Your body can absorb toxins from the environment, the air you breathe, the things in your home and the foods you eat. These toxins can accumulate, and once they reach a level of concentration in a certain part in your body, they can cause undesirable effects.
A lot of people perform colon cleansing to get rid of the accumulated toxins from the foods they eat. Colon cleansing is believed to promote digestive health, which in turn improves overall health. If you are thinking of cleansing your colon, you must learn about the methods first to find out which one is the most effective ways for you, or if it is even necessary to perform a proper colon cleansing.
Your Healthy Digestion: Understanding Colon Parts and Functions
The colon or the large intestine is the last destination of the food you eat before you excrete it as waste. Most of the nutrient absorption take place in the small intestine. The role of the colon is to absorb water and salt turning the food into waste. The waste makes its way into the sigmoid where it is stored. Once you are ready for a bowel movement, the waste passes through the rectum.
The colon also plays a role in absorbing nutrients. A certain type of bacteria called commensal bacteria normally thrives in the colon. These bacteria break down undigested dietary fiber into short-chain fatty acids. They also produce fair amounts of biotin and vitamin K. If you have a low intake of these vitamins in your diet, this can be a significant nutrient source for you. However, if you are dependent on the vitamins produced by the commensal bacteria, you can become deficient if you take antibiotics that can kill these bacteria.
The large intestine is divided into four sections, namely the:
- Sigmoid Colon
- Ascending Colon
- Transverse Colon
- Descending Colon
The names are according to the location of the parts of the inverted U-shaped large intestine, where you will find the cecum, colon, rectum and the anal canal.
Just like the other parts of the gastrointestinal tract, the large intestine is made up of four layers of tissue. These includes the:
- Mucosa: This is the innermost layer where you can find the mucus glands that secrete mucus to lubricate and protect your intestine from coarse food particles. The mucosa releases bicarbonates to counteract the increasing acidity from the breakdown of fiber into fatty acids, and it acts as a barrier to protect your large intestine from infections.
- Submucosa: This is a thin layer of tissue that connects the mucosa and the muscular layer of the intestine. This is where you will find the blood vessels and nerves.
- Muscularis: This is made up of smooth muscles that contract to allow passage of food through the colon.
- Serosa: The outermost layer, it is made up of a thin layer of tissue that produces liquid to lubricate and protect the outer layer of the large intestine to prevent rubbing against other organs in the abdomen.
The large intestine is, in fact, shorter than your small intestine, about five-feet long in adults. Its name refers to its wider diameter.
Understanding the Benefits You Can Get From Colon Cleansing
Colon cleansing has long been performed by many people to remove the buildup of trapped wastes and toxins in the colon, which may cause digestive problems.
Colon cleansing arose from the theory that toxins can accumulate in the colon over time. It stagnates in the colon then spreads to the whole body affecting overall health, a process called autointoxication. However, experts say there is no evidence autointoxication occurs inside the body because the body is fully capable of eliminating wastes and taking care of itself.
Getting rid of toxins from the body seems like an excellent way to improve health, and this is the reason many people are interested in colon cleansing. But, does colon cleansing help? Is it necessary to clean your colon?
Medical experts say there is not enough research to prove the benefits and effectiveness of the different cleansing methods, therefore, they do not recommend it as treatment nor do they advise its use. On the other hand, people who perform colon cleansing say its benefits include:
- Improved Digestion
- Constipation Prevention
- Enhanced Mental Health
- Increased Energy
- Weight Loss
- Improved Digestive health
- Whole Body Detoxification
Many medical experts do not recommend the use of colon cleansing, but some experts say there have been some successful colon cleansing cases, and they do not stop its use if it makes their patient feel better.
Colon Cleansing Methods You Can Try
Colon cleansing comes in various methods. These methods may be done at home with the use of natural substances or over-the-counter cleansers, or it can be done with the help of a medical professional. Here are seven ways to cleanse your colon and improve your digestive health:
1. Cleansing With Fiber
A regular bowel movement is a sign of good digestive health. Regular elimination of wastes prevents your colon from clogging, which may cause many health issues. A diet high in fiber is one way to ensure you empty your bowels on regular.
Dietary fiber is classified into insoluble fiber and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and turns into a gel. This slows down digestion, therefore, slows down the breakdown of sugar preventing sugar spikes. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve but holds up water like a sponge. It attracts food particles and adds bulk to your stools to make bowel movement easier. Dietary fiber also nourishes friendly bacteria in the colon, which help promote digestive health and function.
Including fiber in your diet is one of the safest and most effective ways to regulate bowel movement. As recommended, women should aim to consume at least 20 grams of fiber in a day and men should aim to eat at least 35 grams a day. The recommended daily intake does not indicate what type of fiber you should eat just as long as you reach the amounts.
Dietary fiber is naturally found in plant food sources. This includes:
- Bran: Wheat, Oat or Corn
- Beans and Lentils
- Nuts and Seeds
- Dried Figs and Prunes
- Green Leafy Vegetables: Kale, Lettuce or Mustard Greens
- Brassica Vegetables: Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower or Broccoli
The fiber in fruits is found mostly in the peels, so eat fruits without peeling off the skin. You can easily reach your fiber target by adding small portions of these foods in every meal every day.
2. Oxygen Cleansing
You can perform oxygen cleansing by taking oxygen-based cleansers in capsule or powder form. Most of these cleansers available on the market contain magnesium, oxygenated magnesium and citric acid. Once you ingest them, the compounds trigger a chemical reaction that results in the release and flow of oxygen in your colon and throughout your body.
The oxygen released by these cleansers aid in getting rid of impacted stools in the colon by turning them into a liquid that is expelled from the body through bowel movement. And, since the oxygen is spread throughout the body, it can also help detoxify other organs.
Oxygen cleansing is a non-invasive cleansing method unlike enemas or colonic irrigation, which will also be discussed later on. It does not require any special diet or fasting. It does not affect the bacteria levels in your colon. It is one of the easiest colon cleansings you can perform at home.
3. Bentonite Clay Cleansing
The use of clays for therapy existed a long time ago. Clay cleansing makes use of naturally-occurring clays that absorbs harmful toxins in the body when ingested. Bentonite clay, for example, has potent cleansing properties, which is why it has become a popular component to some cleansing programs. Many people use it to relieve symptoms of constipation, such as bloating and gas. Some people also say it can even help improve more serious digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.
The cleansing properties of bentonite clay are due to its content of negatively charged molecules. These negatively charged molecules attract positively charged molecules found in toxins inside the intestinal tract. When both molecules exchange ions, they bond together, and the toxic molecule will be bound to the clay molecule. In this bound form, your body can now eliminate the clay filled with toxins through bowel movement.
Bentonite clay has little risk for side effects. But, it may absorb certain types of drugs from your medications, and if taken in large amounts may cause diarrhea. Bentonite clay is a potent cleanser. Be sure to consult with your physician first prior to using it for colon cleansing.
4. Therapeutic Fasting
Who would have thought that fasting can be therapeutic? According to experts, therapeutic fasting generates metabolic changes that help cleanse the body and restore health.
Therapeutic fasting is total abstinence from foods and other ingestible substances except pure water. It requires total rest meaning you will not go to work or perform any physical or mental activities that make use of energy. By diet fasting and resting completely, your body conserves the energy that would otherwise be spent on digestion and other activities by your organs. The conserved energy will be used to eliminate waste in the body and cell regeneration. In short, it helps the body purify and heal.
You may consider therapeutic fasting if you suffer from a loss of appetite, which may be an indication of an acute illness, and resume eating once you feel hungry again. You may need to skip a meal or two or skip many meals.
Other diet cleansing methods may require you to eliminate certain types of food, but they do not provide the same benefits as therapeutic fasting. When you choose to do therapeutic fasting, keep in mind that you should rest physically and mentally to be able to optimize its benefits. Find an environment free from stress and worries. Check with your doctor first if therapeutic fasting will not jeopardize your health.
An enema is a popular treatment for many health conditions such as constipation and poisoning and the removal of parasites centuries ago. It is a procedure done by forcing liquid into the rectum through the anus to flush out accumulated wastes from the colon or induce bowel movement.
Liquids used in enemas can be a mixture of water and the following items:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Herbal Extracts
Colon irrigation, as mentioned, is a type of enema performed by a professional therapist. Enemas performed without professional guidance should be done with caution. It is an invasive procedure that may harm your rectum and intestines if not done properly.
Follow instructions carefully on how it is done. Common sense dictates that if you are allergic by ingesting coffee or any of the items mentioned above, then there is a high possibility you might react adversely to these items when introduced to your rear end.
6. Taking Laxatives
The use of a laxative is one of the most effective ways to relieve constipation. Many people use oral laxatives to treat constipation because it is inexpensive and freely available in most local stores.
Laxatives encourage bowel movements by inducing peristalsis or muscle contractions in the gastrointestinal tract, and by softening the stools. As a result, people with constipation may experience temporary relief. However, it does not treat the cause of constipation nor does it cleanse the colon.
Using laxatives to cleanse your colon can have serious side effects such as dehydration, bloating, gas and weakening of muscles in your colon.
7. Colonic Irrigation
Colonic irrigation also referred to as colonics or colon hydrotherapy, is a form of enema performed in a clinic by a qualified therapist without the introduction of chemicals or compounds. The therapist will flush purified water into your rectum repeatedly to rinse your colon. This helps expel solidified wastes and accumulated toxins to improve nutrient absorption, which in turn improves your health and gives you a boost of energy.
Colonic irrigation is a painless procedure though it is possible to feel discomfort during the insertion of the medical instrument through your anus. The discomfort may last for a few minutes. You may also feel stomach cramps and slight nausea when the wastes and toxins detach from the colon walls especially if you have a congested colon.
Colonic irrigation requires several sessions. Though, some people who underwent the therapy reported that colonic irrigation boosted their energy and improved their sense of well-being after just one session.
Benefits of colonic irrigation include:
- Increased Energy
- Improved Blood Circulation
- Clear and Healthy Skin
- Improved Digestion
- Enhanced Mental Alertness
- Weight Reduction
- Relief from Pressure or Bloating
Colonic irrigation can help in the treatment of the following health conditions:
- Irritable Bowel
- Candida Overgrowth
- Brittle Nails
- Abnormal Body Odor
- Unpleasant Breath
- Backache Stiffness
Overall, colonic irrigation is a procedure that requires an invasion of the body, but it can be safe for you if performed by a qualified therapist or practitioner.
In the Know: Possible Side Effects of Colon Cleansing
Experts agree that there are not many studies to prove the effectiveness of colon cleansing. Another thing that keeps them from recommending it to people is the lack of study on its side-effects. However, experts warn people about the potential risks and myths about colon cleansing methods. These include:
1. Colon cleansing has possible adverse effects. Taking laxatives may put you at risk of dehydration, especially if you do not drink enough fluids. It can also make you dependent on it if you rely on it to move bowels. Diarrhea-inducing methods may alter your body’s electrolyte levels. Low sodium levels can cause lightheadedness, and low potassium levels may lead to abnormal heart rhythms.
Enemas require inserting fluid into your rectum through the anus, which may cause perforations or infections. Herbal extracts used in enemas may trigger an adverse reaction in your body.
2. The detoxifying effects of colon cleansing lack scientific evidence. Despite the growing trend of colon cleansing, there is still little evidence to support its practice. A review study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology last 2001 showed that there were no comprehensive studies to prove that colon cleansing improves digestive or overall health.
Furthermore, practitioners of these methods make no specific mentions of the toxins released by using a cleansing product or performing a cleansing procedure. Therefore, researchers cannot conduct studies to measure the effectiveness of these practices in getting rid of these substances.
3. Colon cleansing is not effective in shedding pounds. Using colon cleansing for weight loss only provides temporary results. Your weight will slightly decrease due to the removal of water and impacted waste in your colon.
4. Colon cleansing is not safe for everyone. People with gastrointestinal conditions that cause inflammation should avoid colonic irrigation. If you have kidney or heart problems, shifting levels of electrolytes after colon cleansing may further jeopardize your health. Avoid colon cleansing if you suffer from severe hemorrhoids, previously underwent colon surgery or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
5. Colon cleansing can affect bacteria levels in your gut. Good and bad bacteria naturally thrive in your colon. Good bacteria combat the effects of bad bacteria. Cleansing your colon may or may not cause an imbalance. There is just no study to determine the effect of colon cleansing on the microbiome inside your colon. But, one thing is for sure, keeping a huge number of these bacteria is healthy for your colon.
A Safe and Proven Effective Alternative to Colon Cleansing
Experts say the human body is specially designed to eliminate waste and toxins from substances you ingest. The liver and kidneys are major organs responsible for filtering toxic substances and preparing these substances to be eliminated from your system.
People use colon cleansing to detoxify or get rid of these toxins. But, would there be a need to detoxify if you do not toxify in the first place?
By eating the right foods and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can gain the benefits of colon cleansing without performing one. If you do not want toxins to accumulate, start by making changes to your diet. A diet mainly composed of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is less likely to introduce toxins into your body. But, this does not mean you should exclude meat and other types of food in your diet because they provide certain nutrients not found abundantly in plant sources.
To lessen the intake of toxic substances, avoid processed foods as much as possible. Before eating fruits or vegetables, ensure to wash them thoroughly to get rid of the pesticide and fertilizer residues. Eating nutrient-dense and healthy foods will not put you at risk of side effects. Most importantly, it is proven to improve gastrointestinal and overall health.
Colon cleansing is becoming a trend in detoxifying and, therefore, improving digestive health. You can choose from various methods, but before choosing to undergo a colonic cleansing, you should learn about its benefits and possible risks. Talk to your doctor, especially if you have an underlying condition or take medications, just to be safe.