Feeling bloated, constipated, or just sluggish? Perhaps you’re thinking of going on the Lemonade diet, and you’ve just heard that the salt water detox is a part of it. Now you’re wondering, “How is salt with lemon and water a detox?”
Some people believe that warm salty water can “cleanse” your colon, reduce constipation, and relieve bloating. While this detox is becoming more popular, many are overlooking the risks associated with it. Here’s what you need to know.
What Does A Salt Water Detox Do?
A salt water flush is a way to cleanse the colon. It’s also called a “salt water detox“. Just like other forms of detox, it is believed to help your body eliminate toxins and waste material (5). Some claim that it can even clear out parasites, fungus, bacteria or viruses that may reside inside the colon. Proponents of this method say it can balance the nervous system as well as improve overall health.
How Do You Do A Sea Salt Water Detox?
First you make a salt water detox drink with warm water and sea salt (or pink Himalayan salt). Then drink the solution over a period of several hours in one sitting. During this time you will likely experience some bloating or cramping. After you have finished drinking, wait a while for the salt to act before going to the bathroom. Finally, there should be a “flushing” action that occurs – in theory taking all of the toxins with it.
The Salt Water Detox Drink
The popular recipe of the salt water detox drink is as follows (4):
- 1 tablespoon (or start with 2 teaspoons) of Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt (not iodized salt!)
- 1 liter jar of warm filtered water
- 2 tablespoons lemon water (optional but helps alleviate nausea)
- Warm up the water just right – not too hot or cold.
- Add one tablespoon (or 1/2 teaspoon) of salt or sea salt per 16 oz.
- Add one tablespoon lemon juice per 16 oz.
- Drink as fast as possible, ideally within 5 minutes.
- After taking your drink, you can lie on one side while you massage your stomach to encourage the process to react.
- You may feel large muscular contractions shortly after drinking it and experience a need to go use the toilet.
- Try to wait for 30 minutes or so, until you can’t hold it in any more.
- You might have to make several trips to the bathroom to empty your bowels completely.
Read More: 3-Day Detox Diet: Does Your Body Really Need Cleansing?
Risks And Side Effects Of The Salt Water Detox
There are several risks associated with an intense salt water detox and experts warn against trying it. There is no scientific evidence that it can cleanse your body of toxins or waste material.
Further, ingesting too much salt could lead to dehydration and doing so over a period of several hours could raise blood pressure due to fluid loss (1). Salt water flushes may also cause pain during bowel movements as well as bloating and cramping for people who have certain digestive issues.
If you already suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may experience worsening symptoms after taking a salt water detox drink (10).
Finally, some packets of sea salt may contain traces of aluminum, which can be toxic in large amounts (2).
What To Do Instead of A Salt Water And Lemon Detox
It’s important to know that the body already has a natural mechanism for getting rid of waste and old material from your colon and this is typically healthy and not dangerous.
So before looking for a salt water detox recipe, try supporting your body’s natural detoxifying organs: the liver and kidneys. They filter out toxins from your blood so your body can eliminate them through your waste.
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Eating A High-Fiber Diet
Fiber is a key component in keeping your digestive system healthy (6). Fiber sweeps and cleanses the colon, allowing removing toxic waste much more easily then if you did not eat fiber rich foods .
Remember, not all fiber works the same way. There’s soluble and insoluble fiber where soluble fiber dissolves in water but insoluble fiber does not (8). Both types help prevent constipation through different mechanisms. Soluble fiber absorbs water and can help soften stools. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool, which helps push it out of the way. Soluble and insoluble fibers have other benefits as well, such as lowering cholesterol levels.
The recommended daily intake for fiber is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women aged 19-50. The average American only consumes 15 grams per day; which is nowhere close to consuming enough fiber each day to promote optimum health (9). Our natural diets should provide us with a good amount of fiber daily but processed foods lack the kinds of food sources that add up in terms of total amount of fiber needed daily each day (25 grams per day).
Flush out toxins from your body with 8 to 10 glasses of fresh clean water each day. Water helps transport vitamins throughout the body and helps your organs get rid of built up toxins through their natural processes. Drink 2 cups before breakfast, 2 after lunch, 1 before dinner, and 1 or two at night.
Drinking 2 liters or more per day of water can also help with regularity. Water helps clean the inside of our bodies by carrying waste material and toxins out via urine or stool (12). Drinking citrus juices, such as orange juice, is another way to give your body a flush without having to go on an actual “detox” program that uses herbs and sometimes laxatives to stimulate bowel movements through cathartic action (laxative effect).
Water increases the bulk in stools, while the citric acid in citrus juices acts as a mild laxative by increasing water content and stimulating bowel movements. Both increase fiber’s ability to sweep and cleanse the colon of toxic waste materials.
Read More: Detox Smoothies To Shed Belly Weight: Supercharging Your Weight Loss With Vitamin-Packed Beverages
It boosts circulation which transports nutrients around the body (3) – helping remove old material such as dead cells from your colon. Plus it can help stimulate intestinal peristalsis which leads to bowel movements. Exercise also releases endorphins which help you feel calmer and happier making them more receptive to positive thoughts, ideas, foods etc (7).
However, if you do not drink enough water while exercising that might be counterproductive because one needs to replace lost fluids after they sweat during workout sessions.
Limiting Exposure To Toxins
Toxins are in cleaning products, personal care products, pesticides used on food, and even in some food you consume. Limiting your exposure to toxins means less work for your body’s detoxification system (11).
Start by cutting out alcohol, tobacco, and junk from your diet. Look for natural or organic product alternatives made with essential oils such as lavender, tea tree oil or vitamin E – instead of bleach, ammonia or perfumes.
The Bottom Line
Detoxing is an important part of staying healthy, but your body can do it with the help of several organs, especially the liver and kidneys. Instead of trying out any salt water detox that comes with many risks – try these simple tips to support your liver and kidneys in their work of neutralizing toxins for disposal. If changing your diet and increasing your physical activity does not resolve your digestive problems, see a doctor to address the underlying problem.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Acute Effects of Sodium Ingestion on Thirst and Cardiovascular Function (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Aluminium toxicosis: a review of toxic actions and effects (2020,ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Cardiovascular Effects and Benefits of Exercise (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Cleanse Your Colon with a Salt Water Flush (2017, ownyoureating.com)
- Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dietary fibre: consensus and controversy (1985, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Fiber | The Nutrition Source | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health (n.d., hsph.harvard.edu)
- High Fiber Diet – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Is my IBS triggered by salt? (2017, nutritionist-resource.org.uk)
- The detoxification enzyme systems (1998, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Water, Hydration and Health (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)