Can a Cleanse Make You Sick?
While a cleanse is designed to help you to improve your health in a variety of ways, it can sometimes have the opposite effect and wreak havoc on your physical and mental health. As with all things in life, sometimes a cleanse does not always play out according to plan! When practiced only on occasion, with proper fueling, and over short durations, cleanses can work wonders and have positive outcomes when it comes to your health. However, no two bodies are the same, and it is impossible to predict how one person’s health will be impacted by a cleanse. Don’t let this scare you off- when done correctly, cleanses are widely known to help with weight loss, skin problems, unhealthy cravings, and more; without any dangerous or ill effects.
What is less well known about the cleanse process is that there are potential negative side effects that may come up, especially if the cleanse is done without proper planning or if it is practiced in an unhealthy manner. While we have all heard about the amazing results that can come from a cleanse, it is important to recognize the potential dark side of this style of dieting, so that you can try your best to avoid experiencing any of the potential pitfalls. Although most of the time cleansing is a wonderful health tool, it is imperative to keep in mind that there are ways in which cleansing can become an unhealthy practice- and end up making you sick.
How Can a Cleanse Make You Sick?
There are a few different reasons that you may become ill during a detox-style diet. The Herxheimer reaction is something that you may experience even if you are doing everything by the book! On top of that- detoxing too aggressively, taking certain supplements, or cleansing too frequently can all have negative impacts on your physical or mental health. Let’s delve into more information about how cleanses may have ill effects on your body and mind- and, more importantly, the best ways to avoid having a negative cleansing experience!
The Herxheimer Reaction
Surprisingly, getting sick as a result of detoxing is so common that it even has a name! The ‘Herxheimer reaction’ is what occurs inside of your body when your immune system has a negative response to the detoxification process. It is sometimes also referred to as ‘die-off’ and is a fairly common side-effect that comes up when you cut out certain food groups from your diet.
During the detoxing process, your body is trying to get rid of old bacterias, viruses, and foreign toxins that are not doing your health any favors. When all of the old junk from within your body is released in a short period of time, your body experiences a rapid increase of endotoxins. An endotoxin is a toxin that was once contained within a bacterial cell, and it can cause you to experience the symptoms of your most recent illness. The Herxheimer reaction may cause symptoms like fatigue, muscle and joint soreness or pain, dizziness, headaches or migraines, throat swelling and discomfort, and even fever.
The good news is that the Herxheimer reaction is typically short-lived, and will only affect you for a few days, up to a few weeks. There are also a few practices that you can implement during your cleanse to decrease your chances of experiencing a Herxheimer reaction!
The truth be told, many people have come out of their cleanse diet feeling pretty dang awful! It is fairly common to hear stories about dizziness, diarrhea, chills, outbreaks, and vomiting occurring as a result of trying out a cleanse diet. Sometimes these symptoms are mild, but for other people, they can be extreme.
Many of the detox supplements and pills out on the market have been known to lead to these horrible side effects. They can cause your body to flush out toxins at a much faster rate than your body can handle. This can also throw off the levels of serotonin in your brain. If you find yourself in the middle of your cleanse experiencing any of these potentially serious side effects- stop your cleanse immediately and resume a diet closer to what your body is accustomed to.
Cleanses are not the best diet for everyone. If it turns out that it isn’t for you, there are other changes you can make to your diet that will lead you to achieve your health goals!
Cleansing Too Frequently
We have all heard the age-old adage “everything in moderation…” right?! While this saying is typically applied to types of foods and other substances you put in your body, the same concept can be used to talk about the habits and practices in your life. Cleansing can be a rather extreme form of dieting- just think of all the calories and food groups that you are restricting! Because you are depriving your body of important fibers and essential macronutrients, cleanses can become unhealthy if they last too long. Medical professionals highly recommend that a cleanse only lasts for around 3-10 days. It is also important to only practice a cleanse diet once in a while when you really need it. Doing them for too long, or too frequently can deprive your body of important nutrients that it needs for optimal functioning.
Tips to Stay Healthy During a Cleanse
There are some additional steps you can take during your cleanse, to help ensure that it will go smoothly and decrease your chances of getting sick during it.
Activated charcoal: while it may sound like a load of nonsense, activated charcoal is edible in small quantities, and can help you immensely during a detox diet! This is because charcoal has the ability to bind to the toxins being released within your body and help you expel them faster and more efficiently. You can buy activated charcoal in powder form, and drink a little bit of it down with some water! Be sure to follow the suggestions on the label, as charcoal is only good for you in small quantities.
Regular bowel movements: during any cleanse diet, it is imperative to make sure that you are still having healthy and regular bowel movements. While they are likely to decrease in frequency during your cleanse (because you are consuming far less food and very little fiber!), make sure that you aren’t experiencing constipation. You are trying to get rid of the toxins in your body, after all, sweat and bathroom breaks are avenues that remove these toxins.
Epsom salt baths: soaking in a warm Epsom salt bath can work wonders if you are already experiencing any slight ill effects from your cleanse. Epsom salts are typically composed of both magnesium and sulfate, which help to stimulate detoxification routes. In addition to the diet aspect, a salt bath can help to further expel toxins from your body! Epsom salts can be found at nearly any drug store or grocery store.
Light exercise: while your body is working towards expelling toxins, practicing some light exercise can help to decrease your chances of experiencing the Herxheimer reaction. Moving your body will help to mobilize your lymphatic system, which serves to keep the immune system running smoothly. While the endotoxins are being released back into your body, physical activity can help to flush the undesirable bacteria out of your lungs and airways. Sweating while you do some light exercise is also beneficial to flush out toxins!
Water!: drinking plenty of water helps to ward off illnesses in the best of times, but it is also incredibly beneficial during a detox diet. Drinking enough water can help to ward off any negative symptoms you may feel- from headaches to hunger, to mental fog. It also helps to flush out toxins from your body and will make your cleanse period even more effective!
Listen to Your Body to Cleanse the Right Way
With a little bit of proper planning and preparation, your cleanse is far more likely to be a positive experience! Going into it blindly with no information under your belt is not in the best interest of your health. Do your research, and make a plan to reach your goals! Knowing what you are getting into, and understanding the safest practices will set you up for success in your cleanse. While detox supplements and pills may work wonders for one person, they may make another very ill! Taking the time to listen to your body before, during, and after your cleanse will also tune you into what does and doesn’t work for you.
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