What is a Primal Detox?
If you’re here because of the book then you’ll already know that every once and a while I believe in undergoing a week long Primal Detox. Before I go any further I just want to clarify that this isn’t a meal replacement detox, or one of those dreadful tea boxes, this is a Primal detox which the Primal man himself would have encountered many a times over his existence – we’re basically treating our bodies, mind and environment like the Primal man did all those years ago. For example, limiting our use of mobile phones (environment), consuming only organic foods (body) and completely abstaining ourselves from sugar are just a few examples of what you can expect to see when undergoing a Primal Detox.
Personally, I believe there are huge benefits in undertaking a week long detox – especially now where in the modern world, our immune system, which is controlled by our gut, can really benefit from a deep clean. Over the past two years I have now done nine of these detoxes. My last detox was in April actually and by the end of the fast, I felt so amazing that I extended it to 19 days. I found that once my body adjusted to the detox it then became very simple and easy to obtain.
You’ll find that detoxes have become something of a cult over recent years and usually they involve some sort of extreme behavior — you have to limit your calories, replace all meals with a tea, cut out your red meat consumption, or undergo long cardiovascular activities to flush out all your toxins. Yikes.
You see, the thing about many detoxes out there is that they’re promoting something that is not only wrong but doesn’t actually work for the body. Ask yourself this: Do any of the detox methods above sound healthy to you? No, they don’t!
To really cleanse the body, it’s not just our food we need to clean up, but our environment too. For me, a true detox should consist of:
- Only consuming clean organic foods
- Completely abstaining from sugar
- Eating just the top 20 superfoods that you will read about later
- All meals to include cruciferous vegetables whose glucosinolates supercharge detoxification
- Eat foods high in sulfur, such as eggs, onions, garlic and chicken
- Cook with lots of turmeric or take curcumin supplements which aid detoxification
- Consume plenty of vitamin C (foods such as bell peppers) as it helps flush toxic minerals out of the body
- Avoiding all carbohydrates, other than those in vegetables
- Undertaking several fast days during the detox period
- Consuming supplements to replace any vitamins or nutrients missing during the fast, ensuring they contain glucosinolates
- Not using a mobile phone and if we have to, ensuring its either hands free or we use headphones
- Staying out of built up cities and urban areas
- Only drinking water that is filtered
- Completely avoiding BPA’s and plastic bottles
- No deodorants, perfumes or aftershaves
- No toxic shampoos or toothpaste
- Wearing clothes made only of natural fibers
- Drink lots of green tea which contain catechins which aids detoxification
How the body detoxes
Whether you’re aware of it or not (probably not), your body is always detoxing. The body is an incredible thing and it contains organs specifically devoted to removing waste and keeping our body as toxin-free as possible. So what’s the primary detox organ? That would be the liver. However, the liver is also supported by the intestines, kidneys, lungs and of course, the skin.
You should know that detoxing happens when toxins are collected within and around the body and are then removed by filtering through our blood and then eliminating itself through the bladder, the colon and even through the skin from sweating. Ever wondered why you feel so good after a sweaty workout? That’s because your body is getting rid of all the bad stuff!
How to undergo the ultimate Primal Detox
Undergoing a Primal Detox is probably one of the healthiest and friendliest ways you can do a detox because it specifically promotes the foods (primal foods) that naturally help to support the function of the detox organs. Rather than eliminating foods that your body relies on (such as fats and protein), you are instead fuelling your body with the foods nature first created for us.
For first timers, a Primal Detox may seem a little daunting however, most people will quickly feel better than they ever have. By eating only organic foods, cutting out sugar completely, eating the top 20 superfoods and keeping an eye your environmental behaviour (to name a few), you’ll actually be doing your detox organs a very big favour.
So to undergo the ultimate Primal Detox you will need to do the above but before you delve deep into your Primal Detox here’s a few tips:
The important thing about undergoing a Primal Detox is trying to make it as natural and fun as possible. It doesn’t have to be dull so please don’t see it as a massive restriction!
As I stated earlier, you’re going to need to eat 100% organically. Yes, it will increase your weekly food shop a little but I promise you that this one’s important. For example, you will need to make sure that you’re eating organic chicken, organic red meat, organic eggs, organic salmon, organic vegetables, vitamins (these are organic compounds made by plants, animals and us humans), organic herbs, organic milk. My simple tip would be to google your current shopping list and find out if there are organic alternatives. If not, then you’re all good!
This shouldn’t be too hard. I mean, we’re talking one week – minimum! If however, you have a sugar tooth monster then I would suggest trying to curb it with berries as they tend to be the sweetest fruit with lower calories and carbs.
Top 20 Primal Superfoods
I would like to claim (just like the X-factor) that these are in no particular order, however, if you had to take just a few on a dessert island with you then I would certainly start towards the top of the 20 Primal Superfood list:
- Coconut (in any way you can get it)
- Seeds (most of them)
- Cruciferous Vegetables (from broccoli to watercress)
- Organic Meats
- Organic Chicken
- Oily Fish
- Dark Chocolate
- Fermented Foods (especially Yogurt & Kaffir)
- Bone Broth
Foods high in sulphur
Sulfur-containg nutrients should most definitely still be included in your Primal Detox as they have some amazing health benefits, such as maintaining healthy joints and keeping our immune system in tact. If you didn’t know, Sulfur is found in every cell of the body which is why it’s important to still consume it during our Primal Detox. Some great foods that are high in sulphur are eggs, onions, garlic, chicken, coconut oil and nuts.
A powerful antioxidant with numerous health benefits including curtailing high blood pressure, protecting against gallbladder infections, defending against both strokes and certain cancers. It’s great for keeping wrinkly skin at bay, as well as colds and the flu. The only problem is that the body can neither create it nor store it. Therefore, we must consume plenty of Vitamin C daily – especially during our Primal Detox! Foods you should be eating that are contain Vitamin C are strawberries, blackberries, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, garlic, onion and sauerkraut to name a few. A cup of black currants or raw red peppers will provide three times our daily requirement, with a kiwi or a cup of raw green peppers doubling what we need.
Avoid carbohydrates and only consume vegetables
If you’ve been eating a Primal diet for a few weeks/months now then this shouldn’t be too hard. If you’ve already read Primal Cure then you’re probably already aware of the acronym CARBS (Carbs Are Really Bad Sugars) which is also short for carbohydrates. The Primal man himself never really indulged in complex carbohydrates, therefore we should avoid carbohydrates completely (a basic food group found in sugar, grains, etc..) and only consume vegetables. Yes, vegetables do contain CARBS but if we banished them completely then we’d be missing out on many fruits and vegetables which contain some amazing vitamins and minerals.
Living Primally isn’t about total CARB abstention, but avoiding those that are void of health benefits, such as the white category of CARBS including rice, sugar, bread, pasta and potato’s. So with healthy foods, where CARBS are wrapped into the package as a side macronutrient, we need to evaluate each one on its own merits.
I speak a lot about fasting in the book but in a nut shell: by intermittent fasting we can reduce the accumulation of free radicals, therefore we reduce the catalyst to many diseases – oxidative damage. As well as that, one of the many benefits of intermittent fasting is that it allows your small intestines to finish cleaning properly – exactly why it’s included in the Primal Detox.
Our caveman ancestors didn’t plan their famine and feasts, their food supply was always sporadic.
Firstly, I would only suggest fasting if you’ve done it before. There’s no point coming straight into the book and going on a strict fast straight away because it just won’t work and you’ll struggle. I suggest living a Primal diet for a few weeks first so that your body can get used to it. Then, when you’re ready, you’ll need to start counting calories for a while (don’t worry it won’t become a daily habit) until you become familiar with what 500/600 calories looks like – something which I discuss in the book. Once you’re aware of this you can then begin your fast by choosing between the 5:2 diet, the 1:1 diet, the 18 hour fast diet or the 3/4 day fast diet. I thoroughly explain each diet in the book so I suggest grabbing that and going over each fasting plan.
Environment and Mind
You’ll see that I’ve joined environment and mind together and that’s because I think the two both go hand in hand. Our mind can be heavily affected by our environment, therefore, I believe by improving one element we can also improve the other.
Limited phone usage
This one will be easier said then done – especially work wise. Right now though, I want you to honestly ask yourself how often you find yourself on your phone. Is it the first thing you see in the morning and is it the last thing you look at, at night? For a lot of people the answer will be yes and quite frankly, as a parent, I am frightened that The World Health Organisation (WHO) currently state on their website, “The electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans”. Scary? It should be. Especially when you think about how big and powerful the telecommunication giants are, I doubt we will find out the truth for several more decades.
So as part of our Primal Detox we need to go back to our caveman roots and try to eliminate our usage as much as possible. If however, you do need to use your phone for work purposes then only it via headphones or hands free.
My top tips for keeping your hands off your phone would be to put your entire families mobile phones away in a drawer when you’re all at home. I think it’s only fair that everyone should do the same otherwise you’ll be tempted when your partner/children are sat on their own phones. Good luck with that one!
Stay away from cities
In the book I discuss how we should be careful of what we inhale. It’s no secret that pollution is increasing at an alarming rate as the years go on; because of this I’ve made it a conscious effort (when I can) to avoid the centre of busy cities, their dirty enviornement and the fumes they carry.
I state this in the book but I think it’s important to remind you all again… In a report compiled on behalf of the EU, by The University of the West of England, they made some very interesting findings. To measure air pollution they fitted car drivers, cyclists and pedestrians with a carbon monoxide monitor. On studying their research, what I found most interesting was that on open roads, the level of pollution falls off quite quickly the further we are from the traffic. For example cyclists at 2.5 meters from the middle of the road were on average exposed to 0.5 toxic parts per million, whilst pedestrians at six meters from the middle of the road were exposed to 0.1 toxic parts per million. So when we can’t avoid going into highly congested cities or towns, it’s important to try and just get as far away from traffic as possible.
No deodorants, perfumes or aftershaves
Ahh… the lovely smell of petrochemicals! Yes, this one may be a little tricky for the self confessed fragrance lover, however, let me begin by telling you why it’s important to cut out toxic deodorants and fragrances during our Primal Detox…
Nowadays, fragrances are filled with toxic chemicals which are not as friendly or sweet loving as they appear. Many contain a dozen or more potentially hazardous synthetic chemicals, some of which are derived from petroleum. So when you think about it, we’re actually inhaling these chemicals daily and throughout the day (think about when you walk past a lovely smelling person) and whilst they may smell as sweet as a rose, they’re definitely not keeping their overall health very rosy.
No toxic shampoos or toothpaste
Just like fragrances, our shampoo and toothpaste can affect our health too. They too are packed with damaging chemicals – ones you can’t pronounce and one’s you’ll never have even heard of.
Hair and teeth products are highly modified to make them work. For examples, shampoos have been designed to lather up and leave your hair ‘squeaky clean and volumised’, and because of this shampoos are full of dangerous chemicals which will actually leave your hair stripped of it’s natural oils which in turn will leave you on the hunt for more hair products to cure your dry/oily hair. It’s all very well marketed really! Especially when they use labels such as ‘Sodium laurel sulphate derived from coconut’ when in fact, the coconut itself is far from natural as it’s had to be processed and modified.
I’m here to tell you though that you can achieve these effects (clean and nourished hair) by using natural ingredients – some of which you may have never heard of before! The same goes for toothpaste too.
So, as you undergo your Primal Detox I would highly suggest making a few of our own shampoo and toothpaste recipes. The secret to creating your own shampoo and toothpaste is using all types of strange and natural ingredients that nature gifted us with. These recipes may sound unusual but give them a go and see how they work for you! They’re incredibly easy to make and most of the ingredients you will probably already have in your cupboards! To give them a go, check out our ‘health and fitness’ blog section.
Include lots of green tea in your detox
Green tea, unlike most teas, is the healthiest natural drink you could drink. It’s created by drying the leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. The plant itself is full of epigallocatechin gallate (ECGC) which speeds up our metabolism and at the same time suppresses hunger. With every cup we drink, we get a double whammy of goodness. Green tea can also increases the hormone adrenaline, which in return produces heat. For the body to produce heat it has to burn energy and of course burning energy causes us to lose weight. Don’t think though that because of it’s ECGC benefits that drinking green tea is your only answer to your weight loss solution – it doesn’t work like that! Green tea should be a part of your Primal lifestyle rather than using it purely for it’s ECGC benefits. Plus, green tea has other amazing benefits, too. For example, it contains numerous other phytonutrients and antioxidants that boost the immune system acting as a natural antibacterial and antiviral compound. Their ability to protect us from free radicals and therefore certain cancers is well documented, as to is its ability to prevent symptoms associated with colds and flu.
Personally, I would suggest buying organic green tea that comes in the form of the leaves itself. Chances are that your local supermarkets green tea (that’s worth 70p) isn’t as organic or natural as it seems!
Like I said earlier, I’ve done a Primal Detox nine times over the past two years and after each and every one I’ve felt amazing. It may seem hard at first but keep reminding yourself of the benefits and why you’re doing it! When in doubt, get your head in Primal Cure, read more about the detox itself and hopefully you won’t need anymore convincing as to why a Primal Detox is so beneficial to the body!