Detox - How does it work?

Prof. Dr. Verena Briner, FRCP
Prof. Dr. Verena Briner, FRCP
Healthy Lifestyle
Detox diets are a trend among alternative therapies. But how will it work? And what is that anyway? An introduction to the world of detoxification.

Everywhere offers for detox diets, detox drinks and detox food supplements sprout from the ground. But some misunderstandings persist. One of the most common is the assumption that it would be just one diet or weight loss programm among many. But it is by far not only about juices, healthy drinks and certain nutrients.

In fact it is much more than that. It is a health cure that benefits body and mind. Nutrition is an important element, probably the most important, but not the only one to really understand detox.


In theory it is simple: detox stands for detoxification. This is the purification of the body from toxins or generally harmful substances. Normally the human body is able to rid itself of toxic substances. However, if the load is too high and the cleansing powers of the body are disturbed, the process no longer works well enough.

But detox is not a protected term with a uniform definition. Under its brand several different diets, nutrition concepts, cures and concepts are marketed. The spectrum ranges  from the renunciation of foods with a high sugar or fat content, to the intake of purely liquid foods such as soups, juices or teas, to forms of vegan nutrition.

They all share one goal nonetheless: to cleanse and detoxify the body from the inside by means of a reduced, deacidifying diet, breaking down and eliminating toxins and strengthening organs such as the liver and kidneys.

How does a detox cure work?

As mentioned before, the basic idea of detox is to support the body's own cleansing processes. These can be disturbed by an unhealthy, stressed lifestyle. The wrong nutrients, too little sleep, stress and the modern always-on mentality can put a great strain on health. Many people feel burnt out, unfit and strangely powerless. This is exactly where the detox diets come in.

There are two essential ways to take a detox diet. With the first variant solid food is renounced completely, very similar to fasting. The idea is to drink fruit and vegetable juices as well as soups to uptake all the necessary nutrients and vitamins. With the second variant however exclusively basic food is permitted.

To the basic food belong nearly all kinds of fruits, vegetables and salads, mushrooms, almonds and herbs. They contain substances that the body metabolizes in alkaline form, such as magnesium, calcium and iron. In addition, they contain no or very few acid-forming substances, but share the most important vitamins. 

gourmet food


In the Waldhotel we recommend the Waldhotel Color Cuisine, for example, to accompany our Detox Pro programm or even our Detox yoga. It is free of wheat, sugar and other toxic foods and is supplemented by alkaline foods such as pulses, cereals, raw vegetables, nut milk and juices. 

It is also important to avoid the intake of other toxins during the detox program - and this also includes everyday items such as alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes. At best, milk products, wheat and sugar are already reduced a few days before the start of the cure. In this way, the efficiency of a detox diet can be further increased and the crucial organs like your liver or kidney can work at their best.

This is particularly effective if you take enough time. Ideal for a detox diet are 3 to 6 weeks, which are divided into three 1-2-week phases. In the introduction you reduce the intake of bad food and prepare the body for the change. The middle phase is the actual cure in which you strictly follow your diet. This is followed by a build-up phase, during which the slowly increased amount of calories prepares you for a normal diet.

What are the advantages?

The central idea and the obvious advantage of a such a cure is the cleansing and detoxificiation of the body. In addition to supporting the described body functions, there are other positive side effects. Often the skin cleanses, sleep problems can be reduced, the cardiovascular system works better and many report the feeling of having more energy. In addition, the cure has a positive effect on the mood of most people. Some mental illnesses such as burnout or depression, for example, benefit from a well-done detox cure.

Due to the reduced and very conscious diet during a detox diet, there is going to be a huge weight loss in a short time. Calorie intake is usually reduced to a few hundred calories a day and as a result, the body attacks its own reserves in order to supply itself with energy. Among other things the stored fat is dissolved and thereby further pollutants are solved, which are to be diminished afterwards.

In the ideal case a detox diet should not take place in the everyday life, but in a resting phase. The best way to do this is of course a holiday or a special spa stay. The rest and the relaxed environment support body and mind during the detoxification. One of the advantages of a detox experience together with the Waldhotel is, for example, the support of experienced professionals.


Criticism of Detox

An honest examination of detox diets also includes a reference to critical voices. Again and again critics state, that the scientific proof for the effectiveness of detoxification is still missing. For many pollutants and toxins, such as pesticides, the effect on the body and its metabolism is not yet precisely understood.

Also detailed, profound studies to detox products and parliamentary allowance are scarce commodity. Experts generally emphasize the body's ability to cleanse itself of toxins and harmful substances without outside help. Does this mean that detox is nonsense? 

No. This means that one should seriously deal with the topic and consciously decide whether it is worth a try. Countless people feel refreshed and healthy after their detox diet and have the feeling that they have done something good for their body and themselves. How should that ever be a bad thing? It is not about believing in the bodys own strength, it is about supporting it and help yourself to stay or become healthy in your everyday life.


Waldhotel DETOX Programmes