Spring Cleaning? Start with Your Gut!

spring clean gut

It’s hard to believe it, but Spring is just about at our front door. Many of us are still feeling the remains of our wintertime weather, but with Daylight Savings here (or near), we have no choice but to face the truth. Spring is here, and with it comes that overwhelming itch to clean and organize.

Though the origins of ‘Spring Cleaning’ are heavily disputed based on a number of global cultures, it continues to have a modern theme and relevance even today. Not to mention, there is something incredibly satisfying about getting rid of the old and starting fresh. But while we’re discussing traditional aspects of your Spring Cleaning routine, there may be another site that could do with a little refreshment this time of year:

Your gut.

Okay, maybe that leaves more questions than answers, like ‘Why does my gut need to be cleaned?’ or ‘How does one Spring Clean their gut?’

Let’s start off with understanding why you might benefit from helping your digestive system get rid of unwanted waste.

Even if you’re part of the ‘regular squad’ and you likely poop once a day, your body is constantly producing more waste. Your stools are made up of liquid, undigested food, dietary fiber, fat, minerals, and protein - in addition to bacteria and other microbes. For those who aren’t so regular, you’re likely to have more of that waste built up in your system. This can cause discomfort in your gut and can make you feel bloated. 

More than likely, there are a number of reasons why how frequently (or infrequently) you go might need some attention. Whether your diet, your medication, or other lifestyle factors are to blame, there are a number of ways you can help ease the burden of waste in your gut and give your body that feeling of ‘refresh’ you get after a good seasonal cleaning. 

6 Reasons You Might Be Backed Up

You’re dehydrated

Scientists have known for some time that your fluid levels can influence how easily your digestive system moves food waste along.1 If you’re not fully hydrated, it may be difficult for you to pass your waste regularly. Dehydration can also impact your gut microbiome, affecting the richness and diversity of the microbes that call your gut home. Water is necessary for a healthy balance in the types of microbes that live there, which in turn affect your digestion.2  

You’re not getting enough fiber 

Fiber, it turns out, could be one of the most important nutrients to consume for optimal health and longevity, including healthy metabolism, cardiovascular health, colon health, and digestive health.3 Not consuming enough fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can lead to constipation. Fiber adds bulk to stool and helps it move through the digestive system. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water as you increase your fiber intake. Not getting enough water with your fiber can slow down your motility as well, creating occasional bloating and constipation. Fiber binds with water to help move waste through your digestive system.

You’re not active enough

A sedentary lifestyle can slow down the digestive system, leading to sluggish motility. Your digestive tract is a muscle itself, and regular activity helps get more blood flow to your muscles, including your intestines. This stimulates them to become more active and stronger, moving the waste through your system to be evacuated. 

This does not mean you need to become a triathlete for smoother digestion. A simple walk for 20-30 minutes after a meal can effectively stimulate your digestive system, helping move food through your tract, and even has added benefits, like regulating healthy blood sugar levels.4

Your stress levels are high

Stress, anxiousness, and feelings of sadness can influence bowel habits and contribute to slow digestion in some individuals. 

Stress can lead to constipation through several avenues. Hormones that are released during times of stress, such as epinephrine, put your body in the “fight or flight” mode to deal with the situation, and blood flow is directed away from the intestines to the heart, lungs, and brain. This effectively slows down digestion and movement in the intestines.5

Stress may also contribute to other issues that affect optimal digestion, such as gut microbiome diversity. In addition, those who are under stress are more likely to have a poor diet, drink too little water, and be more sedentary, all of which slow down digestion.5 

You’ve been traveling

It’s not just a myth. Traveling knocks your body out of your daily routine and that can have an impact on your body’s natural rhythms of digestion. Plus, extended periods of inactivity (like sitting in a car or traveling on a plane) lessens your body’s ability to move things along as per usual. 

Your medication 

Sometimes our medications have unexpected consequences that can disrupt how frequently we go. Fortunately, it’s likely a noted side effect listed on your prescription. You can always talk to your doctor or a pharmacist to learn more about if your medications are impacting your digestive regularity.

Can colon cleanses help?

Although there may be other reasons why your digestive process isn’t quite normal, they all are likely pointing to some sort of imbalance in your gut. You may benefit from a little more movement in your digestive tract, but before you take your next steps - it’s just as important to know what not to do. Many of us have seen marketing that pushes herbal or pharmaceutical products touted as being beneficial ‘colon cleanses.’ Whether they’re sourced from natural ingredients or not, it’s important to note that your body’s natural process is usually the right one.

Taking a product to help you clear out your digestive system can often have unexpected negative effects. For example, forcing out stools or other waste through the use of a colon cleanse might be harmful or disruptive to your gut ecosystem. Many of the microbes that thrive in your digestive tract are located within the colon (which is the ‘exit’ site for our digestive tract). Many products may cause our body to overcompensate and expel waste at an increased rate - or in layman's terms: leaving us sitting on the toilet for an extended period until the colon cleanse has been completed - which can unnecessarily clear out the populations of our gut flora. Additionally, these products tend to force out wastewater and cause loose bowels, potentially leading to dehydration.

In general, colon cleanses are likely not necessary to help you “spring-clean” your gut. Rather just a few simple dietary changes might do just the trick.

How Best to Spring Clean Your Gut

We recommend the tried and true HHP method, perhaps best remembered by the mnemonic device Happy Happy Poop method: Hydrate. High-Fiber. And Probiotics.

For the healthiest way to help clean out excess waste from your system, grab some water, increase your consumption of fiber-rich foods, and be sure you’re getting the right probiotics, which can occur naturally in many foods you eat. Each one of these recommendations can help balance your gut in different ways and make it easier for you to optimize your digestion and keep your system in healthy working order.

Although your Viome recommendations may vary from your neighbor, there are boundless foods rich in fiber ranging from avocados, whole grains, beans, to fruits such as pears and apples. Even if you may not find any of these nutrient rich foods in your Superfood list, rest assured that your food recommendations reflect a healthy range suitable for your needs. All you have to do is consult the Viome App and look through what’s recommended for you!

We also know you’re likely getting antsy to start your spring cleaning routine. After all, it is the season of renewal. But getting a fresh start sometimes requires a little inner reflection first. What do you need to feel refreshed? What does your body require to get back into shape? Sometimes it’s as simple as evaluating what you put in your body and what to kick out. Doing a quick assessment of your diet and lifestyle is a great way to kick off spring and start with a clean slate.

Maybe it’s time to do a deep dive into your inner temple needs - and not just the one you live in. And remember, for the millions of microbes that live inside you, they likely want to thrive in a healthy environment, too. It’s a form of synergy. What good you put in equates to the good that comes out, even if it’s your poop.


1 Arnaud MJ. (2003). Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Dec;57 Suppl 2:S88-95. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601907. PMID: 14681719.

2 Patino, E. (2023, Aug). Digestive Health - Blog, Everyday Health. Online at everydayhealth.com 

3 Barber TM, Kabisch S, Pfeiffer AFH, Weickert MO. (2020). Nutrients. 2020 Oct 21;12(10):3209. doi: 10.3390/nu12103209. PMID: 33096647; PMCID: PMC7589116.

4 Lucchetti, L. (2023, July). Articles - Medical News Today. Online at medicalnewstoday.com

5 Chang YM, El-Zaatari M, Kao JY. (2014). Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014 Aug;8(6):583-5. doi: 10.1586/17474124.2014.911659. Epub 2014 May 31. PMID: 24881644; PMCID: PMC4249634.