Are cleansing supplements right for you? Colon cleansing supplements are on the rise. Proponents of colon cleansing believe that toxins from your gastrointestinal tract can cause a variety of health problems, such as arthritis, allergies and asthma. They say that colon cleansing — also called colonic irrigation — remove these toxins, thus promoting healthy intestinal bacteria, boosting your energy level, promoting weight loss and enhancing immune function.
While there is little scientific evidence to support the benefits of colon cleansing, critics say it’s generally unnecessary and at times may even be harmful. Although doctors prescribe colon cleansing as preparation for medical procedures such as colonoscopy, most don’t recommend it for detoxification. Colon cleansing will provide temporary weight loss; however, the pounds can return after normal food consumption is resumed. Dehydration is an additional concern with all cleansers, as fluid is lost in addition to waste.
The critics’ reasoning is —simple: The digestive system and bowel naturally eliminate waste material and bacteria — your body doesn’t need enemas, special diets, machines or pills to do this. There is no question that a healthy gut leads to better over all health, but the source of cleansing is key. The optimal approach for a healthy colon is to keep the bowls moving with natural fiber, water and exercise. This may be achieved by consuming foods high in fiber (fresh fruit & vegetables, whole grains, beans, and oats), drinking plenty of water, and exercising on a daily basis.
If additional fiber is needed for healthy bowl function, consider a natural form of fiber from supplements. The most common type of fiber is psyllium, a soluble plant fiber. This is a popular fiber for helping to relieve constipation. It is worth noting though that some people can experience problems with psyllium fiber and may find another type less harsh on their stomachs.
Other brands use methylcellulose (a plant fiber), calcium polycarbophil (a synthetic fiber) and guar gum (a plant fiber). All of these fiber supplements contain soluble fiber, which means that the fiber absorbs water and forms a gel when mixed with liquid. As a results, it can be useful in helping food move smoothly through the gut.
There’s no easy way to say which fiber will suit you the best. It may be a trial and error process to find one that works for you. If supplementation is needed, start off slow as too much fiber may cause gas and possible GI distress. It is also important to note that if you increase your fiber consumption or take fiber supplements, be sure to drink plenty of water or other low calorie fluids every day. Otherwise, fiber can actually make constipation worse.
Check with your physician before you make a decision to cleanse or supplement.
Interested in reading more? Check out A List of Top 5 Foods for Colon Health