- If you are seeking a natural digestive cleanse, is it normal to feel terrible?
- We review the literature to determine the common symptoms of detoxing and how to avoid unpleasant side effects.
During a detox your aim is to cleanse your system and eliminate toxic substances from your body. You might expect to feel great during this time, but it’s not unusual to experience a range of uncomfortable symptoms, from headaches to feelings of downright ill-health. Mild side effects are perfectly normal, but with a little knowledge, you can prevent some of the worst symptoms.
What to expect while detoxing
You may be detoxing to boost your health, but the cleansing process can feel pretty bad. So what are the side effects of detoxing?
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Disrupted sleep
- The need to use the bathroom
- Withdrawal symptoms
How do you stop detox symptoms?
You probably won’t be able to stop all symptoms, since the detoxification process can be complex. But you can certainly take some steps to help your body heal gently.
If you’ve had a colon cleanse, you may experience bloating, vomiting, and diarrhea. This can be dangerous if it leads to dehydration, so if you are losing fluids, make sure to replace them. Depending on what type of detox plan you are following, you may also find yourself passing urine or bowel movements more frequently, as your body eliminates toxins. This is usually safe, as long as you stay hydrated. Getting plenty of water should prevent headaches too.
Eat a whole-food diet
While a juice or water fast may seem like a good idea, it can hinder your body’s elimination process. That’s because your liver naturally filters toxins from your blood and carries them to your digestive system. If you are eating plenty of vegetables, the fibers will pick up these toxins and transport them through your bowel and into the toilet. But if you are fasting, they may be reabsorbed into your body. Fasting for a day or two is likely safe, but seek medical advice before fasting for a greater length of time.
Do it slowly
The idea of a quick detox can be tempting, but the symptoms may be hard to live with. Get to know how your body reacts to cleansing by taking it slowly at first. If you are taking cleansing capsules, always follow the directions on the bottle, and choose the lowest dose possible at first. Functional Medicine doctor, Isaac Eliaz, recommends moving slowly and patiently to avoid a detox crisis.
Eat healthy fats
If you are cutting out the foods you usually eat as part of your detox, it may cause cravings for fast-release carbohydrates and sugary snacks. Consuming nourishing fats while you detox can help eliminate cravings, as well as giving you the energy you need to get through the day. Plant-based examples of healthy fats include avocados, chia seeds, nuts, olive oil, and dark chocolate. Choose the foods you like to eat to make your detox more enjoyable.
Take light exercise
It’s normal to pass gas between 14 and 23 times a day. If your cleanse encourages regular bowel movements, that’s a good thing, since constipation can cause flatulence. But sometimes people get bloated and gassy while cleansing. If this is the case, exercise can help you become more regular but keep it light. If you’re consuming fewer calories than usual, it’s important to remember you will have less energy.
One of the main things to remember is that your body will be working hard at this time. Detox symptoms often include feelings of fatigue; after all, your body may have been storing toxins in the tissues for many years. Get the best out of this time by giving yourself a break. Help your body to heal by taking time off work if you can, at least for a few days, and putting your feet up at home to ease symptoms.
When considering a detox, think slow and long-lasting rather than fast and short-lived. Try to make lifestyle changes rather than engaging in aggressive cleansing techniques. Following a short detox plan for a couple of days can certainly make you feel better, but you are more likely to experience good overall health if you think about the long-term benefits. Consume a nourishing diet which is low in sugar and caffeine, and avoid drinking too much alcohol.