Experts say the 'sludge' TikTok trend is 'napalm for your bowels' – New York Post

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There’s a new TikTok “health” trend — but experts say it could be harmful.
Salt-water flushes are the latest gut-health trend making its way across the platform, with the #saltwaterflush hashtag gaining more than 11.3 million views.
The so-called cleanse is supposed to “clean and flush” the “sludge” out of your guts and is being used to lose weight fast.
As TikToker @mitch.asser says, the salt-water flush will “go from top to bottom and straight out the back and flush out the entire digestive system.”
Another TikToker, Olivia Hedlund over at @liv.ingwell, says “the goal of the salt water flush is to really get the sludge out of your small intestine.” 
DO UR OWN RESEARCH AND listen to your body this is just how I tell my clients to do these!! #parasitetok #guthealthtok #guthealthtips
Hedlund, who says she is a functional nutritional therapy practitioner, makes sure to tell her followers to do research on their own and trust their bodies before taking part in the trend.
But some experts are responding to videos of the trend in horror. 
Abbey Sharp, a registered dietitian, responded to Hedlund’s video in a TikTok of her own and called the practice “unethical,” with the caption: “No health care professional should be giving a salt water flush tutorial — even if they preface it with a ‘do your research’ disclaimer.” That video now has 56,000 views.
Sharp explains that a salt-water flush can be “very dangerous for the masses.” She says that the “sludge” TikTokers refer to is actually just stool and water, and that the amount of salt being “recommended” in tutorial videos is the total amount of salt you should be consuming in a day.
No health care professional should be giving a Salt water flush tutorial – even if they preface it with a token “do your research” disclaimer. Salt water detoxes can be dangerous and should NOT be relied upon for constipation, especially without professional individual support. #saltwaterflush
“It’s literally napalm for your bowels,” she hits back.
The dietitian acknowledges that this method has been used as an alternative to a colonoscopy preparation, but it can also be “dangerous as f—k.”
She goes on to explain that the rapid loss of sodium and fluids will increase risks of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance — and that it’s definitely something people with existing medical conditions should stay away from.
Sharp advises against trying a salt-water flush since it is unknown how it could alter the composition or balance of one’s gut microbiome. According to research published in Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease, a weakened microbiome can lead to an increased risk of intestinal disorders.
Users commented on Sharp’s video agreeing with her.
“It’s like sea water, which I thought the entire world knew NOT TO DRINK,” someone pointed out.
“The words ‘flush’ and ‘cleanse’ are always such red flags to me,” another said. 
“Why are people obsessed with giving themselves diarrhea?” one person joked.
Other’s took to Hedlund’s tutorial video to call her out.
“Please, people, don’t do this,” a user advised.
“Thinking that maybe the sludge is actually just diarrhea from chugging salt water,” another commented.
“This is literally colonoscopy prep lmao,” a user said.
While researchers believe a salt-water flush could potentially be used to treat constipation, more often than not they advise against it, saying it poses many health risks.
A “medically reviewed” article on Medical News Today says that “the body is able to cleanse itself without help from flushes or washes.”
While advocates of the salt-water flush report that there are minimal risks, the outlet reports that common side effects include nausea, vomiting and weakness. The dehydration and electrolyte imbalance that can be caused by the flush may lead to another set of symptoms as well, including muscle spasms, twitching, numbness, confusion, lethargy, convulsions and heart problems such as changes in blood pressure and heart rate.
The article emphasizes that salt-water flushes can be dangerous for people with existing medical conditions, including those with high blood pressure or other heart diseases, digestive issues or kidney diseases. Those who are pregnant or breast-feeding should stay away from the method.
Medical News Today also points out that “there is limited if any scientific evidence to support the use of saline flushes,” and that more research would need to be done to back up the first-person experiences documented on the internet. 
“It appears that, in most cases, salt-water flushes are relatively safe, but this is not true for everyone,” the article acknowledges.
Aside from being potentially dangerous, there’s no evidence that a salt-water flush would detox the body and remove buildup, according to Healthline.
Though a flush is unlikely to cause serious damage, researchers advise against “falling for the hype.”
“Because a salt-water flush and other types of colon cleanses are unpredictable and may be dangerous, don’t fall for the hype,” researchers wrote. “Instead, do all you can to support your body’s natural cleansing systems and rely on them to keep toxins at bay.”
Experts advise speaking with a doctor before attempting a salt-water flush or any other detoxification method.


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