Detox culture has infiltrated our news feeds with everything from juice cleanses to cringeworthy cayenne pepper and lemon juice concoctions, now this. This is not a new concept and was part of the Master Cleanse dating back to the 1940s. Drinking salt water as an effort to cleanse your colon and flush the body of toxins brings up a lot of questions. Let’s take a closer look.
What Is A Salt Water Flush?
There are many variations and health claims including colon cleansing, increased liver health, increased energy levels, and weight loss through consuming a glass of warm water mixed with a few teaspoons of salt. This type of water salt flush recommendation originated with The Master Cleanse. While consuming this will certainly induce an on-demand bowel movement, is this healthy and a viable detox plan for your body?
Detoxing, Do I Need It?
Yes! Your body makes waste products during all of the normal functions of metabolism and you are consuming toxins from the outside world through eating, breathing, and absorption through your skin. Lucky for you, the body is constantly processing and flushing out these waste products involuntarily in most healthy individuals.
If you do not have a major chronic health condition, attempting to detoxify through means of severe restriction or ingesting items in peculiar quantities is quite the baffling concept to reputable medical professionals.
Whether you want to or not, if you are an otherwise healthy human, your body is always going through the process of detoxifying. There are simple steps you can take to support this natural process. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
- Stay hydrated by consuming 8 glasses of water each day
- Consume the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables each day
- Include cruciferous vegetables each day
- Consume adequate fiber to support bowel regularity
- Consume adequate amounts of lean protein
- Consider taking a multivitamin
How Do You Flush Out Your Bowels?
Consuming a tall glass of warm water mixed with salt will produce a bowel movement. To save you the google or YouTube search…just trust us, there are many personal accounts of this very event described in great detail. This action is a result of the excess sodium entering your bowel that draws water in creating a laxative effect but this not without side effects.
The colon is a crucial component of your digestive tract. Regular bowel movements mean a healthy digestive system. Don’t sweat too much though, eating a healthful diet and regular fitness can help keep your colon operating smoothly. Many research institutions agree on ways to keep your colon happy. Here are a few from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago:
- Limit red meat to no more than two four-ounce serving each week
- Limit sugar intake
- Increase fiber, make sure to consume 25-35 grams each day
- Be mindful in reaching your daily recommended amount of calcium which is 1,000 -1,300 milligrams each day
- Make sure at least half of your grain intake is from whole grains
If constipation has you down more than once or twice a month and you are desperate for a colon cleanse, before reaching for a tall glass of salt water, get to the root of the problem. Are you staying hydrated, consuming enough fiber, and staying active? If yes, this is the time to loop in your medical team to investigate a possible larger issue.
Staying active will help to keep things moving. Adults should aim to do 150 minutes of moderate activity and 75 minutes of vigorous activity throughout the week.
Will A Salt Water Flush Lead To Weight Loss?
Maybe! But….This is essentially a laxative diet. Meaning, you will lose water weight and you will increase bowel movement frequency. You may experience other symptoms like bloating and nausea that may lead you to eat less overall. This is not a healthy way to loose meaningful weight.
While you can be healthy at any weight, you may be one that has specific weight loss goals. Rapid loss is concerning as it usually involves a combination of severe calorie restriction and intense physical activity. These efforts can be detrimental to your overall wellness and they are not easily maintained as permanent lifestyle habits.
For some, experiencing rapid loss in weight may induce an initial feeling of accomplishment though, in reality, it’s likely that you have only lost water and muscle mass.
For the majority of adults, medical experts recommend no more than 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week. At this pace, you are more likely to maintain your weight goals long term. The “yo-yo” dieting and weight gain/loss cycle have been shown as not only ineffective but has lasting negative implications for your metabolism making health goals even more challenging.
Is Salt Water Good For Your Skin?
Salt water baths have been shown to be an effective treatment of specific skin conditions in people though we were hard-pressed to find consistent reputable information regarding the general benefits of taking a plunge into salt water.
Is Drinking Salt Water Harmful?
In addition to diarrhea, most people may experience nausea, vomiting, sodium overload, electrolyte imbalance, and stomach bloating as a result of consuming this with regularity. Should these conditions continue, dehydration may occur and if left untreated, dehydration can cause health complications including seizures, brain damage, and even death.
It is also well established that excessive sodium intake contributes to life-threatening high blood pressure and can lead to heart problems.
What About Pink Himalayan salt water Cleanse?
While aesthetically pleasing, this pink salt is still just that, salt. Grey, sea salt, iodized, and Himalayan salt all have one glaring commonality. Sodium.
The range of colors available in sea salt are attributed to varying combinations of trace minerals and to those people with an advanced palate, does alter flavor slightly. Some may be marketed to induce romantic visions of ancient seaside mountains, at the end of the day, our body digests them as what they are…nothing more than salt.
Thus, the information covered in this article applies to all salts including using Himalayan salt as your ingredient of choice for making a salt water flush.
Final Verdict on Salt Water Flushes
As an occasional method to relieve constipation, consuming salt water is similar to consuming a stool softener or laxative. If you have been instructed by your doctor to take over the counter medications such as laxative or stool softener, ask if you can instead drink salt water. Some medical conditions require short term laxative use such as surgery that will render you less mobile, hemorrhoids, and pregnancy in women.
Note that the specific salt water flush recipe should be determined by your doctor as the doses of laxatives and stool softeners are well established and there is no specific standard when it comes to consuming salt water. For this reason, most doctors may steer you in the direction of laxatives or stool softeners.
As a weight loss tool, however, this seems to have all of the telltale signs of a “fad diet” as it promises that you will lose weight rapidly through consuming specific singular items (water and salt in this case), has no activity component, and involves a rigid plan.
Your individual wellness goals can be achieved and sustained through gradual lifestyle changes that incorporate regular consumption of healthy foods and reasonable activity levels without the potential negative side effects of a saltwater cleanse.