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Andrea Everingham

To detox or not to detox – How to tell if you could benefit from a cleanse

Did you know all humans and animals alike naturally detox on a regular basis. It is the natural daily cycle in which our body eliminates the toxins from the food we consume, and the unhealthy atmosphere we’re immersed in. Liver, kidneys, lungs, bowel and skin; they all work together to provide us with an excellent system to get rid of the things the body doesn’t need.

Restorative yoga and detox
Guests enjoying a restorative yoga session

So, if we are so capable of cleansing by ourselves, why are detox practices so popular nowadays? Well, even our perfectly designed bodies could use a hand from time to time, and by using these practices we’re facilitating its job. “The purpose of a detox is to support these organs of elimination, so that toxins can be metabolized and excreted” explains Breanne Kallonen, expert in nutrition and Naturopathic Medicine.

How to tell if you’re in need of a detox

The mainstream concept of a detox has been related to the consumption of alcohol and junk food. However, everyone needs to detoxify. Because even if you don’t consume these products, chances are that your diet includes food with preservatives and artificial ingredients; or maybe you use perfume with toxins; or maybe you just live in a big, polluted city. The truth is, unless you’ve decided to retreat in the mountains and grow your own organic vegetables, most of us are constantly exposed to toxins.

Lotus Retreat Brunch
Lotus Retreat Detox brunch

Still, there could be signs our body gives that tell us that it’s time to take extra care. Common signs of the body needing detoxification are:

  1. Constant fatigue or low energy
  2. Brain fog
  3. Mood Imbalances
  4. Anxiety
  5. Constipation
  6. Low libido
  7. Poor quality sleep
  8. Muscles and joint aches
  9. Chronic diseases
  10. Tooth cavities appearing

therefore, if any of these symptoms relate to you, it could be a good time to start thinking about assisting your system, by taking some workload off the detoxifying organs.

Methods to detox

There is a great variety of cleansing programs to choose from, which vary in intensity and philosophy. However, all of them tend to agree that post detox, maintaining a healthy diet, good sleeping habits and an active lifestyle are important. Most experts recommend easing into a detox by avoiding red meat, caffeine, wheat, alcohol, dairy, sugar and processed foods. Replacing these with organic fruits, vegetables and water is a great start and in itself could be consider as a mild detox.

There are other ideas and concepts of ways to detox, but the factor that we feel many forget to consider is how practical it is in relation to your lifestyle. It’s all fine and well to treat yourself to an energising juice cleanse, but if that means going without food whilst waiting tables, or training for a 10K, the challenge can be unrealistic. The idea is to set yourself realistic goals and this means finding the right type and time scale of detox to suit your needs and levels of discipline. Other interesting detoxes to consider (speak to a health care practitioner first) are the Sugar-free Detox, Kitchari Cleanse , apple cider vinegar detox and Panchakarma.

Benefits of a detox retreat

Once you decide to try a detox on your own, you might still encounter two little issues: the first one, not being surrounded by the right ambiance to start a healthy lifestyle; For example, starting a cleanse over the family Christmas get together may not be the easiest timing. The second one, not counting on the guidance of a specialist and finding yourself not getting the best out of your focus and hard work. The good news is that both can be solved with a detox retreat.

A detox retreat could be a life-changing experience, and not because of the false idea that you can eliminate all toxins accumulated throughout the years in just a few days of holiday, but because it could be a great way to kickstart a healthier life. During a retreat, you’re provided with all the tools you need to detox. You’re given a diet and a routine to follow, so you don’t have to worry about anything but eating and drinking what you’re being offered. “Having experienced and friendly support for motivation and inspiration, can make a detox retreat a very powerful start to a new healthy life” Says Azulfit’s Karissa Isaac.

Azulfit: More than a retreat, this is your journey.

In addition, the relaxing setting of a detox retreat helps to reduce stress, which helps to provide more micronutrients to the body. At a retreat, “your regular stress triggers tend to go away allowing for better habits to be formed. Meditation, yoga and being outdoors are common activities, and all of these tend to use the relaxation parasympathetic nervous system. When we are stressed our bodies hold onto fat, so when we aren’t our bodies can function better” states Kate Hamm, Bliss Sherpa at AnamBliss, who has organized many retreats, during which she’s witnessed the benefits first hand.

Last but not least, probably the most significant advantage of detoxing on a retreat, is the professional support available “Doing a detox can be difficult and requires discipline, which is why it’s easier to go away on a retreat to do a professionally supervised program where you can focus and get the best out of the process. It’s also easier to stay on the program, […] when you remove yourself from the temptations of your everyday food routine, your own fridge, or from your family who are eating normal food” comments, Tania Ho, expert in detox and founder of Museflower Retreat & Spa.

The key after a detox

Let’s be clear, a detox program of any kind is not a magic pill. The key to a detox is your commitment to apply what you’ve learned afterwards. Once you’ve completed it, you must be disciplined and keep the habits that you’ve cultivated during the detox program in order to make way for a new and healthier lifestyle. Going back to your old ways would render the time & effort you spent on detoxifying useless. That’s why retreating with a company like Azulfit, who create a community and support network after the retreat, can be really helpful and help you in making simple healthy choices back home.

As Functional Medicine practitioner, Morgan Mellas says, “Anyone who is going to the trouble of a serious detoxification should be conscious about avoiding returning to a toxic state by consuming 100% organic food, clean water, staying away from toxic chemicals and beauty products, and creating awareness in all other areas of their lives”. But still, according to Gary Foster, Ph.D., clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania, nearly 65 percent of people who go on a diet, return to their old habits and weight within three years.

Azulfit Surya Retreat FoodFor that reason, perhaps the most important key after a detox, is to enjoy the process and be grateful for the clean slate you hold in your hands. That way, you think of it as a fun new lifestyle and not as a burden you must bear. “Connect and stay tuned to your body. Sometimes it does crave for meat or something sweet, so it’s important to balance and enjoy yourself while appreciating the food you eat. Be grateful rather than feeling guilty strictly following a certain type of diet. Food and eating are supposed to be fun!” advices Tania Ho. 

Jo Pilates

If you would like to enjoy the greater benefits of a week long detox we have just the thing with Jo Dombernowsky’s upcoming ‘Detox with Pilates and Yoga Retreat’ running at our stunning new Surya Retreat.

Detox with Pilates and yoga

Location: Surya Retreat, Fuerteventura Date: 13 – 20 January 2018
Instructor(s): Jo Dombernowsky & Rachel Blunt


You can detox your body and mind with detoxifying food, alkalising juices and strengthening, cleansing yoga and Pilates. Give yourself a boost to greater health and gain the tools and inspiration to continue with a more balanced lifestyle back at home. Led by a caring and warm team you will benefit from their experience, knowledge and support in this special week to bring wonderful changes to your body, mind and energy levels – all whilst enjoying the sun and beauty of Fuerteventura.

About Jo

Jo DombernowskyJo Dombernowsky is the resident chef and nutrition advisor at Azulfit Yoga & Pilates Retreat.

She runs nutrition workshops, yoga, Pilates and detox retreats and special nutrition holidays and is the author of the highly acclaimed cookbook ‘Truly healthy, truly delicious’. Jo is also an inspirational Pilates teacher and her all-round healthy approach to life is clear to see. Jo has her own food blog where she posts her delicious recipes, keeping you up to date on all the wonderful new food coming out of the Azul kitchen.

Ready to experience the benefits of detox retreats and jumpstart your way to a healthier life? Join us for our Azulfit yoga and detox retreats in August and January 2017 or check out to browse a vast selection of detox retreats and select the program that best suits your needs.

About the Author:

Alberto G. Güitrón

Community Manager at He is a writer experienced in Journalism, TV and non-profit organizations. Sports fan and healthy life enthusiast.

Special thanks to all the experts who contributed with this article:

  • T. K. Stone. Author of the Mind/Body Health book, “The Fertile Ground”
  • Breanne Kallonen. Naturopathic Medical Intern.
  • Kate Hamm. Bliss Sherpa at AnamBliss.
  • Nedalee Thomas. CEO of com
  • Morgan Mellas. Functional Medicine practitioner and an expert in detoxification. com
  • Janice Rosenthal. Certified Massage Therapist. com
  • Tania Ho. Founder and owner of Museflower Retreat & Spa, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
  • Jennifer from
  • Carolyn Dean, MD, ND is a nutrition expert and author of “The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Women’s Health”.  Member of the Nutritional Magnesium Association at org.