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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.

In fact many detox products do not work 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. 

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, which could affect the health of your gut microbiome.

Colon cleanse (hydrotherapy) – you may be temped to wash out your intestines to see if this reduces IBS symptoms. It might sound tempting 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 the strains and stresses on our body from diet and from our environment. 

Gut symptoms are rarely served by harsh diets, long fasts or faddy supplements.

Instead we can focus on giving our body a break from dealing with things that might stress us:

  • High levels of sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • common allergens
  • chemicals from personal products like moisturisers, shampoos or make up

An IBS Nutritionist 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 support your liver and kidneys:

bowl of lemons against a white background

Cutting out junk

Reduce your processed food intake, cut down on alcohol, caffeine & free sugar or fatty foods.

Focus instead on including foods in a natural state. Eat lots of vegetables, whole grains, fruits and proteins from either beans / pulses, or fish and meats.

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

Start to track your fibre intake, and try to eat around 30g a day. Even on the low FODMAP you can still include some fibre every day.

Hydration

Drink water – aim for 8 glasses a day.

You may need more water if you’re doing strenuous exercise or breastfeeding.

How will you know if you’re drinking enough?

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. I have a guide to herb teas for IBS which might be helpful for you. 

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 avoid constant notifications from your phone, so try to put your phone away, and stop watching Netflix for around two hours before bed. This helps your mind start to get ready for bed, rather than working full pelt until you lie your head on that pillow! 

Getting sufficient 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, by helping your body feel safe. My article on meditation and gut health has more detail on the gut brain connection.

Breathing is free, can be done anywhere, although it sounds basic, it 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 for IBS.

Typical allergens are gluten, dairy, soy, fish / seafood, citrus, and nuts, but everyone will have individual reactions to certain foods. In IBS the common triggers are often foods high in fermentation carbohydrates called FODMAPs. You can read my beginners guide to the low FODMAP diet for an overview.

Ask for help from a IBS Nutritionist about how to do this properly.

Hi I'm Anna Mapson, registered Nutritional Therapist.

I help people with IBS and SIBO get control of unpredictable gut symptoms to find long term relief from painful and embarrassing IBS without restrictive dieting.

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 better digestion and more energy

Find more about my 3 month 1:1 Gut Reset programme

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