The Do’s and Don’ts of Detoxes

Today’s post is written by Dillan DiGiovanni, a certified integrative nutrition health coach and teacher. He creates programs for healthier people and workplaces from his office in Union Square. Dillan will be regularly contributing his expertise on health and wellness to the Beat in the coming months.

Dillan Headshot copySpring is just around the corner, friends. Truly, I promise it is.

People often associate spring with cleansing and detoxes, so I wanted to share my advice about how to do it and do it well—from an integrative health perspective. There isn’t one right way to detox, but there are some key things to do and not do to make it a less uncomfortable and more rewarding experience.

I’ve compiled this list based on my experience working in natural food stores for more than 16 years, my professional experience as an integrative health coach and my very practical personal experience doing cleanses and detoxes.

1) DO eat real food: I can’t stress this one enough. Your body will cleanse itself naturally if you give it plenty of whole foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc.) every day. The problem is, most people don’t eat enough of these things and fill up on processed stuff like donuts, bread, fast food, too much meat and things that come in boxes. The more real food you eat, the more your body provides you with energy AND eliminates the rest naturally. By simply eating MORE real food, you’re helping your body do what it was designed to do.

Dillan Green Drink

2) DON’T fast: Fasting happens when you avoid most or all food or beverages for a certain amount of time. Your body goes into starvation mode when it isn’t given food. This causes it to either hold onto whatever you do eat or just generally wreaks havoc on your metabolism. Fasting isn’t necessary to have a cleansing/detox effect. If you regularly don’t eat between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., you’re essentially fasting for 12 hours every day. Good enough, I say!

3) DO drink less caffeine: Caffeine is a very strong chemical. Like many stimulants and depressants, your body becomes adapted to it over time and you may not even notice how much you’re relying on it to be productive or merely function in your life. Ideally, you want your food and lifestyle habits to provide all the energy you need. You don’t want to be reliant on an external form of energy. I know, you’re probably thinking, “Dillan, come on.” And that’s exactly why you might want to consider reducing your caffeine consumption … right? I had a client who went from five pots to one cup to no coffee at all and his productivity soared. His whole life has never been better, actually. Detox caffeine from your system and watch what happens.

4) DON’T buy cleanse kits: Detox kits are found in many major health food or natural food stores. Basically, they are a bunch of capsules filled with powdered herbs that help stimulate digestion and/or elimination. I do not recommend you use these. They can be incredibly uncomfortable to use and have you bent-over in pain or running to the bathroom during work or school. They aren’t necessary to achieve a detox effect. If you don’t believe me, read #1 again.

Dillan Signs

5) DO cleanse your whole life: Cleaning out your home and work space are just as important and effective to living a cleansed life as whatever is in your body. Cleaning and/or de-cluttering your closets, bedroom and home or work office can feel incredibly energizing! I recommend using non-toxic cleaners fragranced with essential oils and not harsh perfumes or chemicals. You’re cleansing, after all, right? I’ve only used natural cleaners since 2000, but I used a commercial cleaning product the other day. The smell was so intense that I had to open the windows to get rid of it!

And what about toxic people? Ever notice how you feel after hanging out with negative or cynical people compared to positive and empowered ones? Cleanse those folks like you would moldy science experiments in your fridge. The stress hormones they active in you aren’t good for your mental or physical health. How about your job? Is it time to seek out a new one that has better hours, more money or some other benefit you need more?

Consider your whole life as one big system—and each part needs to be addressed. Spring is a great time to address anything that needs to get tossed, replaced or repaired.

P.S. If this article interested you and you’d like to actually DO a cleanse program that fits what I’ve described, you’re in luck! I’ll be collaborating on a program with one of the best in the detox/cleanse business in mid-April. Sign up for my email newsletter or send me your email address at and you’ll be the first to know about it when it drops.

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