Why is my juice cleanse giving me diarrhea?

Juice cleanses have become an increasingly popular way to detox and reset your body. While drinking only fruit and vegetable juices for a few days can help eliminate toxins and improve health, many people experience some unpleasant side effects like diarrhea. If your juice cleanse is giving you diarrhea, there are several potential causes and solutions.

What is a juice cleanse?

A juice cleanse involves consuming only fresh fruit and vegetable juices for a set period of time, usually between 3-7 days. By abstaining from solid foods for a few days and flooding your body with vitamins and minerals from produce, a juice cleanse aims to:

  • Rest the digestive system
  • Remove toxins and promote detoxification
  • Increase energy and improve health
  • Encourage weight loss
  • Reboot healthy eating habits

Most juice cleanse programs provide 6-8 bottles of cold-pressed juices per day, with each bottle containing a specific blend like green juice or cashew milk. Some cleanses also include soups and nut milks.

Why can juice cleanses cause diarrhea?

There are a few reasons why abruptly switching to a liquid diet of juices may lead to loose, frequent stools or diarrhea:

  • Fiber content – While fruit and vegetable juices provide important vitamins and minerals, they lack the fiber content of whole produce. Fiber helps add bulk to stool and regulate digestion. Without adequate fiber, stools can become loose or watery.
  • Sugar content – Fruit and carrot juices tend to be higher in natural sugars. Consuming lots of sugary juices and not enough protein or fat can cause an imbalance and lead to diarrhea.
  • Salt content – Some juice cleanses include high sodium juices like tomato, carrot and beet juices. Excess sodium intake can disrupt fluid balance in the body and cause diarrhea.
  • Detox reactions – As your body eliminates toxins during a cleanse, you may experience diarrhea. This is a normal detox reaction that should subside once the cleanse is over.
  • Probiotics – Some juice cleanse programs include drinks with probiotics. For some people, a large dose of probiotics can cause temporary diarrhea.
  • Digestive changes – Your digestive system has to adjust to a dramatic change in diet during a cleanse. This transition alone can cause loose stools or diarrhea in some people as your digestion regulates itself.

Tips to prevent and relieve juice cleanse diarrhea

If you’re experiencing frequent trips to the bathroom during your juice cleanse, try these troubleshooting tips:

1. Add more low-sugar vegetables

Increase the proportion of low-sugar vegetables like cucumbers, celery, spinach, kale and collard greens in your juices. This will help add fiber and balance the sugar content.

2. Drink herbal tea

Sip on ginger, fennel or chamomile tea throughout the day to soothe your digestive tract.

3. Include protein

Add a nut milk, protein powder or spoon of nut butter to your juices to help slow digestion and solidify stools.

4. Supplement with psyllium husk

Mix 1-2 teaspoons of psyllium husk powder into your juices to add fiber and bulk up loose stools.

5. Try over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medication

Medications containing loperamide or bismuth subsalicylate can help control diarrhea by slowing gut motility.

6. Avoid excessive sodium juices

Limit high-sodium juices like tomato, celery and beet to help prevent fluid imbalances.

7. Stay hydrated

Keep drinking fluids like herbal tea, broth and water to prevent dehydration from diarrhea.

8. Get probiotics from other sources

If you think the probiotics in the juices are causing diarrhea, take a probiotic supplement or eat probiotic yogurt instead.

9. Break the cleanse

If diarrhea persists, terminate the cleanse and start reintroducing solid foods like bananas, rice, applesauce, toast and oatmeal.

When to see a doctor

Diarrhea resulting from a juice cleanse should improve once you complete the cleanse and transition back to normal eating. However, contact your doctor if you experience:

  • Diarrhea lasting more than 3 days
  • Signs of dehydration like excessive thirst, dry mouth, dizziness or dark urine
  • Bloody or black stool
  • Severe abdominal pain or cramps
  • Fever over 101°F (38°C)

These can be signs of a more serious health condition requiring medical treatment. Tell your doctor about your juice cleanse.

Can juice cleanses really detox your body?

The notion of detoxing or cleansing with juice has become trendy. But many health professionals argue there is little scientific evidence to support the purported health benefits of juice cleanses.

Here is a look at some common claims about juicing and detoxing:

Claim: Juice cleanses remove toxins from your body

Your liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract already effectively filter and eliminate toxins. There is no evidence that flooding your body with juice speeds up this process. Excess vitamins and minerals are also excreted in urine.

Claim: Juice cleanses give your digestive system a rest

While abstaining from fiber and solid foods may give your intestines a break, juice cleanses also disrupt normal digestive function. This can lead to complications like diarrhea once you transition back to solids.

Claim: Juice provides nutrients better than whole foods

Juicing extracts the vitamins and minerals from produce, but removes the beneficial fiber, protein and fat. Whole fruits and veggies are a healthier way to get nutrients.

Claim: Juice cleanses lead to healthy, long-term eating habits

Once a juice cleanse ends, most people return to their normal eating patterns. Extreme diets rarely inspire long-term better eating habits. Gradual changes are healthier and more sustainable.

If you enjoy juicing and feel it benefits your health, there is no harm in a short juice fast. But prolonged cleanses should be approached with caution, especially for those with medical conditions.

The bottom line

Temporary diarrhea from the dramatic diet change of a juice cleanse is normal for some people. Try adding more low-sugar veggies, fiber, protein and herbs to your juices. Stay hydrated and terminate the cleanse if diarrhea is prolonged. Speak to your doctor if symptoms do not improve once you resume normal eating.

While juice cleanses are popular, they may provide little benefit for detoxing or maintaining health. Focus on lasting nutrition changes over quick detoxes for better health.

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