The Ancient Tradition of Food Detoxing

The origins of detoxing,the pros and cons of the tradition and some detoxing pamper hot-spots in luxury surroundings.

You may think a detox is a new wave practice, driven to prominence in the last few years by Hollywood A-listers and Oscar winning actors turned health experts. This is not the case! You only need to look to the Romans, Ancient Egyptians, the Indians and Chinese for the origins of the detox as a health benefit.

All these ancient races practiced detoxing as a way to keep the body healthy. They believed that toxins built up in the system, and fasting or purging with certain foods helped get rid of them. They fasted, drank only water, or kept to fruits and fruit juices to clear the blood and gut. The Chinese favoured herbal medicines and certain teas to detox their systems, whereas the Indians sometimes used beneficial spices. This age old practice is regularly used today in alternative medicine, especially in Chinese and Indian therapies. It has come right into the modern way of living, with a succession of popularised detox diet plans and books spouting the virtues of the trend. So is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Conventional health experts aren’t so sure. Whilst they agree that toxins can build in vital organs like liver and kidneys, specific diets don’t always work to clear them out. Medical advice on detoxing is all about care and attention to what you are doing and how you do it. Common complaints while detoxing by fasting, just drinking fluids or eating fruit, are reported to include moderate to severe headaches, feeling weak and dizzy, nausea and even sickness.

Ideally, a detox should be properly supervised and you shouldn’t really do it alone if it’s a plan stretching over a few days. Common sense perhaps, but if you feel dizzy and fall, or faint and bang your head while you’re alone, you might have a problem bigger than the one you were trying to cure!

Exercise during detox is mainly a no-no, because energy is often very low. Remember you are consuming way less calories so you may feel quite listless and tired. Now is not the time to be pushing yourself for an energetic run or racking up ‘volcanic rage’ level on the cross trainer. You won’t manage marathon training during a detox, but a few light stretches might be in order to keep the body moving. As a gentle alternative, the ancient races often included yoga, meditation and prayer in their detox programmes. They considered the process to be one for mind, body and spirit alike, using it to renew and rejuvenate the entire being.

Most people who have experienced a detox report that the benefits are felt not during the detox, but afterwards. Comments include raised energy levels, a feeling of inner well-being and improved vigour. Colon cleansing is also sometimes part of a detox. Again, this practice is not recommended unless you are following a properly supervised plan.

If you can’t manage a full detox, but have vowed to include a healthy regime in your New Year resolutions, a little tip is to drink a cup of warm to hot boiled water first thing in the morning. Some people include lemon. Either way, it helps flush out the system before you eat anything else and gives you a jump start before breakfast!

However, if you feel the need to pamper yourself after Christmas, or any time you want a break with health benefits thrown in, some Good Food Ireland culinary accommodations have their own Spas which include detox therapies. Try these for size:

Culloden Hotel and Spa

Faithlegg Country House Hotel and Golf Resort

Hayfield Manor Hotel

Kelly’s Hotel and Resort

Mount Juliet 

Slieve Donard Resort and Spa

The Brooklodge Hotel and Spa

The Merrion Hotel

The River Lee Hotel

The Shelbourne Hotel