The Truth Behind Colon Cleanses: Do You Need One?
These days it can seem as if everyone from Hollywood celebrities to your neighborhood barista is touting the benefits of colon cleansing. Devoted colon cleansers say it’s essential for ridding the colon of excess toxins that accumulate over time. According to cleansers, this waste build up can overwhelm the colon and even cause toxins to seep in the blood stream, leading to fatigue, bloating and weight gain. Regular colon cleanses flush out these toxins and bring balance back to the body. Is there any truth behind the hype, or is flushing out your colon the equivalent to flushing money down the toilet?
Throughout history, everyone from the ancient Egyptians to medieval Europeans have touted the benefits of colon cleansing for good health. Cleansing supposed benefits include washing away old fecal matter and toxins. However, scientists say the benefits of colon cleansing are unproven and, in some cases, unnecessary cleansing may even be harmful. According to a 2011 Georgetown University study, there are zero benefits to colon cleansing. Worse, the study found that routine colon cleansing could actually worsen the body’s ability to generate proper bowel movements, causing frequent cleansers to become dependent on enemas. Yikes!
How to Keep the Colon Healthy, No Cleansing Required
Unless you’re preparing for a colonoscopy, there’s little need for a clean out the colon. However, there are plenty of things you can do each day to keep your colon healthy. Start by eating a fiber-rich diet. High-fiber foods will keep waste moving along your digestive track for regular bowel movements. Next, check your vitamin intake: are you getting enough Vitamin D? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends Vitamin D for colon cancer prevention. In general, 15 to 20 minutes of daily sun exposure is sufficient for Vitamin D production; you’ll also get Vitamin D from foods like milk and cereal. If you aren’t getting enough Vitamin D, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement.
If you’re absolutely convinced that a colon cleanse is for you, talk to your doctor before attempting any at-home cleanses. While a variety of colon cleansing kits are available over-the-counter, it’s best to talk with a health professional before attempting any at-home treatments. And if you do decide to cleanse, be prepared for the after effects! Keep some hygienic cleansing lotion like Soothe 'n Wipe at the ready to relieve any rectal irritation and post-cleanse pain.