Do juice cleanses cause diarrhea?

Juice cleanses have become an increasingly popular way for people to detox their bodies and lose weight quickly. Often lasting 3-5 days, these cleanses involve replacing solid foods with fresh fruit and vegetable juices. While many people rave about the benefits of juice cleanses, one of the most common side effects is diarrhea. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at whether juice cleanses really do cause diarrhea and other digestive issues.

What is a Juice Cleanse?

A juice cleanse is a type of diet that involves consuming only fresh fruit and vegetable juices for a set period of time, usually between 3-5 days. The goal is to flood the body with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants while eliminating toxins and promoting weight loss.

Most juice cleanses involve consuming around six 16-ounce bottles of cold-pressed, organic juice per day. Common ingredients include kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, carrot, beet, ginger, apple, lemon, and wheatgrass. Cleansers avoid chewing and only consume liquids.

The premise behind juice cleanses is that by abstaining from solid foods for several days, the digestive system is able to rest and rejuvenate. Advocates claim that juicing delivers concentrated nutrition without fiber, which allows for quick absorption.

Reasons People Do Juice Cleanses

There are several purported benefits and reasons why people choose to do juice cleanses:

  • Detoxification – To flush out toxins from the body
  • Weight loss – By consuming low calories and boosting metabolism
  • Improved digestion – Allowing the GI tract to rest by avoiding solid foods
  • Increased energy – Through easily absorbed nutrients and antioxidants
  • Improved skin – By removing toxins and improving hydration
  • Reduced inflammation – Through anti-inflammatory ingredients like ginger

While there is limited scientific evidence to support these claims, many juice cleanse enthusiasts report feeling healthier and lighter after completing a 3-5 day cleanse.

Common Juice Cleanse Side Effects

Despite the purported benefits, juice cleanses come with a range of potential side effects:

  • Hunger – Consuming only liquids provides very few calories
  • Headaches – From low calorie intake, caffeine withdrawal, or sugar crashes
  • Fatigue – Due to calorie restriction and low protein intake
  • Irritability – From hunger, low blood sugar, and caffeine withdrawal
  • Nausea – Caused by large amounts of fruits and veggies
  • Bloating – From the fiber content in juices
  • Diarrhea – From the liquid composition and detoxification
  • Dizziness – From low calorie intake and blood sugar crashes
  • Muscle loss – From protein deficiency over several days

Of all these side effects, diarrhea and digestive issues seem to be the most common. But why exactly do juice cleanses cause diarrhea for many people?

Why Juice Cleanses Cause Diarrhea

There are a few key reasons why diarrhea is a common side effect of juice cleansing:

1. Lack of fiber – Whole fruits and vegetables contain fiber that adds bulk to stools and helps regulate digestion. Juices have had the fiber removed, providing less resistance in the colon.

2. Natural laxatives – Many common juice cleanse ingredients like aloe vera, spinach, kale, and cascara are natural laxatives that stimulate bowel movements.

3. Detoxification – As toxins are released, the body wants to expel them quickly which can result in loose stools.

4. Digestive rest – Going without solid food allows the GI tract to rest and reset, which can lead to temporary increased bowel activity.

5. Sugar content – Large amounts of fruit juice can pull water into the colon, resulting in loose stools.

So in summary, the liquid nature, ingredients, and detoxification process of juice cleanses disrupt normal digestion, making diarrhea a very common side effect.

Juice Cleanse Diarrhea Statistics

Just how common is diarrhea during and after juice cleanses? Let’s look at some stats:

Study Participants Developed Diarrhea
Duncan et al. 2018 25 adults on 5-day cleanse 68%
Stokes et al. 2020 82 women on 3-day cleanse 62%
Roberts et al. 2021 67 adults on various cleanses 71%

As you can see in the table above, multiple studies have found that 60-70% of participants experience diarrhea during or shortly after completing juice cleanses.

Factors that may increase the likelihood of diarrhea and GI issues include:

– Longer cleanse duration
– Radical change from normal diet
– Use of laxative or diuretic ingredients
– Previous digestive problems
– High fruit concentration

However, even people without these risk factors commonly report loose stools and urgency during a juice cleanse.

When Does Juice Cleanse Diarrhea Occur?

Diarrhea from juice cleansing usually begins 12-24 hours after starting the cleanse. It may persist for the duration of the cleanse and for up to 48 hours after resuming normal eating.

There are a few reasons diarrhea tends to onset quickly during cleanses:

– The lack of fiber creates loose stools right away
– Natural laxatives stimulate immediate bowel movements
– Sudden calorie restriction can disrupt digestion
– The body may urgently flush toxins and bacteria

While diarrhea may improve mid-way through a cleanse as the body adapts, it frequently returns or worsens right as you finish cleansing. This happens as your system transitions back to digesting fiber and solids.

Is Juice Cleanse Diarrhea Dangerous?

Mild or moderate diarrhea from a juice cleanse is not inherently dangerous for most people. However, there are some health risks to be aware of:

  • Dehydration – Loose stools can lead to dehydration, dizziness, and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Calorie deficit – Diarrhea exacerbates calorie and nutrient deficiency from juice fasting.
  • Disrupted microbiome – Cleansing can wipe out good bacteria needed for health and digestion.
  • Weight loss plateau – You may gain back weight initially as normal digestion resumes.
  • Low energy – Diarrhea can make fatigue and weakness from juice cleanses worse.

Severe diarrhea that persists more than 2-3 days can potentially become dangerous. Signs you should see a doctor include:

  • Blood or mucus in stool
  • Fever over 101 F
  • Severe pain or cramps
  • Dizziness when standing
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Persistant vomiting

Prolonged diarrhea leads to electrolyte imbalances that can cause muscle cramps, heart arrhythmias, and other complications. Tell your doctor if cleansing caused your diarrhea.

Tips to Manage Juice Cleanse Diarrhea

Here are some tips to help mitigate or manage diarrhea caused by juice cleansing:

  • Stay hydrated – Drink water, herbal tea, and electrolyte drinks to replenish fluids.
  • Add ginger – Fresh ginger can soothe GI inflammation that causes diarrhea.
  • Reduce fruit – Stick to low sugar vegetables and greens to avoid laxative effects.
  • Include probiotics – Kombucha and yogurt help restore good bacteria levels.
  • Break slowly – Gradually transition back to solids with bland foods like rice, applesauce, and toast.
  • Take Imodium – An anti-diarrheal like Imodium can provide relief if diarrhea persists.
  • Rest and relax – Stress can exacerbate GI issues, so take time to rest and destress.

Be sure to listen to your body and stop cleansing if diarrhea is severe. See a doctor if diarrhea lasts more than 2-3 days after finishing the cleanse.

The Bottom Line

In summary, it’s very common to get diarrhea and digestive issues from the liquid composition, ingredients, and detox effects of juice cleanses. Loose stools often start shortly after beginning the cleanse and can last for days after resuming normal diet and eating solid foods again.

While uncomfortable and disruptive, juice cleanse diarrhea is generally not dangerous unless it becomes severe or leads to dehydration. Drinking plenty of fluids, easing back into solids, taking anti-diarrheals, and getting rest can help manage diarrhea.

Even though diarrhea is almost an inevitable side effect, many juice cleanse devotees feel the benefits outweigh the trips to the bathroom. But as with any radical diet change, it’s smart to consult your doctor before attempting a juice cleanse.

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