Time for a Gut Reset :: How to Do a 10-Day Sugar Detox

Gut health, schmut health. If you’re like me, you consume what would be considered an extreme amount of sugar through the holidays. With all good intentions, I enter the season with the goal of not indulging in a massive amount of sugar. But, alas, I fall short and give in to my cravings.

Come January, and I’m ready to get my insides SQUEAKY clean! For me, that means doing a sugar detox (i.e., get my organs to love me again by treating them with the respect they deserve, since they keep my home fires burning and churning all day without me giving them much thought).

Below is the skinny on how to get your gut to love you again. Make your liver happy. Keep your heart healthy. Make your digestive system feel like, “Whoo-wee, I sure love what you’re dishin’ out!” 

Why Is “Gut Health” Even a Thing?

When we eat an over-abundance of sugar and processed foods, our bodies begin to do the opposite of a happy dance. Overall, we feel blah. 

Foggy. Fatigued. Bone tired. You know what I’m talking about. 

By doing a sugar and processed food detox, we start to get things back into balance in two ways: 

  1. Regulate Insulin. Your pancreas produces insulin, then uses the glucose as fuel. Overeating sugar makes you create more insulin than your body needs. The extra insulin is stored as fat.

    You’re hearing me correctly, friend. Sugar that you do not need (the energy you don’t use) is stored as fat in the body. Excess fat can lead to heart attacks, strokes, many cancers, dementia, and aging. 
  2. Control Leptin. Leptin is our appetite-suppressing hormone. Unfortunately, too much sugar and fructose block leptin signals from the brain, so the body thinks it’s starving. No bueno!

Doing a sugar and processed food detox can get your insulin and leptin working correctly again, thereby balancing blood sugar, reducing cortisol, increasing dopamine, and reducing inflammation.

Uh, yes, please! Yes, to all of that. 

Gut Health, Say Wha’?

The main goals of a sugar detox are to reduce inflammation and restore gut health. 

You know what inflammation is. When you cut your finger, all your antibodies rush to heal the foreign invasion of outside bacteria, and the cut gets puffy and red. Normal! 

Now imagine that the inside of your body always has a foreign invasion? As a result, you get inflamed while your body is in a constant state of healing. Over time, chronic inflammation leads to chronic disease. 

Gut health depends on having more good bacteria than harmful bacteria, and when there’s an imbalance, it creates inflammation (which damages metabolism) and a wonky appetite. Likewise, an overabundance of sugar and processed foods makes your colon tired. Like, “Whatever, dude. I can’t help you. You’re on your own.”

How to Do a 10-Day Sugar Detox

Get your gut bacteria back in balance by nipping inflammation in the bud. For the next 10 days, rid your body of sugar and processed foods by cutting these things from your diet:

  1. Processed foods and added sugars. That’s right, go cold turkey. Eat all the leafy green vegetables and colorful fruits you want! They don’t have added sugar that will inflame your gut. However, you’ll want to cut out those foods that quickly convert to sugar, including bread, white rice, and starchy vegetables (carrots, potatoes, parsnips, corn, for example). Root vegetables have more sugar than leafy greens. Look it up!
  2. Artificial sweeteners. They’re exponentially more sweet than natural sugar, which can trick your metabolism into thinking sugar is coming in hot. Instead, you’re anticipating the high. As a result, your body pumps out more insulin even that it does not need (see above statement about insulin). 
  3. Refined and processed oils. Stick to “real,” unprocessed oils like olive oil, grapeseed oil, or avocado oil. They reduce the risk of heart disease. Remember, inflammation is no bueno. 
  4. Alcohol. Alcohol is just sugar. And it can inflame your liver. We can’t have an unhappy liver!

But, But, But…

Listen, I get that cutting everything out cold turkey is hard. So you’ll tend to want just to cut down. I mean, that’s something, right?

Yep, it’s something. 

But it isn’t creating a squeaky-clean gut with a colon that says, “Boy, howdy! This thing is like a slip-n-slide.” Eating healthier makes you poop better, too. That’s no secret. 

Research shows us that the most critical thing for our health is to reduce inflammation. The single most important way we can reduce inflammation is by cutting out harmful foods to our gut. 

To learn more about gut health, I suggest reading Dr. Mark Hyman’s 10-Day Sugar Detox for more information. This is the program I used when I got my eating in order seven(ish) years ago. 

Jennifer Slingerland Ryan knows a thing or two about kids and families. First, she knows they are joyous, exhilarating, loving and so darn fun. Second, she knows they suck your life dry and make you weep like a baby. By day she’s a psychotherapist; by night she’s a mom and wife. She claims to love therapizing couples, educating parents, reading dystopian fiction and sleeping in her free time (read: she never sleeps). Jennifer is a mom of twins, two 15 year olds. Her youngest is...a joy. Let's just stop there. Most days you can find her in her office seeing clients, doing laundry, loading or unloading the dishwasher, or catching up on the latest episode of Real Housewives of (Insert City Here), Walking Dead or This Is Us. She is a tree-hugging country girl from West Texas who reads, writes, and teaches about human development and families as a hobby and profession. You can read more from Jennifer at her therapy blog, ichoosechange.com