A mini-guide to a New Year detox

Food is the key starting point for a New Year detox

Food is the key starting point for a New Year detox - Credit: Archant

Healthy eating is the key says nutritionist Kathryn Johnson

In this month for fresh starts and resolutions the hype around how to purify yourself from within is at its peak and virtually any concentrated effort on this front is fashionably and loosely labelled as detox. What is this really, and do you need to bother?

Detoxification is a natural function of the human body. It’s an ongoing, biological process performed daily without any conscious intervention. The liver for instance is constantly filtering substances within our digestive tract. We are geared up to eliminate waste and avoid the build-up of substances that have the capacity to be harmful. These substances can be ingested via our mouths through food and drink, or via our skin and lungs through chemicals in our environment.

In addition to the liver, there are four essential eliminatory organs in the body. This means there are various ways to detox - and you may need to try more than one approach to bring them back to full function. After all, if you plan to release accumulated toxins, you’ll need to ensure that your all exit routes are clear. This means there are also different levels of detox such as a therapeutic cleanse, intense healing, or maintenance regime. Plus, a structured order.

But unless you are seriously ill, simple, real food and drink serve us well as both fuel and medicine to support your organs. Good choices are:


Liver: pure water, fresh juices with grapes, citrus, prunes or berries, and herbal teas, especially nettle.

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Bowels: include fibrous, water-rich foods in the form of vegetables and clean drinks that don’t immediately run through you. Flax, chia seed gels or green smoothies for example.

Skin: hydration from within, and top-to-toe skin brushing to stimulate the lymphatic system.

Lungs: breathing exercises for eliminating waste gases; moderate but daily activities to encourage perspiration, tone organs and aid circulation to push nutrients into cells and pull toxins out.

It is easy to be drawn into a refreshed and re-energised vision of oneself at this time of year. However, January is possibly the worst month to embark on a severe new regime when our biological dials tend towards rest and comfort rather than challenge. If you’ve been over-doing it, by all means lighten the load on your body. Take some positive steps in the form of small consistent actions. Short, sharp regimes will shock the system - never a good thing - and have limited benefits. Take your cue from how your body naturally works, which is subtly, and day-to-day. Go gently.

Kathryn Johnson of Raw Appetite is raw food teacher based in High Peak, working in Cheshire and Manchester focusing on ‘real food’. www.rawappetite.com

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