Detox after the holiday: Is it really a good idea?

Who doesn’t love having some time off in summer and enjoying the longer days and some relaxation? Usually, holidays also correspond with extra treats and drinks, a more relaxed diet, and maybe a break from exercise.


I believe this is totally healthy, and I want to reassure you that enjoying a couple of tapas nights and some sangrias on the beach while on holiday in Spain won’t spoil the benefits of a year of healthy eating and regular exercise!

Nevertheless, after the summer and winter holidays, many clients are contacting me asking for advice or a plan to “detox”. And in a couple of months, I am sure I will have clients suffering from fatigue, headaches, and digestive issues after DIY post-holiday hardcore detox.

What is detox?

Let me explain more about detox from the point of view of a qualified healthcare professional. First of all, what is detox? Detox is the process the body uses to make toxins water soluble to then be excreted. The main organ involved in this process is the liver, which filters a litre of blood every minute to do so!

So, the good news is that we all detox, but different factors can hinder our body’s ability to carry out this process efficiently, leading to different symptoms.

Types of toxins

Let’s take a step back – what is meant by toxins? Toxins are potentially toxic compounds and metabolites which can be harmful to cellular health if they are not excreted properly.

The main ones are:

  • hormones (excessive or “used” hormones)
  • pesticides and herbicides (including ones from no organic food)
  • drugs
  • alcohol
  • compounds in chargrilled/burnt food
  • cigarette smoke and fumes
  • toxic metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and dioxins (some of those can also be found in fish!)
  • chemicals from toiletries, household cleaning products, flame retardants and some paint
  • toxins produced by our own gut bacteria

What happens if our body is overloaded by toxins because of higher exposure or sub-optimal liver function? Those toxins get stored in our fat reserves (including the liver ones!) and then released following weight loss, stress, fasting or high exercise. Or they can stay around, being carried to all organs by the bloodstream, causing damage and increasing oxidative stress. If toxins are trapped in our body, we can start feeling fatigued, experiencing hormonal imbalances, headaches, skin rashes, feeling bloated, constipated and having a sense of nausea as well as brain fog.

As you can see, those symptoms can be associated with many conditions, and many conditions can be associated with poor liver function. So, what shall we do? We can try to control our environment by limiting exposure to toxins from smoke, excessive alcohol, chargrilled foods and chemicals in household products and toiletries. Taking good care of our liver and providing all the nutrients and co-factors needed to support the detoxification process is the next step! You would now think that juicing would be a good idea, but, in my opinion, it is not.

Liver detoxification

Liver detoxification is very complex, but it can be summarised in the phases:


Toxins are dismantled but somehow made more harmful and more water-soluble. These molecules are very unstable and reactive, producing free radicals, which can increase oxidative stress. 


During this phase, those reactive molecules are bound to more stable molecules to be less damaging and more water soluble to be ready to be excreted. To support this phase, amino acids (building blocks of proteins) are key. This is why doing a juicing program can be damaging – the very reactive molecule won’t have enough compounds to bind and would play havoc in the liver, potentially leading to oxidative stress and damage. Not only proteins are essential, but also other compounds found in foods such as broccoli and sulphur-rich foods are needed


Toxins can now be properly excreted via urine and stools. As you can see, many nutrients are needed for our liver to function correctly and support detoxification – only a balanced wholefood diet can provide that (and target supplementation if recommended by a healthcare professional).

A low kcal diet, low protein diet, poorly planned plant-based diet or juice fasting can cause more harm than good as it would encourage the release of accumulated toxins from the fat stores without providing the compounds to make them less toxic and ready to be excreted. Those toxins will be reabsorbed and travel via the bloodstream to different areas of the body, leading to imbalance and the symptoms mentioned above.

Refrain from magic formulas advertised on media or extreme DIY detox regimes, and focus instead on nourishing your body providing all the necessary nutrients to work at its full potential.

If in doubt, refer to a qualified nutritionist, which has the necessary knowledge to suggest the best diet and supplements to support your liver health and function.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
London, W1S 1HP
Written by Lucia Stansbie, Registered Nutritional Therapist, Dip CNM, mBANT, mCNHC
London, W1S 1HP

Lucia Stansbie, BANT registered Nutritional Therapist founder of Food Power Nutrition

Show comments

Find a nutritionist dealing with Balanced diet

All nutrition professionals are verified

All nutrition professionals are verified