Changes in Bowel Movements During Detox Diets


Reported changes in bowel movements while undergoing restrictive detox diets are not unusual. As you radically change your normal food intake, it is only natural that your bowel patterns change as well. While proponents of detox plans suggest that these altered bowel movements are symptoms of toxins leaving the body, other medical sources are a bit more skeptical of the benefit of these extreme plans.

Detox Theory

According to designers of detox plans, over the years your body tends to accumulate stored toxins in your cells, which were originally ingested from environmental factors ranging from the air to the water to your food. Detox plans supposedly facilitate cleansing of the body, allowing your system to purge itself of unwanted chemicals while simultaneously allowing you to lose weight in the process.

Bowel Changes

Many detox plans note that bowel changes while on their diets is a perfectly normal part of the process. For example, Peter Glickman, one of the major promoters of the Master Cleanse Detox, states that he experienced heat in his bowel movements, which he ascribed to the elimination of "acidic toxins." Other detox sites such as report that while on a detox plan, your bowel movements can become irregular, varying in size, length and consistency. However, if you have diarrhea for more than two days, or it is accompanied by a fever and severe pain, you should seek immediate medical attention according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

Timing of Movements

Depending on the detox plan you are considering, the timing of your bowel movements can also change radically. For example, during the Master Cleanse plan, dieters are instructed to take a daily salt water flush, which stimulates the bowels, purportedly aiding in the cleansing process. According to the Master Cleanse plan, after drinking the salt water flush, you can expect a relatively heavy bowel movement within an hour or two. You can clearly see how this might pose a problem if caught unaware. Thus, expect that your regularity will shift somewhat on most plans as your body adjusts to your new regime, and you will not be unpleasantly surprised.

Purported Benefits

To followers of the detox philosophy, these irregular bowel movements are proof of detoxification in progress. According to information on, these irregular stools are always present in your intestinal tract, thanks to environmental toxins, and are only able to be released through following a structured plan of detoxification.

Expert Insight

The physicians at the Mayo Clinic have a different take on the situation. According to them, there is no scientific evidence that speaks to the necessity of following a detox plan, as there is no reason to believe that your body's existing "detoxification" organs such as the liver and kidneys are unable to fully perform their tasks. If you want to engage in a natural "detox," medically speaking, you might be better off sticking to a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Also, experts at New York University Langone Medical Center report that the cells in your intestinal tract completely change over every three days, which prevents toxic build-up in your colon or along intestinal walls.

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