Understanding Detox on Holiday

Karina StewartKarina Stewart

Karina Stewart, co-founder of Kamalaya in Thailand has twenty-two years of experience in the study and practice of diverse Asian healing and spiritual traditions. Inspired by her mother's interest in natural healing, meditation and yoga, Karina founded a health centre in Kathmandu, Nepal prior to opening Kamalaya. Her vision behind the award-winning retreat in Koh Samui is integral wellness programmes that aim to access the inner healing power within each individual and support a harmonious integration of heart, body, mind, and spirit


Interview with Detox Expert

What is detox essentially?

'Detoxification' refers to the body's ability to neutralise and safely eliminate harmful toxins. The presence of toxins in the body is a very common root of illness and Kamalaya's Detox & Rejuvenation programmes are designed to enhance the body's innate ability to handle these toxins. While it is unrealistic and virtually impossible to eliminate toxins completely, the body can be supported in its natural function of detoxification so it is better able to cope with the daily stresses of modern life and thereby establish a higher level of health and vitality.

How important is diet for effective detoxing?

There are many misunderstandings and misconceptions surrounding detox. Typically, people think detox equals fasting. When we fast, however, our body is deprived of essential nutrients, some of which are required for effective detoxification. These nutrients, which include antioxidants and amino acids, help your body to efficiently metabolise and clear out waste. Without those key nutrients, the liver cannot efficiently deactivate the components of the detoxification process and what is left are very active, very toxic by-products.

Some supplementation is required, but many of the necessary nutrients can be obtained through a carefully planned diet, which is one reason why food is such an important part of our detox programmes at Kamalaya. The aim of the detox diet is to minimise toxic intake, reduce the load on the digestive system, provide key nutrients and support the metabolism.

Our detox menus are extensive, interesting and varied - everything from Thai-inspired salads and curries to adaptations of western favourites, along with juices, teas, smoothies and coolers.

Discover more Detox Programmes

Tell us about the Kamalaya Detox programme?

Our philosophy at Kamalaya is very much about nurturing change. This is not a punishing system. Nurturing yields a much better result and is more in harmony with life principles. Kamalaya, with its team of multi-disciplinary practitioners and menu of over 70 holistic therapies, offers one of the most comprehensive and well-researched detox programmes available. The medically-based programme is supported by skilled and intuitive practitioners who can help guests through both the physical and emotional aspects of the detox experience.

The colon, liver, kidneys, skin, heart and lungs are all involved in the detoxification process. Our programmes target all of these organs, however we place special emphasis on supporting the liver, as it is the primary organ for detoxification. The liver filters the blood continuously and so its function has a great impact on overall health. It's therefore important to give our liver a regular break to clean out, reset and recharge.

Guests receive a specialised detox consultation before starting their programme. This allows us to establish clear goals and, where necessary, customise the programme for the individual. Based on the latest research and supervised by qualified naturopaths, the programmes provide key nutrients from a combination of food, nutritional supplements and herbs, together with supportive treatments and therapies that activate and enhance the metabolism at the cellular level. Most guests experience truly remarkable results on both a physical and emotional level.


massage at Kamalya

A vital essence oil massage at Kamalaya

What are your top three detox tips?

1. If possible, plan your detox so that you can ease in and out of it. Begin to eliminate, or at least minimise, your intake of things like alcohol, coffee, sugar, meat and dairy about two weeks before your detox. After your detox, introduce them back into your diet gradually, over a period of two weeks. You may even be inspired to reduce or eliminate some of them from your diet.

2. Leave work behind! Your mind and emotions will benefit more from a detox if you can eliminate stress, distraction and over stimulation.

3. Integrate some of the things you learned into your daily life. Trying to do everything is not realistic. Just identify two or three healthy habits and commit to those. It could be changes in your diet, or making time for something like pranayama or meditation. Once you have mastered those changes, introduce some more.

How can you prepare for a Detox holiday?

In order to prepare for a detox, we suggest reducing or eliminating your intake of the following during the fortnight prior to your arrival at Kamalaya:
- Alcohol
- Coffee
- Meat
- Refined carbohydrates (white breads, pasta, white rice, pastries)
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Dairy
- Eggs
- Processed foods
- Hydrogenated oils (most vegetable oils)
- Fried foods

We also recommend increasing your consumption of the following:
- Fresh fruits
- Fresh vegetables
- Whole grains (oats, whole wheat, rye, barley)
- Legumes (lentils and beans)
- Olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Green tea, oolong tea
- Water

Also, plan ahead so that you will not be disturbed by work or any major personal decisions during your detox. Detox is a time for letting go on all levels, so try to do all that you can to support the process.

Find something fun that you will enjoy so it doesn't become a chore but be prepared to work hard if you want results.

Can you overdo a Detox programme?

Sometimes guests want to combine their detox with daily intense physical workouts. This is something we discourage; it puts too much of a strain on the body's systems, which interrupts the detoxification process. However, appropriate exercise is highly recommended during detox as it gets the blood moving. We suggest 20 to 30 minutes of low intensity cardio every day. This is enough to get the blood circulating through the organs, including the brain. Most of the active free radicals are stored in our fat deposits, and almost 50% of our brain is composed of fat! Some of the Asian practices - such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Pranayama and gentle Yoga - help to support both the physical and emotional aspects of detox, so we encourage our guests to join the complimentary group classes.

The other area where people can sometimes push to extremes is around food. Either not enough - as in fasting or a strict liquid diet - or too much. While the proper foods support the detox process, you need to keep it light. If you overeat - even from our Detox menus - you will hinder the detoxification process.

It is also important to understand that detox is sometimes not appropriate. For example, detox is not recommended if you are pregnant or breast feeding, have recently had surgery, are very depleted or exhausted, or if your immune system is weakened. These people need to repair, restore and rebuild, and detox is moving in the opposite direction.


Ocean at Kamalaya

The ocean view from the spa at Kamalaya

What feedback do you get from your clients after they have experienced one of your fitness programmes? 

Clients always feedback that my classes are challenging and invigorating but enjoyable at the same time. I not only make sure my clients are worked hard to achieve their goals but also that they have fun at the same time, exposing them to different exercises to introduce variety.

What are the benefits of Detoxing?

Following a detox, all of your organs function better and your entire level of health is improved. Your metabolism, your immune system, your brain and your digestive system all function more efficiently, hormonal balance is supported and any inflammation you may have is reduced. Some of the common immediate physical benefits our guests report are: -feeling revitalised and more energetic

-losing weight

-better sleep patterns

- improvements in skin conditions, digestion and allergy symptoms

- headaches disappearing

Guests tell us they feel more confident, lighter, more optimistic, happier, and often they say it was life changing. People experience Kamalaya in intrinsically different ways, often taking away more than they expected. Beyond the improvements in health and well-being, Kamalaya's holistic blend of place, people, inspired cuisine and healing often leads to self-discovery and awareness. It is quite natural for the detoxification process to affect the emotions, and often things that have been repressed will rise to the surface. The detox process offers you the opportunity to work with what arises and that can lead to real personal transformation.

How can you prolong the benefits after a Detox programme?

As well as providing an effective detox experience, we aim to inspire our guests to live healthier lives when they return home. This is a key part of our philosophy. Kamalaya Naturopaths recommend specific nutritional and lifestyle changes to support long-term vibrant health and we have optional healthy cooking classes for our guests. We also hope that our extensive and delicious range of detox dishes will inspire our guests to continue eating healthily when they return home.

What we do on a regular basis has the greatest impact on our health. Because the liver is such a pivotal organ it needs to be supported and cared for on a daily basis throughout our life. How can you do that? The best place to start is with food. Aim to eat more nutrient-dense foods - that means lots of fresh vegetables, especially the leafy greens, and organic if possible - and less animal products. The liver loves the body to be alkaline, so a great way to start each day is with a glass of warm water and fresh lemon juice. Not only does it alkalinise but it also helps to get your digestive juices flowing. You can also supplement with certain herbs that support the liver, such as milk thistle and dandelion. Your emotions and stress can affect your liver. So, what are you doing on a daily basis to nourish yourself emotionally and keep your stress down?

Food is the most powerful preventative medicine available to us. If you eat well most of the time, get sufficient exercise, learn to manage your stress and detox at least once a year, you will have the health, vitality and emotional balance to enjoy life and experience your full potential.


Walkway at Kamalya

The walkway through the lilyponds to the beach at Kamalaya

What are the biggest sins that most people commit with regards to their health?

Looking for the 'quick fix' is a major one. What we really need is a solid foundation of the basics - that means eating a healthy, nutrient-dense diet most of the time, exercising regularly, getting sufficient sleep, making time for relaxation, and managing stress effectively. No amount of supplements, therapies or high-tech strategies can replace those basics.

Is Detox predominantly for women or are men starting to realise the benefits?

We actually have fairly equal numbers of men and women on our detox programmes. While they come from a diverse range of lifestyles, many of them lead busy, stressful and exhausting lives.


For more details see the Kamalaya Detox programme
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