Home Cleansing & Detoxing An Easy, Gentle Cleanse for a First-Timer

An Easy, Gentle Cleanse for a First-Timer

written by Head Health Nutter March 12, 2008

So you’ve been reading about detoxing, cleansing and think your body might be telling you it needs assistance in detoxifying. You’ve tried a few detox tricks, including a couple super detox drinks, but it’s Spring (or Fall) and you’re in the mood for a deeper internal cleanse.

But you’ve never cleansed before! A little apprehensive, you want a safe, gentle and natural cleanse without trying the expensive cleansing programs currently on the market.

The following is such a cleanse based on my research in this area over the last few years. However, I highly recommend printing this out and consulting your doctor first as any cleanse (no matter how natural) may catalyze certain health conditions.

Step 1: Reduce Your Exposure to Toxins

This is probably the hardest step because you can’t possibly control every toxin you come in contact with (unless you want to live in a plastic bubble for a month). Try to plan for your cleanse, though. For instance, limit unnecessary downtown travels and walk the back streets rather than the main so you can avoid as many exhaust fumes as possible. If you have access to a swimming pool, choose other exercise during your cleanse to avoid chlorine.

Here is a fairly complete list:

  • Wean out stimulants (alcohol, cigarette smoke and white sugar) – try to cut out coffee but if you can’t, drink organic.
  • Eat organic foods when possible – wash thoroughly to remove pesticides & contaminants (use soap or hydrogen peroxide).
  • Eat all natural foods – come on, you can resist junk food for one month. No chips, pop, deep-fried foods (basically any take out) – check all ingredients and if you can’t pronounce it, it ain’t natural.
  • Reduce red meat intake (its bi-product is poisonous ammonia) to one palm-sized serving once a week – try lamb.
  • Drink distilled water.
  • Use natural or eco-friendly products – if you can eat the ingredients, the products are safe to use.

Step 2: Flush Toxins Out

Your body will naturally detoxify but try the following to accelerate the process (although keep in mind, the faster you release toxins, the more intense the detox side-effects – i.e. headaches, soreness, grumpiness, etc.):

  • Drink lots of herbal teas (like mint and peppermint to aid digestion, dandelion to increase bile flow, milk thistle for liver detox and chamomile to help reduce anxiety).
  • Drink lots of distilled water. I know, this is total repetition but it’s super important; distilled to reduce toxins and the water to flush.
  • Increase your complex carbs or veggies to about 65% of your diet. Round off your meals to approx. 25% protein & 10% healthy fats (from nuts, olive and flax seed oils, etc.)
  • Use chlorella supplements to cleanse your blood.
  • Take milk thistle supplements to cleanse the liver (but if you do, you don’t need the tea).
  • Eat detox-friendly and easy to digest foods (like garlic, onions, prunes, lemons, naturally fermented sauerkraut, green leaves – especially spinach, cabbage, kale, swiss chard & collards – papaya, pineapple, berries, etc.)
  • Exercise (cardio & strength-training) – aim for 4-6 times a week, alternating between mild, moderate and intense variations depending on your energy level.
  • Hot, steamy baths or saunas – once a week.
  • Stretch – integral for several reasons: it reduces muscle fatigue and soreness that is caused by the lactic acid (metabolic waste) released by muscle exertion; it also increases oxygen and blood flow, and decreases stress.
  • Drink green juices rich in detox-friendly foods – use as meal replacements.
  • Drink smoothies for breakfast – check out the “yummy recipes” category here on Live Lighter!
  • Do a partial fast once a week – try going without food from dinner Saturday until dinner on Sunday – or whenever works for you. Adjust your activity level on these days to compensate for the lack of food energy, like take leisurely walks, do gentle exercises, etc.

Step 3: Repair and Heal

There are different methods, at varying strengths, of repairing and healing your body. A Naturopathic Doctor is the best resource for your individual needs. However, for the first-timer, try:

  • Aloe vera juice – known to be one of the friendliest methods for intestinal repair.
  • Increase your soluble fiber intake (like psyllium fiber and foods, such as several types of beans, carrots, broccoli and Brussels sprouts)
  • Meditate – try for everyday, either in the morning or night, and as long as you can. Start with 10 minutes and practice till you’re up to one half hour.
  • Sleep – the best way to find your optimal amount of sleep is to get up at the same time every morning and go to bed when you’re tired. Because you’ve limited your stimulants, your natural sleep rhythms should emerge.

Step 4: Replenish

Not only does cleansing get rid of toxins and bad bacteria, it unfortunately also flushes out the good bacteria that live in our guts. These probiotics are essential for proper digestion. It is important to rebalance the gut flora ratio of beneficial vs. harmful bacteria (85% – 15%):

  • Consume probiotics eat naturally fermented foods like yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut.
  • Take acidophilus tablets (extra-strength).
  • Eat foods known to have prebiotics – unrefined wheat and barley, raw oats, soybeans, leek, asparagus, artichokes, etc.

Step 5: After Cleanse

Resist returning to a highly toxic lifestyle. Reserve stimulating substances for special occasions and incorporate as many of the above cleansing methods into your daily lifestyle habits as possible.

Duration and Tips: Try this gentle cleanse for one month, although doing it for longer will give you better results. However, we all know it’s hard to do anything perfectly the first time around so be kind to yourself and simply do your best. Use the experience from this cleanse to better prepare for next season’s cleanse, identifying challenges so you can figure out ways around them.

Additional Tips:

Cleansing should be an experience to look forward to and if you feel increasing distress as your cleanse date nears, you’re not ready for it yet. If you feel as if you’re denying yourself true pleasure, then you will create stress – which actually inhibits detoxification! You’ll know you’re ready for a cleanse when life has become too much of a burden. Then you’ll be motivated to lighten your load – starting with the toxins in your body so that you can live lighter in body, mind and soul.

Plan your cleanse. Reduce your commitments for the cleanse duration and guard against the demands of others. Plan your activity (be flexible when necessary, of course) as well as your meals a week in advance. Use the Internet to find recipes, Saturday to get groceries, and Sunday to prepare your lunches and slice your veggies for convenience. Oh, ya, throwing on some tunes and dancing around the kitchen makes this food prep time super fun.

Good luck, First-Timers! Would you like more posts like this delivered to your computer? Subscribe to Live Lighter’s RSS feed or via email!

I hope you’ve found this post helpful and if you liked it, please Digg it, Facebook it, Stumble it, etc. – it’d be mighty nice of you. 🙂

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Denise March 12, 2008 at 9:14 am

Ok, this i my kind of cleanse. I did this about 5 years ago, and never went back to the other way of eating again. Reducing red meat and getting enough fiber is easy peasy for a vegetarian, but otherwise, this post describes how i eat!

Thanks Steph for reminding me of the basics, and reaffirming my sometimes hard to stay on track way of eating!

Kelsey March 12, 2008 at 10:59 pm

Thanks for the post! I will definitely use some of the suggestions, it was just what I was looking for.

Steph March 16, 2008 at 11:31 am

Glad to be of service, Ladies!

Have fun, enjoy and let me know how it goes. 🙂

Kristen April 8, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Thank you for all of this helpful info! I have done a doctor-guided cleanse a few times but am looking for something to do on my own that is more gentle, but most of what I find online are cleanse systems to buy, or books. It is so nice that you have posted this information!

Stephanie Miller April 9, 2009 at 5:49 pm

You’re most welcome, Kristen!

cleanse diet October 30, 2009 at 4:24 pm

I suffered from stomach pain and burning mostly, couldn’t sleep well and just hated those extra pounds I couldn’t get rid of no matter what I did. Now I stumbled upon this system that is easy and it doesn’t require expensive medication or difficult exercises.

Head Health Nutter October 31, 2009 at 7:06 pm

That’s great, Cleanse Diet! So what’s this system you speak of?

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uzma January 1, 2011 at 11:39 am


All this sounds so wonderfully motivating. I would really like to know who out of us struggling with weight problems , has really managed to loose weight following this cleansing and high protein diet. Please do respond as i am desperate to hear encouraging comments .

Head Health Nutter January 1, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Hi uzma, thanks for reading Live Lighter and for commenting. I was able to not only lose my excess weight by cleansing but also able to maintain it for about 3 years with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

However, if you’ve been reading some of my most recent posts, life got in the way this year and I’ve fallen off the health wagon. I gained back a bunch of it over the last few months and I’m sure that if I had of chosen to cleanse earlier, I wouldn’t have transgressed so far.

I’m planning another cleanse/diet later this month, though, so maybe we can encourage one another? 🙂

uzma January 2, 2011 at 3:46 am

HI Steph.
I was unable to loose any weight last year despite regular exercise and balanced diet due to my underlying hypothyroidism as i never can sweat.
This year i will take up your recommended plan plus steam baths and hope for some good results.
Three cheers for a happy and healthy start of a wonderful new year.

Head Health Nutter January 3, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Thank you for your encouraging words, uzma! 🙂 We WILL make it back and enjoy the journey, too. Cheers to 2011 and all the wonderful changes we’ll encounter!

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Melissa March 4, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Just a questions…. Why do you suggest lamb? Is it because it has less toxins as a result of its shorter lifespan? I personally find lamb slow to digest (it sits in my stomach a long time) which is why I am curious. Also, what do you think about smoking cannabis during a detox? (I do not smoke any other substances). Some people it has a detrimental effect on the body similar to tobacco (since one is inhaling smoke), others that it does not have the same carcinogenic/toxic properties. Just wondering what you thought since you specifically mentioned cigarettes.

Head Health Nutter March 6, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Hi Melissa, my Naturopathic Doc suggested lamb for my elimination diet because he said it was easier to digest, which I’ve found to be true for me.

I also asked my ND about smoking cannabis on a detox and he said it was ok if you smoke it on a regular basis – but only because it would otherwise cause stress (which inhibits detoxification) in a habitual smoker and cleansing can be stressful in itself. Personally, I think as long as you know the source and trust it’s ONLY cannabis, it’s fine to do on a detox (in moderation – whatever that means for you). However, the smoke from inhaling IS damaging to the lungs (they weren’t designed for any kind of smoke) but there are smokeless ways to receive the healing benefits of cannabis: eating it (there are tons of recipes available) & vaporizers (good ones are about $300, tho).

Thanks for the great questions, Melissa! 🙂

Melissa March 4, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Oof, sorry for typos/missing words on my comments tonight, I am viewing the site on a small screen and it’s difficult to review what I have written.

Tiffany April 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Hello Stephanie,

I just came across your site as I was looking for answers as to how to come off my first 3 day fast. Now, I saw that you suggest not to do a water only fast, but not having known that, I’m already into my 3rd day 🙂 I also did not know that I should have prepared for this in advance… oh well. I was feeling great until close to the end of my 2nd day when aches and pains started to set in. I’ve been really sluggish and have headaches and back aches all day, but nothing really unbearable. I did see another’s comment about headaches being caused by lack of sugar and yours about needing nutrients in order to detox correctly, so I just pureed an apple and added lots of water, which I am drinking now.

My question would be what are the best steps for me to take now. Should I keep drinking this watered down juice for the duration of the day? When is a 3 day fast supposed to be broken, in the evening on the 3rd day or the following morning? And what’s the best thing to break it with? I was actually planning on continuing to “fast” for the next few weeks, but in a different capacity. I figured that I would just drink fruit and vegetable juices for a few days, and then return to solid fruits and veggies and whole grains while taking these herbal detox pills that I bought at Whole Foods, called First Cleanse. Does that sound like a good plan? Sorry for all the questions, but you seem so knowledgeable and I don’t have anyone else to ask. I’m thankful for finding your sight!

Head Health Nutter April 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Hi Heather, thanks for your questions. If you’re generally healthy and don’t take in a lot of chemicals (like from smoking, drinking, etc.) and you’re not experiencing unbearable side effects, then you’re alright.

Your plan sounds good to me. Continue drinking watered down juice until you’re ready to come off your fast. To prep your body for solid whole foods, you can blend them (here are a bunch of recipes: http://livelighter.org/category/healthy-recipes/green-detox-meals/).

Your plan overall sounds great. I encourage experimentation since everyone’s different; you’re looking for whatever works for you. Please come back and let us know how your plan worked!


Tiffany April 10, 2011 at 12:59 pm

One more question… What are the guidelines for the steps above as far as how long to do each, specifically repair and heal, and replenish?

Head Health Nutter April 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Good question, Tiffany. The answer is really individualized depending on how long you’ve been cleansing and your own specific needs. Generally, though, for a 3 day fast, I’d suggest anywhere from 2 weeks to a month to repair, heal and replenish.

Tiffany April 12, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Can I ask you one more thing? If I’ve just done the 3 day water only detox followed by 3 days of juicing and water, followed by gently easing into raw fruits and veggies, yogurt, nuts, grains, etc, would I need to even take that First Cleanse herbal product that I bought? I held off on it because it’s something you do while eating, but an now concerned that it might be too much after doing this detox. I’d appreciate your thoughts. Thank you!!!

Head Health Nutter April 12, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Hey Tiffany, hope the fasting is treating you well! To be on the safe side, I really don’t think you need the cleansing product this time around. (from my experience, cleansing works best if you do it on a regular – such as seasonal – basis)

When you’re ready to use the cleansing product, I’d suggest getting the go ahead from a health practitioner you trust and who knows your general health condition.

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RaphaelF December 3, 2011 at 11:42 am

I’ve used the Lady Soma Fiber Cleanse for several years now. I do the full-blown Lady Soma Detox about every 3 months – but in between, I take the Lady Soma Fiber Cleanse. I believe it’s the best on the market for a gentle and reliable cleansing. Won’t dehydrate resulting in only greater problems later, but instead aids in normalizing proper bowel function. A must have!

Head Health Nutter December 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Hi RaphealF, thanks for sharing!

TiffanyD January 28, 2012 at 11:57 am

Hi. I am a first timer knowing its time for a change! So Im sorry for questions that my seem simple.
So should I start at a month? or since you had said to limit stress, and I am a smoker and a major soda head(so much so I will give up smoking for another soda!), should I maybe go for 1-2weeks. then try again in a month to do 2-3weeks and so on?
And Im seeing some posts about 3days of water only.. is that a differant type of cleanse?
What I was thinking was to do:
Breakfast-juice smoothie/Lunch- salads(hoping romane and spinach, grilled chicken apples(or cranberry), vinigrate maybe some kind of walnut or almond) Dinner-Green juices and snacks between meals as broccoli/carrots/or fruit(any suggestion of food would be great 🙂 ) and of course LOTS OF WATER.
So does this sound right or have I missed something? Thank you!

Head Health Nutter January 30, 2012 at 1:59 am

Hi Tiffany, thanks for reading Live Lighter and for your very excellent questions!

Everything you’ve mentioned in your plan sounds good. The above outline for cleansing is an ideal cleanse for a beginner, but really it’s up to you as an individual how you’d like to approach your cleanse. I like your idea of working your way up to a month-long cleanse – I think it’d be less stressful to your body, especially if you’re a smoker and soda head as those stimulants will decrease the effectiveness of your cleanse but any cleansing will help and may even prepare your body and mind for an even stricter cleanse(s) when you’re ready.

As for the water fast, this is a hard core undertaking, placing even more stress on the body/mind/emotions so I’d suggest working up to it after you’ve mastered the more mild forms of cleansing (like this one in this post).

As for food suggestions check out these Live Lighter categories:




And you might find a few different ones in: http://livelighter.org/category/cleansing-detoxing/green-detox/

Hope this helps you, Tiffany; and try to have fun with this challenge! 🙂

Mariana March 5, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Awesome this seems totally doable! Thanks for the great simple tips, not too crazy or too in depth for a first timer like me 🙂 Have this book marked for when I’m ready to begin!!


Veasna May 15, 2012 at 8:29 pm

I’m easing into a cleanse VERY slowly. I’d like to beable to give up coffee before anything. Can I subsitute sugar with honey or the flavor syrup? I want to easy off the sugar first.

Head Health Nutter May 16, 2012 at 10:04 am

Hi Veasna, thanks for your comment. Easing into your cleanse is a very good idea – it’ll be much easier on your body. And yes, natural sweeteners are the perfect substitute for sugar. For my 3 day juice fast (it was in the middle of this cleanse), I used the the master cleanse (water, cayenne pepper and maple syrup).

Have fun cleansing! 🙂

Nichole October 13, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Hi! I’ve been wanting to do a cleanse for a while and finally got “serious” about it. I purchased the First Cleanse last night at whole foods and thought that might be a bit too much… So I found your wonderful website and thought maybe I could just start with drinking teas and distilled water and watching what I eat– cutting back on sugar, poultry (I don’t eat red meat) bad carbs and fats. I bought some green juices and more whole grains. My question is how to integrate the teas. I have Milk Thistle, Dandelion Root, Red Clover. Everyday Detox and Ginger teas. I’m not sure if I need to drink a cup of each every day and then drink 6-8 glasses of distilled water? Even though I don’t each very much little snacks here and there and snack at dinnertime, I don’t think I’ll be able to drink this much on a daily basis. I also purchased FiberSmart which I want to take 1-2 times a day (with 8oz. of water). Would you please give me some sort of cleansing/detox plan to stick to for 1 wk- 30 days?? Thank you so much!! Sorry for the lengthy e-mail– I’m lost! 🙂

Head Health Nutter October 18, 2012 at 11:42 am

Hi Nicole, great to hear you’re interested in cleansing! My apologies for the late response, life gets in the way sometimes…

I hope you didn’t wait for my answer! You seem to be on the right track – for first time cleansers (especially those who have either food or substance addictions), I always suggest you cut out as much of the “acidic” foods/drinks as you can and replace them with the more “alkaline” food/drinks. Which is what you’re doing!

As of right now, I’m not a licensed healthcare professional so I’m uncomfortable providing anyone with a cleansing/detox plan. What I recommend is to do the research (if you lack time, all your teas and products should have recommended doses on the boxes as guidelines), and try different things as you go along. Everyone is different, so it’s really important that you do what’s good for you.

I’d also recommend getting the guidance of a licensed healthcare professional (most MDs don’t know much about cleansing/detoxing but all Naturopathic Docs do) so that you have someone more knowledgeable by your side.

If you can’t find/afford a healthcare professional, then this is even more reason to do the research so you know what the teas and products are supposed to do for your body. Then, like myself, you can come up with your own plan. Try it out and see how your body reacts (I’d give it at least a week or two). If you’re having any adverse reactions, see a doc (of course, there are some unpleasant detoxing symptoms)! But you should be fine if you do what you’re suggesting: a light cleanse/detox.

Actually, I believe doing regular light cleanses (say once every new season) is safer (and in the long run, more effective) for your body than doing one big one.

I hope this helps you get started on (or continue) creating your own safe, researched and effective personalized health plan. One tip: don’t worry too much about being perfect – yes, try your best but you can work up to perfection with each cleanse/detox you do.

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Chloe March 9, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Hi, Alot of the juice cleanses I have read have said to, basically, organise a whole lot of downtime during a cleanse. How would someone who works full time get around this? I am a manager of a retail store and worry about how a cleanse might affect my performance.

Head Health Nutter March 10, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Hi Chloe, thanks for your question. The severity of your detox symptoms depends on how “polluted” you are with chemicals and waste. Yes, you may be fatigued, irritable and have headaches, but maybe not.

The other (main) reason health pros suggest a vaca during a detox is that your body is usually “on” or “off”, “relaxed” or “active.” When you’re active, your body is using all its energy to function. To detox, your body has to be relaxed so the energy can be used to process and release.

Emily May 22, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I am currently doing a food cleanse for a month. I cut out dairy (except for occasional greek yogurt), added sugars, meat, processed foods, and breads/pastas/etc. I am drinking a lot of water and herbal teas and doing moderate exercise. I am curious if it would be okay to do a juice cleanse following my food cleanse? (I plan to continue eating fairly similar to my cleanse for the next few months).

Head Health Nutter June 13, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Hey Emily, your body will be more ready for additional cleansing after your food cleanse, so yes, I think doing a juice cleanse follow up would be advantageous! But really, you know your body best, and with any diet or exercise change, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor. All the best with your cleansing adventures!

jackie August 3, 2013 at 9:29 pm

hi i found this website because i am needing to change my life. i am currently over 350 pounds and recovering from long term steriod use as well as other medicines and really need to eat healthier. thanks for your website i will be visiting daily for encouragement. thanks, jackie

mrs jmstanhope November 19, 2013 at 11:21 am

I sent for a free trial of the product cleanse xtrem,I have not ordered any replacements or received any, BUT the mamount of £95.95p has been taken from my visa a/c.I want it refunfing straight away.I am an old age pensioner and definitley cannot aford anything like that, apart I have NEVER given you any permission to take money from my a/c & want it refunded straight away,especially no goods have been sent apart from the 1st trial offer,which does not agree with me anyway.A truialis suposed to see if it agrees ect.it does not give you permission to take money from my a/c especially without any goods.Please see to this IMEDIATELY,thanks Mrs j m stanhope.

Head Health Nutter November 19, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Hi Mrs. jmstanhope, I’m sorry that you’re having trouble with this company, but Live Lighter has no affiliation with them and I cannot help you in this matter. Please note that In this post, “An Easy, Gentle Cleanse for the First-Timer,” I outline a product-free way to cleanse, and recommend it as most cleansing products on the market have extra “stuff” in them that I do not recommend ingesting.

You’ll have to contact the company directly. I’m sure you’ll get this all sorted out… in Canada, when this type of thing happens, we call our credit card companies and they refund the amount taken and go after the company themselves as a fraudulent payment.

All the best.

Sophia January 14, 2014 at 6:44 am

Cleansing is indeed very important to do. Vegetable and fruit are a big help. I always find my fiber intake lacking so to substitute for it, I take Lady Soma Fiber Cleanse is my complete fiber solution. I use this as a a daily fiber supplement. Check it out http://www.ladysoma.com/lady-soma-fiber-cleanse-with-probiotics.html

Head Health Nutter January 24, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Thanks for sharing, Sophia!

kristina smith May 24, 2014 at 7:47 am

Great article Stephanie! We’ve included a link in our curated guide at http://www.detoxdietandcleanse.com

Head Health Nutter May 27, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Thank you for reading, Kristina, and for sharing Live Lighter’s info in your guide!

serena June 30, 2014 at 5:06 pm

I don’t exactly need to lose weight, but I need to tone up. What do you recommend I do? Do I detox with those green drinks, what kinds of juices should I be using?


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