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Can you do a detox with IBS? If you have constant upset stomach symptoms, reacting to different foods and ongoing pain & discomfort then you may have considered going on an extreme diet and cleanse.

If you’ve been tempted by expensive supplements, teas or juice fasts on Instagram you may have realised these might not work well if you have IBS, or not at all.

The thing is, your body is very good at detoxifying things it needs to get rid of through normal biological processes in the kidneys, skin, liver and gut. If these organs stop working, you need medical support, not just a cleansing tea.

Issues with detox diets

Many of the influencer led diets are not backed by science (e.g. celery juice), or simply don’t work and exist to make people money.

Juicing diet – cutting out all fibre from your gut may affect your transit time because of a lack of bulk in the stool, which can trigger constipation. Cutting out fibre may also reduce the prebiotic foods for the beneficial gut microbes such as lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, affecting the health of your gut microbiome.

Colon cleanse – you may be temped to wash out your intestines to see if it helps to be cleaned from the inside. But there is limited positive evidence that this aids IBS symptoms in the long term. We have a host of microbes living in our gut, and when we wash these away there is an opportunity for less helpful microbes to colonise our gut.

So what can we do?

Do I need a detox with IBS?

If you feel like you’re struggling with ongoing digestive symptoms, as well as fatigue, headaches, recurrent infections, PMS or skin issues like acne or eczema it’s definitely worth looking at diet to support your overall health.

One way to do this, is to look at strains on our body from diet and from our environment, but these kind of symptoms are rarely served by harsh diets, long fasts or faddy supplements.

The things we can focus on removing to give our body a break from dealing with them include:

  • Gut microbes – e.g. pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites,
  • common allergens
  • chemicals from personal products like moisturisers, shampoos or make up

It’s not about going on a juice cleanse, or fasting for two days. A Nutritional Therapist can show you how to support the body to clear toxins through supporting the immune system, digestive health and organs such as the liver, kidneys and skin.

6 Top Tips For Detoxification

Here are the 6 top tips for reducing diet and lifestyle factors that can help support you  liver and kidneys:

bowl of lemons against a white background

Cutting out junk

Reduce your processed food intake, cut down on alcohol, caffeine & sugar. Focus instead on including foods in a natural state. Think about vegetables, whole grains, fruits and proteins from either beans / pulses, or fish and meats.

If you avoid things in a packet with a long list of ingredients you’ll be on the right track!

Aim to include different coloured fresh fruits and vegetables from all colours of the rainbow every day to get a broad range of nutrients.

Hydration

Drink water – filtered water is best and aim for 8 glasses a day. You may need more water if you’re doing strenuous exercise. Aim to see light straw coloured urine not dark yellow. You can include herb teas in this target of around 2 litres a day, or warm water with ginger and lemon.

Aim for 8 hours sleep

During the winter months we naturally want to hibernate, so try to honour that need by getting a regular bedtime (not too late!). It also helps to switch off all devices two hours before bed. More sleep will help your body regenerate, and reduce the need to grab more caffeine the next day.

Cucumber in a glass of water
Relax at regular intervals during the day

Stress is a major cause of physiological stress on the body, we are not designed to cope with stress over long periods of time, so try some yoga or breathing exercises to help calm down towards the end of the day, or during breaks at work.

Activating your calming nervous system with deep breaths can be an easy way to support detox when you have IBS, but helping to relax your body. It’s free, can be done anywhere, breathing can have a huge impact on your digestion.

Look at your skincare regime

Some personal care products have a lot of chemicals that the body needs to excrete – look instead for organic products with more gentle natural ingredients.

Gut disorders are often linked to skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis. Reducing the work for the skin to detox may support your IBS symptoms. 

Remove your food triggers

Some of my clients tell me they react to gluten, but then eat a pizza at the weekend. Or they say that dairy bloats them, but they drink a latte when out with friends each week.

If you have already identified a dietary trigger for your symptoms try a strict removal for 6-8 weeks. If your symptoms don’t improve you may need to try another food group, or it may not actually be a food intolerance, but something else like dysbiosis, SIBO, or stress. Contact me to ask about how to identify and remove food triggers.

Typical allergens are gluten, dairy, soy, fish / seafood, citrus, and nuts, but everyone will have individual reactions to certain foods. Ask for help from a nutritional therapist about how to do this properly.

Hi I'm Anna Mapson, registered Nutritionist (mBANT, CNHC). I help people with IBS, SIBO, reflux and other gut health issues.

I can help you to:

  • understand your digestion better, so you recognise your triggers
  • eat a well balanced diet, with tasty meals that are simple to prepare
  • develop healthy, sustainable habits for life

“Anna is amazing! I feel totally transformed"

Find more about 1:1 IBS nutrition consultations