My friend Rob met a woman at a party and she was asking him questions about his lifestyle.

Rob took his usual “disarmingly frank” approach and gave her a fairly honest tale of drinking, smoking cigarettes and a diet dominated by the big pan of chili he made on Mondays, divided into portions and froze, to be grabbed and microwaved for the rest of the week. He figured maybe she would take him under her wing and make him a project. At least that would mean she was interested.

“Wow,” said the woman. “You must be incredibly toxic,” and Rob was quite taken aback because he had never thought that was a word that would be applied to him. Toxic gases, toxic waste or even toxic relationships, maybe, but toxic Rob?

She wasn’t impressed and she didn’t want to run away with him to a remote island where she would feed him nuts and berries and wash his clothes in a sparkling stream.

No. He was toxic. A drinker. A smoker. A carnivore. A man with a diet high in salt and fat.

Rob was, to this woman, a loser.

He’s a good-looking guy, intelligent and funny, but he was still thinking like a teenager.

This was before I met him, in fact. I could have told him how important it is, to yourself and to how others see you, to keep your body as clean inside as outside.

And I know that because there was a time when I was as toxic as hell.

I’m a recovering alcoholic. From the age of nine (yes, 9) I poured alcoholic drinks down my throat like there was no tomorrow – and if I hadn’t finally got sober almost 10 years ago there would, by now, have been no tomorrow.

Detoxing for an alcoholic is a long, hard road. By comparison, Rob had it easy – and he did do it, albeit too late to charm the woman at the party.

And here are the top five tips for detoxing.

  1. Learn about detox

    To do it properly yourself, you need to acquire a bit of knowledge. What is toxicity in a human being? What is the detox process? It’s a bit like changing the oil in a car: it has to be done from time to time but if you’re going to do it yourself, you have to learn how. Or go to a professional, and even then (for you, not the car), it helps to know why they are telling you to do what they are telling you to do.
  2. Change your diet

    You’re going to have to be what people call a “health Nazi”. You’ll be eating fresh foods including lots of vegetables, particularly dark, leafy and sometimes bitter ones. Broccoli, cabbage, kale. Plants of that ilk help the liver, which is the body’s purification center.You will become suspicious of ready-prepared foods. You will be a scrutinizer of labels, a decoder of technical terms, a sentry at the gates of your body, keeping the fat and salt and sugar out, not to mention all the artificial stuff.
  3. Drink more water

    It’s the fundamental fluid of the earth and it’s what our body is largely composed of. Without it, plants shrivel and die and so do we. Without enough,  plants just look sickly and so do we, because our body needs water for so many functions, from digestion to brain function and the appearance of our skin.Start your day with a big glass of water and have regular top-ups throughout the day It doesn’t have to be just water, of course. Juice is largely water (but unfortunately also sugar-laden). Soup is savory water (but watch out for the salt content, not to mention the cream they add to make things silky and seductive). Tea is okay – even “normal” tea, which contains caffeine, but nothing like as much as its brusque, muscular rival, coffee. And there are all the fruit and herbal teas, plus the South American favorite, maté, and the South African rooibos (sometimes anglicized to redbush).
  4. Exercise till you sweat

    Exercise gets the body going, the lungs doing their stuff with oxygen and the heart keeping the blood supply doing its job. Sweating may not be the most glamorous of bodily functions, but the smell of fresh, healthy perspiration is not offensive and modern hygiene equipment (i.e. running water, soap, showers etc.) mean it can soon be removed. And the reason that sweat has such a bad reputation is that it gets rid of toxins, as our other expelling functions do. So exercise, sweat, and shower means feel good, look good and smell good.
  5. Avoid harmful chemicals in the air

    If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where the air is fresh and clean, your environment has taken care of this for you (and will continue to, as long as you take care of it). If you’re in an urban environment that’s full of exhaust fumes, try to spend time in the park or by the river, especially where there are trees. Trees provide oxygen and filter out harmful gases, as well as catching dust on their leaves and bark. Maybe that’s why some people hug them.So, at the time of writing my friend Rob is still talking hopefully to women at parties (although going easy on the potentially damaging truths) and he’s looking and feeling a lot better. And me, I’m taking each day as it comes but with ever-increasing confidence. And eating well and running and playing basketball.If you have a detox success – or concern – you’d like to share, why not leave it here in a comment?


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