Cleanses and the Colon 1


Cleanses and the Colon
Disclaimer:
I am not a doctor and I have no medical qualifications- I just read a HECK of a lot of research papers. 
This post is not to be read and taken as a substitute for medical treatment
This post was designed to be be read by adults, it may or may not contain swear words. 

cleanses

 

In my pervious post- The Liver, I stated that one thing that detox advocates will usually give is a long bullet point list of why their specific detox is healthy for you. However, there is not much to support these claims in so far a medical literature is concerned. Even The Master Cleanse, a detox that is popular has no scientific back up, which is shocking considering the number of people that participate in it on a regular basis! This week I am going to address the claim that a juice cleanse is an effective way to detoxify the colon. You may want to swot up on the science stuff that I have written about the liver so you get the whole enzyme thing, you may also want to prime yourself with this post on detoxification

Detoxifying, Cleansing and the Colon.

The toxic environment and the process of detoxification was explained in detail in my last post. Detoxification in itself is a good idea, luckily that is what your liver does for you. Avoiding having toxins enter your body in the first place is an even better idea, but many juice cleanse advocates will tell you that the only way to really detoxify your colon is to embark on whatever cleanse it is that they are selling.

However there is no scientific support to prove the detoxifying the colon via a cleanse is necessary. Like the liver, your colon is a professional at what it does. It has no other interests in life to distract it from its job, it is there, in your body, working away and it most likely does not want or need you interfering.

There are people that claim that a cleanse is giving your colon or your digestive system “a break.” This strikes me as a somewhat humors humanization of one’s internal organs. You colon is not like you. It does not need a holiday in order to refresh itself, that is what it does when you are sleeping. It does not hate its boss and need a couple of days off in order to be civil. You colon does not need a mental health break. It does not need time off to walk in nature or watch the rest of House of Cards on TV. People need holidays, colons need good nutritious food. 

Your colon is not a hoarder. NewYorkerHoarding

I have read many sites and sources on the interwebs that make obscure claims that your bowel is hoarding fecal matter. This is simply not something that the colon does. Why would it do that?

Many people believe that the colon is a massive hoarder, and for this reason they feel that they have to cleanse it out. Wash stuff away like one would wash out the sink or the bathtub. The difference is that the side of your colon are all slimy and “stuff” cannot stick to it, so your poop is not being stashed there. Promise.

Also, if cleanses are designed to wash away the alleged hoard of fecal matter, it stands to reason that the cleanse is also going to wash away our beneficial bacteria that is in the intestine to aid digestion and the natural mechanism of elimination.

Even more shocking comes the news that colon and rectum cleansing can in fact be detrimental to health when done on a regular basis! This is due to the potential disruption of bowel movements, rendering the individual dependent on enemas.

The Job of The Colon or Large Intestine
The colon follows the small intestine and is at the end of the gastrointestinal tract. Most of the nutrients that your body wishes to take from the food that you have eaten will have already have been absorbed in the small intestine. The large intestine absorbs any water and salts that are remaining before pushing the stool along to the rectum where your body excretes it. There is no scientific evidence that constipation results in fecal matter hardening into the intestinal walls and just staying there. Your large intestine is smooth and slimy so that could not happen. What happens when you are constipated is that the large intestine expands, so constipation is uncomfortable, but the fecal matter is not being reabsorbed and it will ultimately get pushed out in the order that it entered your body. One of the most common reasons for constipation is a lack of bile. Bile is beautiful and you need it. One of the best ways to create an adequate supply of bile is to eat a balanced diet with some healthy fat in it.  

Cleanses do not help you produce more bile. But, eating good food might.

Direct autopsy observations show no evidence of fecal hardening in the intestinal walls, the call for colon cleaning is ungrounded, yet it still gets used as an excuse for colon cleanses. There is also little evidence that stools are toxic, as if they were all people that suffer constipation would have a higher rate of colon or digestive diseases than that of the general population, and this is not the case.

Can colon Cleanses damage?

Potentially yes. Too much water all in one go can cause abscesses and wash out the electrolytes that the colon was built to absorb. A big wash of water can also flush out the bacterias that are essential for digestion.

Does regular matter?

A regular bowel movement has for a long time been considered what it is to have a healthy system. But there is little science to support the claim that those who go more often are healthier people. In fact, your body is probably doing a pretty good job of looking after itself without your intervention if you are eating a healthy balanced diet and getting a good amount of exercise. Your body probably knows when you should poop, I’m just saying, sometimes its better left to do what it does without you worrying about it, Unless you have symptoms that tell you otherwise, don’t freak out if you do not poop every day. 

Lessening you levels of stress is one thing that will mean your body has more resources to dedicate to digestion and bowel functions, so rather than spend money on cleanses, I would look at potential stressors and see if you can spend that time eliminating those.

The best thing that you can do for your colon, like so many other parts of your body is eat a well balanced diet. 

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About Tabitha Farrar

I work as Head of Marketing for a software startup in Boulder. As a recovered Anorexia sufferer, I advocate for proper understanding of eating disorders in my spare time. On that note, I wrote a book about my own journey into eating again called Love Fat.


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