Juice cleanses have become an increasingly popular way to detoxify the body and reset unhealthy eating habits. By consuming only fresh fruit and vegetable juices for a period of 3-5 days, the digestive system gets a break from solid foods while still receiving essential vitamins and minerals. However, one common side effect of juice cleansing is constipation due to the lack of fiber. Preventing and relieving constipation during a juice cleanse is important for comfort, avoiding toxicity, and continuing to flush the system. With some strategic tweaks and supportive practices, juice cleansers can stay regular and comfortable even without solid foods.
Causes of Constipation During a Juice Cleanse
There are a few key reasons why constipation commonly occurs during juice cleanses:
- Lack of fiber – Fiber from whole fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. helps add bulk to stool and promote regular bowel movements. Juice contains minimal fiber since it is strained.
- Dehydration – Not drinking enough fluids can cause stools to become hard and dry. Juice cleanses provide fluids but you may need more if exercising.
- Lack of chewing – Chewing helps activate the digestive process. Juices require no chewing which can slow things down.
- Stress hormones – Fasting and dramatically changing diet can trigger release of stress hormones which can impair digestion.
- Toxins – Built up toxins being released as you detox can also impair digestion and elimination.
Being aware of these potential causes can help you be proactive about preventing constipation before and during a juice cleanse.
Tips to Prevent Constipation Before and During a Juice Cleanse
Here are some tips to help prevent constipation when doing a juice cleanse:
1. Prepare with a high fiber diet in the days beforehand
Eat plentiful fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, seeds, and nuts in the 2-3 days leading up to a juice cleanse. This helps �pre-load� your system with fiber to keep waste moving once you start juicing.
2. Minimize processed foods beforehand
Avoid processed convenience foods, salty snacks, fatty fried foods, refined carbs and sugar before a cleanse. These leave behind little fiber and can slow digestion.
4. Stay hydrated
Drink lots of water, herbal tea, and broth in addition to juices. Proper hydration keeps things lubricated in there.
5. Add psyllium husk or chia seeds to juices
Mix a teaspoon of psyllium husk or chia seeds into juices for an extra fiber boost. They gel up and help sweep out your system.
6. Drink green juices high in potassium
Potassium helps counter sodium and promotes muscle contractions in the colon. Aim for green juices high in spinach, kale, parsley, spirulina.
7. Include probiotics
Having healthy gut flora helps digestion and elimination. Add probiotic supplements or juices like beet kvass that contain natural probiotics.
8. Use freshly made juices only
The nutrients in juice oxidize rapidly when exposed to light and air. Only use freshly extracted juices and avoid all store-bought juices which lack enzymes.
9. Try dry brushing your skin
Dry brushing before showering can help stimulate circulation, lymph flow, and detoxification which may support healthy bowel movements.
10. Do light exercise daily
Going for a walk, rebounding, yoga, can help get things moving by stimulating circulation and contractions. But don’t overdo it.
11. Consider a stool softener or gentle laxative if needed
As a last resort, a stool softener like magnesium citrate or gentle stimulant laxative can provide relief if constipation persists for more than 2-3 days. But check with your doctor first.
Foods and Supplements to Relieve Constipation
If constipation strikes during your juice cleanse, there are some natural foods and supplements you can add to your juices or take separately to get things moving again:
Prunes are rich in fiber and sorbitol which has a laxative effect. Add 4-5 prunes chopped into each juice.
Apples contain pectin fiber and malic acid to help stool bulk up and gently stimulate the bowels. Grate apples into juice or make malic acid supplements.
Cherries contain fiber and antioxidants. Cherry juice adds potassium, magnesium, and quercetin to support bowel function.
Smooth Move Tea
This herbal tea contains senna leaf which has a gentle laxative effect to stimulate contractions. Steep 1-2 bags in hot water.
Triphala is an Ayurvedic herb blend that supports healthy digestion and elimination. Take 1,000 mg before bed.
Magnesium draws water into the colon to soften stool. Take 200-400mg daily or try magnesium-rich epsom salt baths.
Grind 2 tbsp flaxseed and add to juices for fiber and omega oils to lubricate.
Drink 2 tablespoons olive oil first thing in morning to stimulate the gallbladder and get juices flowing.
Lifestyle Tips for Relief
Aside from diet, there are some additional lifestyle practices that can help get things moving during a juice cleanse when constipated:
- Take a 20-30 minute walk after drinking your morning juice
- Do some light yoga flows that twist the abdomen such as supine twist
- Massage your abdomen clockwise to stimulate digestion
- Try an abdominal massage from an apprentice or tennis ball against a wall
- Sit on a toilet and relax your body, leaning forward with elbows on knees
- Alternate hot and cold compress on your abdomen
- Take an epsom salt bath and soak for 15-20 minutes
- Try dry brushing your skin upwards toward the heart
- Drink two cups of warm water with lemon juice upon waking
- Relax and de-stress with meditation, deep breathing, or calming music
When to Seek Medical Help
While there are many natural ways to relieve constipation during a juice cleanse, it’s important to monitor yourself and know when to ask for medical support. Seek help from your doctor if you experience:
- No bowel movements for more than 3-4 days
- Hard, dry, pebble-like stool
- Difficulty passing stool with urges and straining
- Blood in the stool
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and weakness
With medical guidance, you may need an enema, laxative suppository, imaging, or exam. Tell your doctor about your juice cleanse.
When Constipation Persists
For some people, constipation continues after a juice cleanse ends. Here are some tips if you still feel “blocked up”:
– Gradually reintroduce solid foods starting with raw fruits and veggies high in fiber like apples, pears, berries, lettuce, steamed broccoli, etc.
– Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily and include herbal tea.
– Exercise daily with a mix of cardio and core strengthening moves.
– Consider a fiber supplement like psyllium husk, ground flaxseeds, or a green superfood blend.
– Eat probiotic-rich foods like kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and yogurt.
– Work on reducing stress through yoga, meditation, massage, alone time, etc.
– Try digestive enzymes or betaine HCL supplements to improve breakdown of food.
– Exclude common gut irritants like gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, and sugar.
If the issue persists beyond 1-2 weeks, see your doctor to rule out other causes like a blockage (impaction) or gastrointestinal disorders. Laxatives should not be used long term.
Constipation is a common challenge during juice cleanses when fiber intake dramatically drops. Being prepared by eating a high fiber diet beforehand, staying hydrated, adding fiber to juices, probiotics, and natural laxatives can help. Light exercise, abdominal massage, hot baths, relaxation and reintroducing solid foods slowly can also get things moving post-cleanse. Pay attention to severe symptoms and seek medical help promptly. With some adjustments and care, juice cleansers can still experience the benefits of detoxing while maintaining regularity and comfort.
|Fiber-Rich Foods to Eat Before and After a Juice Cleanse
|Grams of Fiber
|1 ounce (23 nuts)
|Black beans, cooked
|Split peas, cooked
|Brussels sprouts, cooked