November 4, 2016

Doing a Detox? 5 Ways to Make it Less Miserable.


Initially feeling like crap when we detoxify is a good thing.

I realize it doesn’t sound pleasant, but look at this experience as a healing crisis that helps us feel better.

When we eliminate sugary, addictive, toxic foods and drinks, we usually initially have uncomfortable symptoms like achiness, flu-like symptoms, irritability, nausea, headaches, brain fog, constipation, hunger, itchy skin, fatigue, and sleep difficulties.

They occur for several reasons, like unreleased toxins in our digestive system and food allergies.

When we take out the junk from our diet, we can actually experience withdrawal similar to other addictive substances like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, or heroin. Going through the process is hardly easy.

My patients tend to get frustrated when they start a detox. I’ve found if I warn them ahead of time of impending symptoms, they typically feel better after a few days passes. Stay the course and things will get better!

The average time to get over a detox crisis is about 48 hours. As unpleasant as this can be, we must be patient and allow our body the time it needs to adjust to new, healthy lifestyle choices.

The good news is we can make this process easier. We can start our detox protocol on a weekend, for instance, or when we have some time off. Rather than caloric-restrictive programs like a juice cleanse that only make this process worse, we can implement food-based programs like my 10-Day Detox to avoid detoxing too quickly.

These five strategies can further help ease discomfort when we detoxify.

  1. Increase healthy fats and protein. When we remove sugar and other unhealthy carbs, we can experience strong cravings. Plenty of healthy fats and protein like nuts and seeds, avocados, and wild fatty fish will reduce those cravings and stabilize our energy levels.
  2. Support the body as it releases toxins. Drink plenty of water to help release toxins. Visit a sauna or get a massage. Try gentle stretching or yoga to flush out the circulation and lymphatic systems.
  3. Keep things regular. If we are backed up, toxins will become backed up too. If we experience constipation, we must ensure we’re drinking enough water to clear our bowels. We can also sprinkle freshly ground flaxseeds, which are high-fiber and absorb water to eliminate efficiently, into our salads or smoothies.
  4. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise becomes a great way to kick-start detox and elimination. Walking is great. So is yoga, burst training, or weight resistance. We might need to go easier on our body during the detox process.
  5. Get sufficient sleep. Sufficient sleep becomes mandatory to properly detox the body. Our bodies actually detoxify while we sleep. Not getting eight hours of quality sleep nightly or getting poor sleep disrupts that process. To remedy what might become insufficient sleep, take short afternoon naps or lie down for 10 minutes.

If these strategies fail, consider an herbal laxative such as cascara, senna, or rhubarb. These work wonderfully at bedtime for short-term help.

Miserable though these symptoms might feel, please do not give up. A one to three day adjustment period when we begin detoxifying is common. These symptoms will pass. We are on the right path to achieving optimal weight and good health.

If symptoms persist for a longer period of time, something deeper might be occurring. If that’s the case, I recommend seeking a Functional Medicine Practitioner.

If you’ve detoxified, did you struggle initially with symptoms? Did you feel better once you stayed the course? Share your thoughts below or on my Facebook page.


Author: Dr. Mark Hyman

Image: Milo McDowell/Unsplash 

Editor: Emily Bartran

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