What Happens To Your Body On a Juice Cleanse? Common Detox Symptoms Explained
One of the biggest reasons people put off trying a juice cleanse is because they’re nervous about how they’ll feel and have heard horror stories about some of the detox symptoms. This article will help you debunk the myths and prepare you with confidence for one of the most empowering and liberating food experiences you’ll ever try.
What should I expect during a juice cleanse?
It is totally normal to feel overwhelmed by this process. Many participants have little knowledge of juicing or the nutrient-dense nature of greens. Changing the way we view food is one of the hardest things that we can do. Whether you are a fast food junkie or a seasoned raw foodie, the concept of a juice cleanse can be difficult to digest! The Gentle Juice Cleanse is a wonderful tool that is meant to empower you in your journey. If you haven’t yet signed up to be guided through all ten days of the program with interviews, support and more, you can do so here.
As a Golden Rule, you will get out of anything what you put into it. So, sit back in your favorite chair, put your feet up, and start nourishing your curiosity! The first 2-3 days of any cleanse, but especially a juice cleanse, will be the most difficult. Many participants stop and ask themselves if this is worth it. Nothing in life that is worth having comes easy. Juicing can be a very foreign concept to master.
Going from a solid diet to liquids will cause the stomach to begin to shrink from lack of a stretching reflex. This can easily be mistaken for hunger. After a few days on a juice cleanse, you will find the process easy to manage; in fact, you may experience what is called the “honeymoon period.” During this period, you may feel as though you never want to eat solid foods again. Weight loss will become apparent after day 3 and many participants notice a feeling of lightening. By day 3, many participants notice any detoxification symptoms subside, and a sense of wellbeing replaces the anxiety. Remember to be gentle with yourself.
Forgive yourself for minor setbacks and thank yourself for the commitment that you have made to your health. We have chosen a 10-day period based on personal experiences with juicing, and encourage participants to begin thinking of ways to incorporate green juice into your daily menu following the cleanse as a nutrient dense kick!
Is juice cleansing difficult?
The first 2-3 days can be a challenge for many people as they adjust to ingesting all their nutrients in liquid form.
The transition is different for everyone. Individuals who have previously eaten the Standard American Diet (appropriately referred to as “SAD”) will have a more difficult transition than those who have enjoyed a plant-based diet. As your body begins to learn to receive nutrients in juice form, your stomach will start to shrink in both size and appearance; and superficial hunger pangs will lessen.
If the taste of a juice seems too strong, feel free to add 25% of the juice’s yield in water to create a more palatable juice, while increasing the amount of water in your diet.
Detoxification symptoms are different for everyone.
When a person has experienced a diet rich in processed foods, such as refined carbohydrates and sugars, or a diet poor in nutrients, the symptoms will be more evident. These symptoms are short-lived, with most people feeling better after the second or third day of a cleanse.
The cleansing reaction will be lessened when you consume things other than the juices and water listed in the cleanse. While we encourage participants to stick to the cleanse, sometimes the symptoms of detoxification arrive very rapidly, most often resulting in explosive, loose stools. If this occurs, try eating a banana. Often, the contained in a banana is enough to slow the voiding of bowels.
What are the most common detox symptoms for people on a juice cleanse?
- Body ache
- General malaise (just feeling “cruddy”)
- Change in bowels (generally to a loose consistency)
- Change in sleep pattern
- Mood change
- General fatigue
- A thick, white, coated tongue
- Itching or rashes (generally in the creases of skin, such as the elbows or behind the knees)
- Slight fever
Individuals who have consumed a diet high in simple carbohydrates will have the most difficult transition period.
Simple carbohydrates with little fibre provide the body with short, intense bursts of energy, which leads to a vicious cycle of hunger. By consuming nutrient-dense juices, the body will initially be confused. Juices are absorbed rapidly, creating a void in a stomach that has most likely been stretched from eating too much food.
One of the main reasons that gastric bypass surgery is not always successful is the stomach’s unique ability to stretch to accommodate food. From an evolutionary perspective, this allowed humans to digest large amounts of food when they were available, in order to store energy for leaner times.
Our digestive systems have simply not evolved as rapidly as our global economy!
During the first few days of a cleanse, many individuals have an urge to cheat. Let’s face it: You feel cruddy, and food gives us comfort, right? Use this time and frustration to journal about your personal relationship to food.
What are the foods that you see as triggers for a binge? Look at that relationship! Is this food associated with a fond memory of childhood or a past love? These feelings of hunger and frustration, coupled with getting used to foreign-tasting juices, will pass. Remember that these symptoms are signs that the cleanse is working!
We do not introduce toxins to our body overnight; they accumulate over a lifetime of experiences, ranging from the food we eat and the water we drink to the air we breathe and even the fillings in our teeth. Therefore, we cannot expect this process to be quick or painless.
But I can assure you that with time, you will feel better than you did prior to the cleanse!
Who benefits most from doing a juice cleanse?
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, detoxification is a beautiful thing. This cleanse takes into account our thermal nature as individuals. The Standard American Diet that so many people now consume is Hot or Yang in nature.
Some common associations with a person who is yang in nature can reveal a quick temper, red complexion, inflamed tissues and poor skin conditions. Eating a diet rich in animal foods, cooked foods, alcohol, caffeine and fat increases our thermal nature.
Juice cleansing introduces coldness or Yin to the equation, which decreases heat or Yang. Raw foods, water and green juice will help decrease the heat in our bodies. Reactions to the detoxification are a result of the liver’s inability to keep up with the elimination of toxins.
In Chinese Medicine, the liver is associated with the emotion of anger. As you strengthen the liver, your reactions to the detoxification process will become milder and less frequent.
What should I do if I get hungry during a juice cleanse?
It is important to note that the feeling of hunger is healthy; it is a sign that your body is ready to receive more fuel. According to Angela Stokes-Monarch, “Many people are not used to feeling hunger, however, and [are] even a little fearful of it. Try to relax into accepting hunger as a natural part of your cycle — feel it; honor your body’s needs by providing the nutrition required; and then, move on, until the next time hunger arises. Feeling hunger does not have to be a drama – it is just your body’s way of saying, ‘can I have some more…’?”
One of the benefits of juice cleansing is that you will start to understand the differences between hunger and cravings.
It actually comes down to the idea of “need” versus “want.”
Hunger is physiological and very real. You need some kind of nutrient; you need calories; you need fluids; whatever it is, your body is telling you it requires something for survival. We have included a chart at the conclusion of this book that may help you determine the actual meaning of your hunger.
Cravings, on the other hand, are an altogether different animal!
Cravings happen at the mental level rather than at the physiological level and involve want over need. You want doughnuts; you may crave potato chips, and you may become uncontrollably angry thinking about snacks.
This is a wonderful time to reflect on the reason why you are participating in a juice cleanse.
Whether for health, weight loss or simple curiosity, a craving will pale in comparison. Journaling your feelings, talking to a friend or engaging in exercise are wonderful ways to help these cravings pass. In the beginning, I personally found vilifying junk foods to be very helpful.
When I would crave potato chips, I would journal about greasy napkins and genetically modified spuds. This exercise really helped pass the craving.
What do I do if I get really hungry during a juice cleanse?
You may feel hunger during the cleanse, especially for the first few days as the body gets used to digesting nutrients and calories in a different form and volume.
Drinking frequently, keeping yourself hydrated and tuning into your centre really help to manage your feelings of hunger and differentiate hunger from cravings. Focus on your family at meal times, not on food.
Sip your juice while talking about your day’s events. By taking focus off food at meal times, you allow yourself the ability to focus on your family. Learn to notice the subtle differences between hunger and cravings, as mentioned in the section above. Listen to your body, and tap into your intuition. Use this as an opportunity to get to know yourself a little bit better. Keeping a journal of your thoughts and emotions can be extremely rewarding. That said, we know how hard it is to overcome feelings of hunger at times.
For this reason, we have included some delicious *snack* recipes for those times when you need something a little more dense. You can try Dr. Etti’s Chocopotion or one of her green smoothie recipes, or try making a chia cereal.
We have also included some herbal-tea infusion recipes from Master Herbalist Jonathan Raymond. Drinking herbal infusions will do a great deal to facilitate and improve the detoxification process, while also alleviating the common symptoms or discomfort that you may be experiencing during the detox.
Plants such as elderflower and blueberry leaves help to regulate glycaemia, thus preventing sugar and carbohydrate-cravings. Exercise is also another very healthy and helpful part of a cleanse that has been shown to help stave off hunger. Mind-body exercise such as yoga and tai chi (basically Chinese yoga) is a wonderful way to connect your mind to your evolving body.
Caring for yourself physically in this time of detoxification benefits both the cleanse and your emotional well-being.
What can I expect to regarding my bowel movements?
This may be an embarrassing subject for some participants, but it is important to note that most people will notice a change in their bowels. Many people eating the Standard American Diet (rightfully abbreviated as “SAD”) are chronically constipated. Elimination of the bowels should occur 15- 45 minutes after consuming a meal.
That does not mean that you are passing the meal you have just consumed, rather the act of eating triggers the bowel movement through peristalsis (the gentle movement of digestion). The meal passed at this time is from 15-24 hours earlier.
If you are having 3 meals per day, this means 3 bowel movements.
Many people confuse this with diarrhea. Know that the increase in bowel movements is part of the process and a sign that your intestinal health is improving. If you find that your stools are frequent, as in every time you urinate, increase the water you are consuming. Adding the juice of celery can also be very beneficial. In the meantime, if the anal area is sore, purchase flushable, moist wipes that can be found in the paper-products aisle at your grocery store.
Wash the anal area with fragrance and dye-free soap, in order to prevent further irritation. Another tip is to apply A and D lotion topically to the area to help soothe the inflammation. Also, wear loose-fitting, cotton panties.
Avoid nylon fabrics that can trap moisture or tight-fitting underwear that can further irritate the area. If you experience constipation, many participants find that incorporating enemas or colon hydrotherapy can be helpful.
This additional cleansing modality removes solid debris from the colon through the gentle introduction of water through the rectum. Regardless of bowel-movement frequency, there is a benefit to colon cleansing during the cleansing process.
If you want to learn more about how to do a successful juice cleanse, register here for our Gentle Juice Cleanse. Through daily messages, reminders and personalized support, you’ll be given all the information and inspiration you need to radically improve your health, concentration, confidence and more!