As the leader in Spa and Wellness Breaks in Spain we have closely watched the growing trend for health and wellness holidays. More and more of our clients are specifically asking us for a Detox break, some for the first time and others, who have already experienced the benefits, come back on an annual basis. Our clients Detox for many varying reasons, from taking time out of a busy schedule, to breaking bad eating habits, losing a bit of weight but more commonly to really focus on a body and mind reset.
What we have realized is that whilst most people are familiar with the term “Detox”, there are lots of questions regarding the reasons behind and genuine benefits of such a break. For this reason we decided to interview the specialist doctor´s and nutritionists at 3 of our best selling Detox Programs; Carol at the Obsidian Wellness Centre, near Alicante and Vicky at Shanti Som near Marbella, both of which offer a Juice Fast or light detox diet and Dr Rolle, Senior Doctor and Owner at Océano Hotel Health Spa in northern Tenerife, offering the Detox Mayr Cure based on a hundred year old Austrian tradition with it´s hallmark abdominal massage and non aggressive diet. Here is what they had to say:
What is a “Detox” program?
The purpose of any detox plan is to take the load off the organs that toxify the body – the liver, kidneys and bowel – while at the same time supporting and improving their performance. It is a period of rest for the digestive system by reducing our food intake, removing processed, refined and aggressive foods such as coffee, alcohol and heavy proteins from our diet we give the body a chance to cleanse. Specifically in the Mayr Cure Detox with regular abdominal massages the intestines can also be strengthened which in turn supports the body to eliminate all types of excess and toxic substances.
What benefits would you have by doing a Detox?
In today’s world our bodies are continually bombarded with toxins, from the air we breathe, to an unhealthy diet, to the cleaning products we use along with cosmetics, body and hair products. Combine all of that with sedentary lifestyles, poor eating habits, high stress and maybe lack of sleep and the result is a body that can easily become overwhelmed by an ever increasing toxic load.
When our bodies are clean and strong, they are able to eliminate toxins efficiently, but when they become overloaded they can become sluggish, overweight (or underweight in some instances) and more susceptible to disease. By clearing away excess toxins on a regular basis, the entire body can become revitalized and rejuvenated.
People become ‘toxic’ in many ways, through diet and lifestyle and through harmful relationships and emotions. A true detoxification process works on all levels. Stopping the daily grind, slowing down and emptying your mind can make the experience as much a ‘mental break’ as a physical cleanse – a chance to de-clutter thoughts and re-establish your place in the world. Indeed, fasting and body cleansing has been used for centuries as a method of mental and spiritual purification. The feeling of ‘detox high’ that many people feel after a retreat is not just down to the physical rejuvenation but also the freedom from emotions that have been previously stuffed down (often with comfort foods) or covered up.
The first thing people talk about having detoxed is the increased energy levels, clearer skin, a feeling of clarity, improved digestion and the loss of a few unwanted kilos.
How important is diet for effective detoxing?
Due to the fact that the intestines are by far the biggest organ to eliminate toxins and it can take up to 70% of our energy trying to digest the food that we put into it, sustainable detoxing cannot happen without including and involving the intestines. For this reason diet is key to detox. You don´t have to juice fast to detox, you can just “eat clean”, avoid processed food, alcohol, sugar and coffee and difficult to digest foods like meat and dairy.
Another important thing is having a healthy mind! The way you think can also be very toxic to your body so try to meditate and do yoga which can help you with that! Last but not least think of what you put on your skin, “if you can´t eat it, don´t put it on your skin” is a very famous ayurvedic saying as our skin is our largest organ.
Should a Detox program be combined with plenty of physical activity?
A detox program requires a lot of rest as your body is working hard to clean, heal and rejuvenate itself. Physical activities should be very modest and always adapted to the each individual. If you do have the energy, doing an activity will actually encourage your lymphatic system to move which will in turn help carry your toxins and fat cells. Exercise doesn’t have to be a full on boxercise class, it can just be a gentle walk or swim.
How can people best prepare at home before a Detox program?
Give yourself a proper pre-cleanse period of at least a week and up to a month or longer before your detox. The first thing to start to cut back on before a detox is coffee and tea, these are the main culprits for a detox headache. Start looking at the ingredient lists of everything you are taking in and stay away from any unnatural ingredients like processed and refined foods (cakes, cookies), coffee, alcohol, sweeteners, sugar and fizzy drinks. Cut down on animal products (fish, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, and cheese). During this time fill your diet with light alkaline foods such as fresh organic whole fruits and vegetables. Grains such as quinoa, millet, amaranth and buckwheat are also okay. Drink good quality water at room temperature as this will start to hydrate the body.
What feedback do you get from clients during or after a Detox stay?
Everyone is different, so some say they have no symptoms at all during their detox while others can get very grumpy and tired and just want to sleep. One thing they all say after around day 3 is that they feel fabulous, lots more energy, more flexibility, glowing skin, no bloating and improved sleep. Clients go home feeling happier, more enthusiastic about life in general and very importantly prepared to make improvements in their daily life regarding health and eating habits!
For guests that stay because they have a specific condition they are trying to control like diabetes or blood pressure, the feedback is that many people can reduce or even stop taking some medications after following the programme.
On returning home should clients adapt their diet or avoid certain things to prolong the
If you go back home and immediately go back to your old ways then the conditions that you had will come back. If you adopt as much of the programme as possible when you go home you will continue to see great benefits and the more long term the effect will be. Recovering a stable rhythm of life is one of the most important factors of being healthy nowadays.
Can a detox program be used as a “quick fix” for people who overdo it or want to lose weight quickly?
The needs of each individual guest are taken into consideration in order to provide them with the optimum service during their stay. The bi-product of a detox for most guests it to lose between 2-4 kilos in a 7 night program, so from that point of view it can be a quick fix, however to achieve sustained weight loss you need a healthy diet and exercise.
If you have had a period of general excess then a detox can help you to reset, but you may find the symptoms are a little more severe in this case as the body will have to get rid of all the ‘toxins’ you have been putting in.
Are there certain situations where a Detox program is not advisable?
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a severe disease, infection, injury, being treated for cancer or taking medication we always recommend that you contact us in advance. All clients are asked to fill out a health questionnaire to see whether the program is suitable for them.
Do you have any important tips that people should know?
Planning is the key, good preparation with healthy food is always recommended. Block out a period of time in your calendar when you can focus on the preparation, diet and rest. Drink plenty of water during your detox to help the body to flush. Reduce your coffee and alcohol intake and you will see a difference. Always try to keep work time and meals separate so you take the time and care to eat, chew and digest properly and once a year program a period of time when you allow your body and mind to reset.
If you want to give up one thing chose dairy, our bodies are not designed to digest dairy, and it is the biggest cause of mucus in the body, the mucus then causes inflammation especially in the digestive tract.
For those of you keen to try juicing here are Carol and Vicky´s current favourites:
Half an apple, 1 cm of fresh ginger, 1 handfull of fresh parsley, 4/ 5 celery sticks. Put it all in the slow juicer and the result is delicious!
If you don’t have a juicer but just have a blender, here is the mango dream:
500ml of soy milk (you can use oat or almond milk, ½ mango – skin and stone removed, 1 banana – skin removed, large handful of blueberries, large handful of raspberries. Put them all in a blender and whizz till smooth.