Highly processed foods coupled with a hectic lifestyle can often leave your digestive tract feeling sluggish, making you feel irritable and tired. Although there are many commercially available cleanses and detoxes on the market, if all you want is to improve mild to moderate digestive issues or simply feel invigorated, there are easy, at-home ways you can give your digestive system a boost.
Michael Roizen, M.D., chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic and co-author of "You-On a Diet," says that a detox diet might be a great way to kick-start a new, healthier way of eating while it cleans out the digestive system and maybe even eliminate cravings for unhealthy food.
But it's important to keep in mind that when it comes to "detoxes," your body already has a system in place to eliminate toxins from your body — and that's mostly due to your liver. The main way to support this detoxication process is to limit processed foods and alcohol, consume a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean protein and don't smoke.
If you want to add a little something into your healthy lifestyle, continue reading to learn about three simple, "home remedy" cleanses that can be done without buying any special products. Just be sure to consult with a healthcare provider before beginning any type of digestive system cleanse.
Drinking a few glasses of freshly pressed juice throughout the day can provide you with both essential nutrients and gut-healthy fiber to give the digestive tract a boost. The best way to get the benefits of fresh juice is to consume it along with your regular, healthy diet.
But beware: A juice cleanse is not a healthy long-term diet. Robynne Chutkan, M.D., warns in an article in Shape magazine that performing a digestive cleanse for more than three days could make some feel the effects of omitting essential macronutrients like protein and fat and even lead to muscle loss, reduced brain function and hormone disruptions.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria needed for proper digestion. They may also help clear out the lower digestive tract and restore digestive health. They're found in many different foods as well as in capsule form.
According to an article from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, probiotics have shown promise in treating diarrhea, although additional studies are needed. Probiotic bacteria include acidophilus and bifidus as well as many yeasts. Probiotic foods that contain healthy probiotic bacteria include yogurt with live cultures and soy-based foods like tempeh and miso.
Fiber is a key component in any cleanse, because it helps the body to eliminate waste. Fiber absorbs water to expand and help the lower intestine to push out wastes (while curbing hunger by making you feel full).
Psyllium capsules contain essential fiber for the gut and can be found at any health store. Oatmeal and bran cereal are two delicious and easy to find foods that provide lots of dietary fiber. Many different kinds of nuts are fiber-rich and delicious to nix in salads and cereals.
Unlike a juice cleanse (which isn't healthy to do for too long), you can continue eating fiber rich foods after the cleanse to help maintain digestive function. According to the Mayo Clinic men should get at least 38 grams of fiber per day and women about 25 grams. Getting the fiber needed for a cleanse isn't difficult. For example, just one cup of broccoli offers more than seven grams of fiber.
Many traditional cleanses are meant to last a week or a few days. Doing some cleanses for longer than that may cause dehydration, fatigue, irritability and dizziness. A good idea is to begin a home-remedy cleanse for the digestive system for a day to two and see how the body reacts and if digestion improves.