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I have done a detox program a few times. I always feel so great afterwards I think I will never go back to my old ways. Unfortunately, it’s typically a matter of days not weeks before I slip back into the same old same old. And so I wondered, what is it that makes a detox feel so good? And what does a detox really do to cleanse the system? Is fasting better than eating food when detoxing? How often should I detox? Can I be better about building the principles of detox into my life after I detox? And so when I had the chance to talk to Karina Stewart, one of the founders of the award-winning Kamalaya spa in Koh Samui, Thailand I knew just what I wanted to ask her.


karina stewart kamalaya

The first thing I wanted to ask Karina (pictured at left) was about a fasting vs. an eating detox. Why eat? Karina tells me, “eating during a detox nourishes the body into a higher level of health and gives the fuel that makes the body run properly, like an efficient engine.” Whereas, fasting is not necessary to cleanse the body, and in fact over time can do harm. Karina explains, “The body goes into starvation mode, which can damage the metabolism. “ While there is a place for fasting, for spiritual reasons or under extreme medical cases like in cancer treatments, it is not the ideal way for the body to effectively detox.

And I am a bit embarrassed to ask Karina, because I have detoxed several times already in the last few years, but I am wondering what does detoxing really do for the body? Karina’s list is seemingly endless. “It essentially resets the system and sets the stage for proper functioning of the liver. It balances the blood sugar and lightens the load in the digestive system. It typically results in an increase in metabolism while also reducing inflammation. In some cases there are weight loss, but detox is more about cleansing the system than weight loss.” She tells me that as a result of this many people experience the rising of emotions during a detox, especially for those who go to a spa like Kamalaya where one has the space and time to pause. Karina says, “Often emotions you have set aside will rise up, and going through a physical detox can being on an emotional detox as well.” And in fact, this has been my experience when visiting Kamalaya.

My biggest problem is maintaining healthy habits in every day life as I mentioned about, so I ask Karina if there are easy ways to bring detox habits into my daily life. “Sure,” she says, “you can start your day drinking a glass of water with lemon and continuing this throughout the day. And then have leafy green vegetables, cooked or raw, at least 1x a day. Iceberg lettuce doesn’t count!” Karina says. Karina suggests green smoothies, “Just blend spinach, fruit and coconut water. It is a delicious way to take in the greens!” Also switching coffee for green tea is recommended. “Even if you have one coffee in the morning, switch to green tea during the day. Little things like that make a big difference over time.”

What about alcohol?, I sheepishly ask. Karina says, “Aaaah, alcohol. When drinking take milk thistle supplements beforehand to help the liver neutralize the poisons in the alcohol.” And because I am curious, I ask, “How often do you detox?” Karina tells me she makes a point to detox at least 21 days a year, all in one stretch if she can or if not in 2 periods of approximately 10 days each.

Finally I ask Karina, who looks much younger than her years, what do you do to stay healthy and since I just turned 40 what would you recommend for me? Karina tells me, “In your 40’s you need to pay more attention to preventative care. Eat a fresh, plant-based diet. 90-95% plants are ideal. And get 30-45 minutes exercise a day. It doesn’t have to be a hard workout per se, but you must get your blood circulating.” And just like that I realize while I can never recreate Kamalaya at home in Shanghai…water with lemon, veggie smoothies, and regular exercise?Sure, I can do that. Thanks Karina.

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