not that fake butter stuff. Air-popped or Newman’s Own is always good, and Orville Redenbacher has a natural brand. But don’t overdo it; too much can be hard on your digestive system. Speaking of digestive systems…

4. Eat less meat, especially red meat.

You don’t have to become a vegetarian. But because of high protein and fat content, red meat takes longer to digest, though everything I’ve read debunks the theory that it can stay in your intestines for up to a month. (Gross.) According to Cocoon Nutrition, “Adequate amounts of stomach acid are necessary to break down protein. That’s why overeating meat, especially cooked red meat, is hard on the stomach—it uses up the stomach’s acid and enzymes very quickly. Eating red meat day after day can exhaust the stomach’s ability to build up sufficient amounts of hydrochloric acid.”

5. Eat more yogurt.

There are all sorts of benefits to yogurt that improve digestion in general. I really like the DanActive yogurt drinks (see some testimonials) as they are low in calories and processed ingredients; they also claim to be suitable for lactose intolerant individuals, though I think it’s a case-by-case basis. Kefir is another really tasty option if you don’t like good ol’ plain yogurt (that Greek stuff rocks! Go Fage!).

I encourage you to stay away from Yoplait and many other commercial brands of yogurt, which are full of chemicals and high fructose corn syrup and kind of defeat the detox purpose.

6. Drink less alcohol and caffeine.

I’ll leave that one up to you. Good luck.

Here are some other tips from Also, you can do a minor detox like this 24-hour cleanse and flush (which still doesn’t sound very fun but doesn’t take a lot out of your holiday season).

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