Soups, salts and syrups: the top 10 detox regimes

Feeling like you’ve over-indulged? A detox might be the answer


The combination of too much heavy food, alcohol and late nights over the festive period can really take its toll on our bodies – and our mental health – leaving us in dire need of a good clean-out. It’s no surprise that losing weight and getting fit tops resolution lists year after year.

Popular with celebs such as Beyoncé and Gwyneth Paltrow, detox diets usually involve the avoidance of foods or entire food groups such as wheat, dairy and alcohol as well as processed foods. They usually have one thing in common, as the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute points out – they are restrictive and difficult to stick to for any length of time. They can be endurance tests of willpower and self denial.

“If you have a well-balanced diet and include all food groups as recommended in the food pyramid there is no need for detox diets,” a spokeswoman for the institute says. “In reality, people often use them as a kickstart to a new healthy lifestyle, maybe as a new year’s resolution. If you want to use a detox diet as a means to a healthier you, then short-term use is fine, but any longer may lead to nutritional deficiencies.”

1. The Master Cleanse
Also known as the Maple Syrup Diet or Lemonade Diet, this detox, which Beyoncé used to lose 20lb for her role in the 2006 movie Dreamgirls, involves drinking six to 12 glasses of a special mixture of water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper each day for 10 to 45 days.

2. Raw Food Detox Diet
This diet involves the consumption of raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains and seeds and it has five different levels so dieters can select the one that’s right for them. Demi Moore, Beyoncé and David Bowie have all followed raw food diets to improve their health and detoxify their bodies.

3. The Clean Program
Designed by US cardiologist and “cleanse specialist” Dr Alejandro Junger, this diet excludes gluten and other common allergens, with detoxers eating one solid meal a day, drinking two liquid meals and taking supplements which include herbal laxatives. The 21-day Ultimate Clean Program kit costs approx €309. Fans include Gwyneth Paltrow, Demi Moore and Donna Karan.

4. The Juice Cleanse
This involves ingesting all of your food in the form of juice. You can either sign up to a structured programme or buy a juicer and a book and do it yourself at home. Incorporate greens, vegetables and some fruit to act as a natural sweetener into each juice recipe. Don’t peel the ingredients first unless absolutely necessary, as the skins of fruits and vegetables hold the most fibre and other key substances.

5. The Cabbage Soup Diet
Detoxers on this regime are allowed to eat all the cabbage soup they want for seven days as well as a very limited selection of other foods such as fruit, vegetables and skim milk. It promises a 10lb weight loss in a week, but like other restrictive detox diets, it is primarily just water loss that will quickly be regained.

6. The Ultimate Tea Diet
Created by tea expert Mark Ukra, dieters on the Ultimate Tea Diet are allowed to drink as much green tea, black tea, white tea or oolong tea as they want – hot or iced. Unlike many other detox diets, however, this programme allows you to eat three solid meals a day as long as they include a specific balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat, but detoxers are advised to use an eight-inch plate to maintain control over portions.

7. The Salt Cleanse
Halotherapy, or salt therapy, historically meant a visit to one of Europe’s salt caves. However, many spas now have their own salt therapy rooms. Salt can help to heal the body by removing bacteria from the lungs and it it has been shown to improve asthma, allergies and irritations of the skin. Create your own salt therapy regimen at home by pouring Epsom salts into a warm bath and soaking in it three times a week.

8. The Lymphatic Cleanse
This is a gentle massage targeting the lymphatic system that claims to move toxins out of the body, move stagnant energy and stimulate the immune system. Make sure your therapist is certified in manual lymphatic drainage therapy (LDT).

9. The Aloe Gut Cleanse
Dublin-based Paleo Meal Deliveries recommend doing their three-day raw vegetable juice detox programme (€75) before embarking on their five-day Clean 9 Aloe Detox and Gut Cleanser (€165). The company specialise in delivering paleo, aka “caveman diet” meals containing unprocessed, fresh and local ingredients.

10. The Detox Retreat
If you take your detoxing seriously, this may be one to start hinting at for next year’s Christmas pressie. The Cloona Health Retreat in Westport, Co Mayo, runs three- and five-day retreats with themes such as weight-loss, liver flush, raw food, energy and soul care.


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