How to improve gut health with a gut cleanse?

Gut health is vital in keeping overall health in check. Without a healthy digestive system, you may experience discomforts that may hinder you from fulfilling your everyday responsibilities.

Worse, you may develop diseases that require medication and maintenance. One way to prevent such things is to have a habit of cleansing your gut.

Some acute digestive problems are caused by consuming unhealthy foods, overeating, stress, or infections. These are pretty much minor; however, if left unattended, they may develop into chronic diseases. Hence, the first step to a healthy gut is gut cleansing. 

What is gut cleanse? 

Gut cleanse is also commonly known as colon cleansing [1]. It is often associated when a person is being prepared for medical procedures like colonoscopy [2]. However, it is also used for detoxification–making your gut clean

Although the idea of colon cleansing and gut cleansing is the same, they have two different procedures. The colon cleansing term is typically used to refer to the process being done before a medical procedure.

Large amounts of water, around 16 gallons or 60 liters, are flushed into your colon through a tube inserted into the rectum. The water is left to sit in the colon briefly before being removed–an enema.

However, gut cleansing is more commonly used to cleanse the gut by consuming food and liquid, changing lifestyle, and taking supplements or herbs.  

On the other hand, gut cleansing is unnecessary since your digestive system and bowel can clean that part of your body on their own.

They can technically eliminate bacteria and waste material from your body. But, of course, it would not hurt to help your digestive system in cleansing, especially if you feel bloated, experiencing different stomach issues and have not pooped for days.

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How do you clean your gut naturally?

While colon cleansing is much more on the medical side, you can simply cleanse by changing your health habits through gut cleansing. Here are some of the steps in gut cleansing: 

1. Modify your diet

Consuming fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can optimize digestion and naturally cleanse the gut.

Foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi introduce beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, that support a balanced gut ecosystem.

2. Drink plenty of water

Drinking plenty of water is essential as the concept of cleansing is to flush out some fluids or wastes. Water helps digestion and bowel movement and ensures you get all the nutrients from your consumed food. Not only that, but water can also help lessen bad bacteria that cause intestinal issues [3]. 

3. Manage stress

Stress can cause many health problems, including digestive system issues. In fact, reducing stress can help improve your gut microbiome.

Here’s what happens typically when you are stressed: your body enters fight or flight mode. It also shuts down any system you can’t use to fight or run, including your digestion; hence, it gives you digestive issues. 

4. Avoid sugar, saturated fats and preservatives

To improve your gut health, avoid sugar, saturated fats, and preservatives as much as possible. However, when doing a gut cleansing, you must strictly avoid all three substances. This is because sugar, saturated fats, and preservatives put toxins in your gut

5. Try prebiotics and probiotics

Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria found in supplements and some fermented foods. They can restore and maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Meanwhile, prebiotics, acting as food for probiotics, are non-digestible fibers that can be found in foods like garlic, onions, and asparagus.

6. Get better sleep

Having better sleep can enhance your overall health, including your gut health. In fact, a study proves that having enough sleep affects your diverse gut microbiome. When you get better sleep, your gut can have diverse and abundant bacteria, making your digestive system efficient in functioning [4]. 

7. Adopt healthy lifestyle practices

Regular exercise promotes healthy bowel movements and supports a balanced gut ecosystem. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on gut health. Find techniques that work for you, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, to keep stress in check.

8. Create a timeline and method 

In order to successfully cleanse your gut, you have to create when and how you will do it. Your timeline should depend on your lifestyle and schedule, as it can be tricky. Your bowel movement may change and can disrupt your regular days. So, creating a timeline and method is a must. 

9. Add a supplement or herbs 

As mentioned above, oral supplements or herbs can help cleanse your colon or gut. You can also try to find brands that work for you. This can help you cleanse on a regular basis, as you can take them anytime, anywhere [5].

add supplements or herbs

How do you know if your gut needs cleansing?

Basically, people who have poor gut health should do a gut cleanse every once in a while, depending on their condition. There are signs that you can observe to know if you need gut cleansing: 

1. Your poop is not normal

When your poop does not look right, it is a sign that you have poor gut health. But how do you know that your poop is normal, right? It is more on the frequency of your bowel movements.

The normal pooping times should be around three times per day to three times per week. However, it is still different for all of us. You can also ask for a fecalysis if you need to be assured that you don’t have some digestive issues [6]. 

Some common symptoms telling you you need gut cleansing are frequent inflammation, poor nutrient absorption, and cell dysfunction. Additionally, struggling to lose weight can be a major issue that a gut cleanse can help with. 

2. You feel moody, anxious, or depressed

Serotonin, a happy hormone, is a major factor in affecting mood, sleep, and appetite. It is primarily made in the gut.

Your gut helps supply tryptophan–a nutrient needed to make serotonin–into your brain. Hence, your diet plays an important role in making you feel good and supporting your mental health.

Be sure to eat bananas, chicken, turkey, milk, and eggs, as these are all rich in tryptophan. 

3. You feel stressed

When you are stressed, your gut must support you, but it may worsen if you have an unhealthy gut due to low numbers of good bacteria.

The hormone cortisol levels in the body increase when you are stressed. This can also eventually lead to depression and other fatal health issues. To avoid this, prepare and eat a healthy diet or do gut cleansing occasionally to remove toxins in your body. 

4. You experience bloating, constipation, diarrhea, pain, or excessive gas

These are all the most common signs of gut dysbiosis–an imbalance of gut microbiota that makes your gut unhealthy.

When you have an imbalance of gut bacteria or a poor intestinal ecosystem, you may experience bloating, constipation, diarrhea, pain, or excessive gas. You can aid your gut by cleansing it [7]. 

5. You are craving for more sugar

Consuming foods that are high in refined sugar or processed foods empowers your bad bacteria, causing them to multiply. When this happens, you crave more sugar.

Moreover, high levels of bad bacteria feed on your gut wall, which is crucial to you because this may lead to leaky gut syndrome. 

6. You encounter food intolerances

If you have food intolerances, there must be something wrong with your gut. Although this is not a life-threatening problem, it is a great relief to remove it, right?

Some of its symptoms are bloating, gas, diarrhea, pain, nausea, or even skin problems and headaches. A gut cleanse may help restore quality and balance gut bacteria

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What foods can you eat during a gut cleanse?

If you’re looking to support and rejuvenate your gut health, the foods you choose play a pivotal role. Let’s discuss some food choices that not only taste great but also bolster your gut health.

Fresh vegetablesLeafy greens: Spinach, kale, and chard come packed with fiber, which assists in moving waste through your digestive tract.
Root vegetables: Carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes are not only flavorful but also rich in essential vitamins and minerals.
FruitsBerries: Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries have antioxidants and fiber.
Apples: They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and with its pectin content, it also supports gut health.
Probiotic-rich foodsYogurt: Always opt for plain, unsweetened versions to sidestep added sugars.
Fermented vegetables: Think sauerkraut and kimchi. These veggies introduce beneficial bacteria into your digestive system.
Whole grainsQuinoa: A versatile grain that’s gluten-free and packed with protein.
Oats: A bowl of oatmeal can be both comforting and a boon for your digestive health.
Hydrating liquidsWater: Essential for digestion and absorption, make sure you’re drinking enough throughout the day.
Herbal teas: Opt for teas like chamomile or peppermint, which can be soothing for the stomach.
Healthy fatsAvocado: It’s creamy, delicious, and great for gut health.
Olive oil: Drizzle it on salads or use it for cooking; this oil is a gut-friendly choice.

Remember, the key is choosing natural foods, minimally processed, and loaded with the nutrients your gut craves. Listen to your body and be mindful of how different foods make you feel.

Is it safe to do a gut cleanse?

Gut cleansing can be safe when conducted appropriately and with the right methods. Generally, simple dietary changes, increased water intake, and lifestyle adjustments are safe for most people. These methods focus on improving diet quality, enhancing hydration, and reducing stress—all beneficial to gut health.

However, more invasive procedures like colon irrigation or aggressive detox diets can carry risks and should be approached with caution.

It’s essential to consult healthcare professionals before starting any new health regimen, especially one involving gut cleansing, to ensure it aligns with your individual health needs and conditions.

consult healthcare professionals

Risks and disadvantages of gut cleansing

While gut cleansing can offer benefits like improved digestive health and a sense of wellbeing, there are potential risks and disadvantages [8], [9], particularly with more intensive cleansing methods:

1. Disruption of gut flora

Aggressive cleansing techniques, especially those involving laxatives or enemas, can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria. The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in digestion, immune function, and overall health. Disrupting this balance can lead to digestive issues and decreased immune function.

2. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance

Procedures such as colon irrigation can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. The rapid removal of fluids from the body can lead to symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and in severe cases, kidney damage.

3. Dependency on laxatives

Regular use of laxatives for gut cleansing can lead to dependency, making it difficult for the bowel to function normally without them. This can exacerbate chronic constipation and complicate digestive health.

4. Physical discomfort

Gut cleansing techniques, particularly those involving fasting or drastic dietary changes, can lead to discomfort, fatigue, irritability, and weakness. These effects can interfere with daily activities and overall quality of life.

5. Nutrient deficiencies

Extended periods of restrictive dieting or fasting can result in nutrient deficiencies. This is particularly concerning for diets lacking in protein, vitamins, and minerals, which are crucial for maintaining body functions.

6. Potential for misinformation

Many gut cleanse regimens are marketed with unsupported claims and lack scientific backing. This misinformation can lead individuals to adopt practices that are not only ineffective but potentially harmful.

If you are considering a gut cleanse, opt for methods that are gentle and supported by scientific evidence. Focus on dietary improvements, adequate hydration, and lifestyle changes that promote stress reduction and physical activity.

Final takeaways

Maintaining optimal gut health is fundamental to our holistic well-being. While our body naturally detoxifies, modern-day stressors and dietary habits can strain this system. 

Gut cleansing, which differs from colon cleansing, provides an approach to supporting digestive health. Adopting a diet rich in fiber, probiotics, natural foods, stress management, and healthy lifestyle choices can promote a balanced gut environment.

Recognizing signs, such as altered bowel patterns or cravings, can indicate a need for gut rejuvenation. Embracing these practices ensures a healthy gut and contributes to our overall health and vitality.

FAQs

How can I clean my gut and improve my gut health?

To clean your gut and improve gut health, adopt a balanced diet rich in fiber, fermented foods, and prebiotic foods, and consider reducing processed foods and sugars. Regularly drinking water, managing stress, and avoiding antibiotics when not necessary can further promote a healthy gut environment.

What is the fastest way to cleanse your gut?

The fastest way to cleanse your gut is by drinking plenty of water, increasing fiber intake through fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and temporarily cutting out processed foods, caffeine, and sugar. Probiotic supplements or fermented foods can also help restore beneficial gut bacteria.

How do you clear a bad gut?

To clear a bad gut, focus on eliminating triggers like processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and excessive alcohol, and incorporate gut-supporting foods like bone broth, fermented foods, and fiber-rich vegetables. 

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[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/colon-cleansing
[2] https://www.health.com/colon-cleanse-7724744
[3] https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/152/1/171/6395031
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6779243/
[5] https://www.healthcanal.com/nutrition/how-to-clean-your-gut
[6] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/colon-cleansing/faq-20058435
[7] https://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/nutrition/the-14day-gut-cleanse-that-actually-works/news-story/2ccf547974ee8f3a9c6e787a0f1320d0
[8] https://www.henryford.com/blog/2023/01/colon-cleanses 
[9] https://www.nirvananaturopathy.com/blog/know-the-benefits-and-possible-risks-of-colon-cleansing

Photograph: Billion Photos/Shutterstock
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