Colon cleansing is the process of clearing out toxins and solid waste that accumulate in the colon. People who practice unhealthy diets are generally more prone to accumulate toxins in their gastrointestinal tract. Performing a colon cleanse will flush these stored toxins out of your system and empty your large intestines of harmful substances. If you’re looking to improve your digestive health and keep your body in tip-top shape, you may benefit from cleansing your colon.
Are Colon Cleanses A Good Idea?
A colon cleanse aims to:
- improve liver function
- boost digestion and metabolism
- relieve constipation
- reduce the risk of colon cancer
Research indicates that colon cleansing may result in an “improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms” for patients with irritable bowel syndrome. In turn, it aids in weight loss as the digestive system recovers, and healthy bacteria repopulate.
There are numerous ways of performing a colon cleanse, ranging from mild laxatives and supplements to irrigation, which may require medical supervision. Nonetheless, there are much safer and more natural ways of cleansing that only need you to make changes in your diet.
Certain risks come with colon cleansing. A proper colon cleanse requires medical supervision. Before opting to undergo any detoxifying measures, it is best to consult with a medical provider first.
How Does a Colon Cleanse Work?
The process requires you to take in a large volume of fluid into your colon. The goal is to eliminate the waste substances that your body may store due to unhealthy dietary practices. There are a few methods for doing a colon cleanse.
Supplemental colon cleanses or natural detox routines are highly recommended as opposed to a colon irrigation. The latter poses harm against your body as it mechanically injects substantial amounts of herbal solutions into your colon. Side-effects are evident through cramps, diarrhea, and nausea.
Conversely, a supplemental colon cleanse uses only mild laxatives that contain herbal extracts. It does not involve flushing large amounts of fluid solution into the body, which makes it a much safer alternative.
You may opt to incorporate more fiber and liquids into your diet if you prefer to avoid supplements. When going the natural detox route, you must establish a routine for a specific period for the detox to take effect.
Does A Colon Cleanse Help You Lose Weight?
One of the side-effects of a colon cleanse is weight loss. Initially, you may shed a few pounds as water weight and stool leave your body. However, it is not a permanent solution to a weight problem. Ideally, you should use this process as a take-off point towards a healthier diet and regular exercise to maintain your new weight.
Natural Colon Cleanses
There are several ways of doing a colon cleanse at home. These natural means are much safer, and you can use them regularly. Maintaining the following items in your diet will have long-term effects on improving your metabolism, digestion, and overall health.
Water intake is the most basic means of cleansing the colon naturally. It makes stored waste (or stool) moist enough to pass through the colon easily. A lack of water intake can trigger dehydration, which causes limited bowel movement. This results in stool becoming hardened, making it difficult to pass and causing constipation. Studies show that frequent constipation may lead to colorectal cancer.
Experts recommend drinking six to eight glasses of lukewarm water daily for a proper water flush cleanse. You may count other beverages mixed with water to be part of your daily water intake. However, plain water is still the most advisable option as it has zero calories and sugar.
You can supplement your daily water intake with certain foods containing high amounts of water, such as:
- Brussels sprouts
Fruit and Vegetable Juice
Pure fruit and vegetable juices contain healthy substances that help facilitate a natural colon cleanse. Juice cleansing advocates recommend fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber, fructose, and phytochemicals.
Some juice cleansing programs require you to intake only fluids like water and fresh juices for days at a time. Fitness junkies commonly refer to them as “juice fasts” or “master cleanses.”
The most widely recommended types of juices include banana, pear, apple, kiwi, prune, grapes, and lemon. Instead of plain juicing, health authorities advocate blending the fruits and vegetables into a smoothie. Doing so will keep all the nutrients and fiber intact, which is great for the colon.
However, some researchers advise against juice cleanses as they can pose health concerns, especially for people with diabetes Nonetheless, as long as you perform juice cleanses in moderation, juicing will greatly benefit your digestion and help you stay hydrated.
Fiber is one of the most beneficial macronutrients to include in your diet. It regulates your body’s bowel movements, which activates a healthier digestive cycle. High-fiber food can help prevent constipation and overactive bowels. Incorporating fiber into your colon cleanse regimen will prevent stool from accumulating in your colon while producing healthy bacteria, such as probiotics.
You can easily find fiber in natural whole grains, seeds, beans, nuts, and berries. Instead of snacking on junk food, replace it with a pack of mixed nuts or seeds. As for grains, opt for brown rice since it has fewer calories while being high in fiber.
Fiber supplements are available for those who are not able to make dietary adjustments. The most popular fiber supplements are polycarbophil tablets, psyllium, and methylcellulose. These supplements are available over the counter and are effective at treating occasional constipation or irregular bowel movements.
Consider looking into fermented food when planning for your colon cleanse. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, the types of bacteria that your body needs to improve your digestive health. By assisting the bowels in pushing the stool out of the colon, probiotics reduce the risk of constipation, bloating, gassiness, and infections.
Some of the most common fermented foods rich in probiotics are yogurt (regular and Greek), kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, select types of cheese, and apple cider vinegar (ACV). Apple cider also contains enzymes and acids that suppress bad bacteria and positively impact a colon cleanse routine.
Studies suggest that there is a potential link between probiotics and the prevention or treatment of colon cancer. Further research is required to definitively evaluate these possibilities. Nonetheless, having a healthy gut and digestive tract provides important benefits to your overall health, among them is a stronger immune system.
Resistant starches function like soluble fiber. Studies show that these superfoods have potent health benefits, such as regulating blood sugar levels, improving insulin sensitivity, preventing obesity and maximizing digestion. This type of starch boosts gut microflora, which reduces the risk of colon cancer.
Foods that contain resistant starches are difficult for the body to digest, which adds weight to the stool. Bulkier stools stimulate the bowels faster and aid in cleansing the colon.
The most recommended foods rich in resistant starches include potatoes, sweet potatoes, sugar beet, sugar cane, sweet corn, buckwheat, millet, white bread, and grains. However, foods with resistant starches are also high in carbohydrates. For those who want an effective colon cleanse but prefer a low-carb diet, you may find greater success in options that produce less blood sugar spikes such as waxy potatoes and rice.
Lemon juice is well-known among many health-conscious dieters for its wondrous effects on digestion and metabolism. Drinking a glass of lemon juice on an empty stomach delivers the extracts straight to the gut mucosa, which provides extremely positive effects for colon cleansing. Lemons are also rich in Vitamin C. Studies show that Vitamin C is a relevant component for an effective colon cleanse.
An alternative to pure lemon juice is lemon water. The recipe for lemon water is simple. Squeeze lemon into warm or cold water, and let it rest to get the lemon and water to infuse together. But please note that while lemon water is completely natural, it is still best to take it in moderation. Lemon water should not serve as a permanent replacement for plain water.
Herbal teas are becoming more popular for their positive effects on digestive health and increasing metabolism. Research shows that the regular intake of herbal teas lowers the risk of colon cancer. There are also laxative herbal teas such as aloe vera, psyllium, senna, ginger, and marshmallow root that prevent or relieve constipation.
More common herbs such as ginger and lemon tea possess antimicrobial elements that can prevent the spread of harmful bacteria. For this reason, fitness enthusiasts usually infuse herbal teas in their colon cleanse regimens, such as juicing. You can also make herbal tea by steeping the leaves in hot water.
Colon Cleanse Benefits
Scientifically, no studies have confirmed the benefits of colon cleanse procedures, whether the cleanse is achieved through dietary means or through irrigation. However, colon cleansing advocates claim that these procedures can yield numerous health benefits.
The most relevant effects of colon cleansing include toxin removal from the colon, detoxification of the body, and improved digestion. As the gut is relieved from wastes, it will give you a lighter feeling and result in temporary weight loss.
Benefits that still need further research are:
- fortification of the immune system
- better liver function
- relieving bloating and gas
- prevention of constipation
- reduction of the risk for colon cancer
Colon Cleanse Risks
For all its health benefits, a colon cleanse does have some drawbacks. Despite those advantages listed above, you must still approach colon cleansing with caution. Keep in mind that there are some potential risks associated with this procedure, whether mechanical or natural.
Some of these risks are:
- electrolyte imbalance
- vomiting and nausea
- increased risk of infections due to the loss of gut microflora
- bowel ulcerations
- lack of nutrients that could lower the immune system
- kidney damages or failures
Should any of these symptoms occur, seek immediate medical attention. These symptoms may lead to heart failure if continued.
People who have preexisting medical conditions should avoid colon cleanse procedures. Research shows that this process could worsen the symptoms of specific conditions such as colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, prior colon conditions, and kidney, liver, and heart conditions. A patient with these medical concerns should not attempt a colon cleanse unless prescribed by a licensed doctor.
For healthy individuals, a colon cleanse poses fewer risks. The worst that could happen are bowel injuries or constipation. It is still best to consult with a medical professional before making any drastic changes to your diet like boosting your fiber, juice, and resistant starch intake.
Likewise, before incorporating colon cleansing tablets or herbal tea supplements into your daily routine, check their contents, and do your research. Overdosing on these natural laxatives may heighten the risk of chronic constipation and irregular bowel movement.
A natural colon cleanse aids in improving your digestive system and metabolism. It not only regulates your bowel movement but also prevents constipation. Studies link cleansing to reducing the risk of colon cancer. However, not everything labeled “natural” is automatically safe. There are still risks involved that could lead to worse health problems such as colon damage, especially for people with preexisting medical conditions.
Those who are planning on a full natural cleanse must be aware of the potential risks involved and should speak with a medical professional regarding any serious symptoms that arise during the process.
Anything done in excess can cause adverse effects. Keep the intake of natural substances or supplements in moderation based on their prescribed dosages. When necessary, set up a professional consultation with medical practitioners to learn how to tailor these natural colon cleanse processes to your current physical condition. Colon cleansing is not for everybody, and the risks may differ from one person to another.