Wondering how to keep your colon healthy?
There are two ways to cleanse your colon, one is quite invasive and the other involves taking a liquid or pill orally and waiting for it to act on the contents of your bowel before natural expulsion.
How To Keep Your Colon Healthy
1. Oral Preparations
Most oral preparations contain natural laxatives such as senna leaf and cascara sagrada, the last of which is closely related to buckthorn. Senna and Cascara both work in the same way by encouraging the muscles in your bowel to contract, which moves the stools through your body. This helps you to go to the toilet. Our recommended oral preparation is Colon Detox Plus – read our review here.
Some products are based on magnesium citrate, which is a more powerful laxative, which is used medically for constipation and bowel cleanses before a procedure, such as a colonoscopy.
2. Colonic Irrigation
The second method of colon cleansing, was pioneered by Scottish surgeon, Sir William Arbuthnot-Lane, who worked at Guy's Hospital in London, and is credited with his treatment for constipation in the early 1900’s.
Today the colonic irrigation method is administered by a trained colonic hygienist.
The patient is asked to lie on a table and a small tube is inserted into the rectum. Water is introduced to the colon via this tube by a pump. When adequate water has been injected the hygienist may massage the lower colon area on the abdomen. The contents are then ejected in much the same way as a normal bowel movement. Depending on the patient the process may have to be repeated to ensure thorough cleansing.
It must be said that using professionally manufactured oral colonic supplements is likely to be safer than colonic irrigation. The competence of the colonic hygienist is paramount and secondly the lower part of the gut is extremely sensitive and even the slightest tear or perforation, caused by the insertion of the tube, may cause serious infection. It is always best to check out any new medical regime with your GP to understand what you are getting into and how safe it is.
What’s The Theory Behind Natural Colon Cleansing?
Historically one of the most popular theories of colon cleansing was that undigested food left in the colon would cause the build-up of excess mucus. The combination of these two would then create toxins, which would be able to cross over the gut wall into the bloodstream. Once in the body’s circulation the toxins could affect numerous organs, creating symptoms such as:
- Increased weight
- Lack of energy
Nowadays this theory has generally fallen out of favour however the importance of maintaining healthy bowel function and flourishing bacteria in the gut remains as important as ever.
What Can Colon Cleansing Hope To Achieve?
The positive claims made by colonic practitioners on colon cleansing are not yet backed up by repeated research. However, what is clear is that a healthy varied diet with plenty of drinks creating a well-functioning gut is likely to promote a better sense of well-being:
Possible colonic cleansing benefits include:
- Research does indicate that colon cleansing may result in an “improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms” for patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
- A more positive mental outlook. Having the reassurance of a regular bowel habit, aided by a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and cereals, along with plenty of fluids creates a positive frame of mind. This will ensure any colon cleansing products you use will be better able to work.
- An improved immune system. Some studies have suggested that after colon cleansing there is a movement of lymphocyte or white blood cells from the gut-associated lymphatic tissues into the body’s circulation, which may improve immune system function.
- A lower risk of colon cancer. Although still being studied some research does indicate a link between constipation and bowel cancer. The thinking is that during constipation the longer period of contact between the bowel contents and the gut wall can allow carcinogens to leach across into the circulation.
- A reduced likelihood of constipation. Everyone’s bowel habits are different and over time most people learn what works and what doesn’t for them. It’s a good idea to try different foods and drinks to get the best results, although from time to time anyone may experience constipation.
Is The Colon Cleansed Naturally?
Human bowel habits have been researched for hundreds of years, so a clear understanding of the processes involved are well established. Over the past 50 years Western diets have changed dramatically to incorporate more refined ingredients. This has resulted in the loss of considerable amounts of fibre in the diet, which has been proven to be essential to a regular bowel habit.
A well-functioning gut can do the following:
- The colon is home to trillions of bacteria which can detoxify food waste.
- The liver converts toxins from food into waste products to be excreted.
- The lining of the intestine has a very important function, keeping the toxic content of the bowel away from the bloodstream. The lining is protected by mucous membranes, which release mucus, which acts as a barrier. This lining stops unwanted toxins from entering the circulation and local tissues. The lining of the intestine regenerates itself every 5 to 7 days, the fastest regeneration of any part of the human body.
- Bowel movement frequency varies from person to person. It is best to experiment with different types of food and fluids to find out what works best for you.
- Increasing bowel movements won’t result in weight loss.
What Comes Out During A Colon Cleanse?
- Surprisingly faeces or poop is made up of almost 75% water. This has originated either after being drunk as a liquid or from foodstuffs with a higher-water content.
- The remaining material is made up of trillions of living and dead bacteria cells. These bacteria naturally flourish in the gut to help break down foodstuffs, so they are easy to transfer into the bloodstream and provide us with nutrition.
- Soluble fibre, which comes from the breakdown of pulses and nuts turns into a soft gel, which helps with bowel movements. Insoluble fibre, which doesn’t break down but does retain water and helps with the transition of waste through the gut.
- The gut wall itself is subjected to quite a toxic environment and consequently the body releases a natural mucus, which acts as a barrier for the gut wall. During natural bowel movements this mucus is continually removed, so the body must constantly replace it.
How To Keep Your Colon Healthy: What Else Can You Do?
- Reduce sugar and fat intake. Eat less deep-fried food, use an air-fryer instead.
- Eat antioxidant foods such as fresh blueberries, strawberries, citrus fruit, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers (red, yellow, and green), and papaya.
- Take a vitamin supplement if you need one
- Drink more water: Drink plenty of fluids, but drink alcohol in moderation.
- Think plenty of exercise. Vigorous exercise is best but even a 20 minute walk every other day will help.
- Stop smoking and reduce red meat intake to reduce the possibility of colon cancer.
The link between tobacco smoking and mouth, throat, and lung cancer is now well established. Use cessation products or join a non-smoking group, which offers a much higher chance of giving up permanently.
- When you reach 50 years old talk to your GP about screening for colon cancer.
Polyps or small growths within the bowel can turn into a tumour over time so it is best to undergo routine colon cancer screening to lessen the risk.