Why I’m Not a Fan of “10-Day Detoxes”

March 12, 2014

By Anna Varriano

At this time of year, everyone is promoting some kind of quick detox product or program. 10-Day Detox books are front and centre, the latest celebrity ‘detox-and-lose-weight-fast’ diet is all the rage, and detox kits are hitting the shelf just in time for ‘spring cleaning’.  I also start getting questions that sound something like this: “I want to do a 10-day detox this spring. Which one of those kits do you recommend?” My answer is that I’m not keen on them.

In this month’s tip, I’m sharing:

  • the reason why I’ve never purchased and done a ‘10-day detox’ kit
  • a few things you may want to consider before you run out and buy one of those kits
  • a “Top 10” list (which includes a video demonstrating a quick  ‘activity’ that you can  easily work into your daily routine) for supporting one of your body’s largest, natural, self-driven, ‘detox’ mechanisms which is at work every day

The body is naturally programmed to ‘self-clean’ … every day

self clean buttonThe more I learn about the body, the more I am in awe of its amazing and beautiful design. Among many of its wonders is that it is naturally programmed to ‘detoxify’ and ‘cleanse’ every single day.  Our bodies have been doing this since the beginning of time…since before 10-Day Detoxes were even a twinkle in someone’s eye!

How well our bodies carry out their ‘self-cleaning cycles’ depends primarily on two things:

  1. How many toxins (aka “crap”) they get exposed to through: what we eat and drink (alcohol, soft-drinks, fast foods, junk/snack foods, soft drinks, packaged and processed foods that contain unhealthy fats and all kinds of sugars – even many ‘natural and healthy’ packaged foods are full of garbage), the water we drink and cook with, the water we bathe and play in, the air we breathe, the lotions and potions we put on our skin and hair, and even the lotions and potions we use to clean our clothes, our homes, and our cars.  There’s even a growing body of research on the harmful effects of electromagnetic pollution (e.g. cell phone towers, Wi-Fi) on our health.
  2. The condition (and hence functioning) of the organs that do the detox and cleansing work for the body.  We most commonly associate the liver and kidneys with detoxing and cleansing, however, many other organs also play a role, including the lungs, the stomach, the urinary bladder, the large intestine/colon, and last, but not least, the skin. I’m going to collectively refer to these organs as our eliminative organs.

Detox and Feel Better…or Worse…

coin tossI suspect the main reason why people report feeling better during or right after a ’10-Day Detox’ is that they paid more attention to eating healthier, taking supplements, drinking more water, and perhaps moving a bit every day during the detox period. On its own, eating healthier reduces the amount of toxins we ingest through food and increases the amount of health-boosting nutrients to fuel our bodies – including our eliminative organs.

If our eliminative organs are working properly, there is no need for ‘extra cleansing’ … that is, provided they aren’t being over-taxed 24/7 with toxins from the items listed in #1 above! If any of our eliminative organs are sluggish, which is unfortunately the case for many of us, a 10-day detox isn’t going to make much of a dent (except for maybe in our pocket-books); in fact, I have seen cases when they have led to more harm than good. Unfortunately, just like other ‘quick-fix-diets’, once a 10-day detox and cleanse program is over, old habits are quick to return. Rather than focusing on ‘doing a 10-day detox’, let’s focus on what we can do on a daily basis to support the work horses of our body’s naturally programmed ‘self-cleaning’ cycle – our eliminative organs.

The Skinny on Skin

attractive young healthy caucasian womanSince the skin is the largest organ of elimination, and is responsible for 25% of the body’s daily detoxification, I’m going to give it the spotlight. Here’s my ‘Top 10 List’ for optimizing the overall health and detox function of the skin:


  1. Dry skin brushing promotes the health of the skin by removing dead layers of skin cells and encouraging circulation to the skin. Both of these will improve the skin’s eliminative function. It’s so quick and easy that you can do it every day. Here’s a video to show you how.
  2. Drink plenty of pure, filtered water and eat more high water foods. Fruits and vegetables are the winners here, with some specific examples being melons (especially watermelon), grapefruit, strawberries – organic if possible, cabbage, squash, cucumbers, and celery.
  3. Take an omega-3 fish oil supplement daily and eat more omega-3 foods such as cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), ground flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
  4. Wear clothes made of natural fibres to allow your skin to ‘breathe’. Also be aware that clothes and bed sheets washed in certain laundry detergents can irritate the skin, so consider using more natural/bio-degradable options.
  5. Avoid anti-perspirants. They block the skin’s eliminative function, thereby putting stress on other eliminative organs. Many commercial brands also contain aluminum, which should be avoided. Use a natural deodorant stick instead.
  6. Do something that makes you sweat, such as brisk exercise, saunas, or steam baths, as toxins can be eliminated through sweat.
  7. Take an Epsom salt bath a few times a week. Add 1 cup of Epsom salts to a warm tub of water and soak in it for up to 20 minutes (no longer).
  8. Note that the skin is equally efficient at absorbing toxins as it is at excreting them, so be mindful of what you put on your skin!  My rule is if I wouldn’t eat it, I avoid putting it on my skin. High quality coconut oil is my year-round body lotion, face cream, make-up remover, and bath oil.
  9. If you have to wear sunscreen, beware of the ingredients. Many contain chemicals that can cause skin irritation, skin damage, and more. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s annual Sunscreen Guide to compare brands and make the best choice possible.
  10. Get a filter that takes the chlorine out your shower and bath water. Some sources claim that during a 10-minute hot shower, more chlorine is absorbed into the body compared with the amount that is absorbed by drinking 8 glasses of the same water. This is because during the shower, in addition to being absorbed through the skin, the chlorine in the water may evaporate into a noxious gas which you then inhale. You can purchase a wide variety of water filters for your shower, bath, and drinking water at water specialty stores. If you live in Ottawa, check out WaterMart, located in Bells Corners, at 3825 Richmond Road, Ottawa 613-768-9676.  Mark, Dan, and their knowledgeable staff will help you find the products that best fit your water usage and budget.

If the idea of detoxing still really appeals to you, then starting right now, be a bit more mindful of what you are putting in and on your body every single day. Starting today, make a daily effort to support your body’s self-cleaning cycle by eating more fresh whole foods (hint: they don’t come in boxes, cans, packets, or microwaveable packaging) especially more vegetables of all colours, eat fewer grains and grain products, buy organic and pastured meats, eggs, and dairy products when possible, drink plenty of pure filtered water, and move your body as much as you can.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep everything in my house clean and running smoothly by just giving it a good ‘once over’ in the spring – and I believe the same is true for my body!

Yours in good, clean health,



Privacy Policy