Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cleanses: Healthy or Unsafe?

Before I start, let me say this. I am against colon cleanses unless absolutely necessary, so my advice here may not be the most objective. Please do some more research before making a decision.

A few weeks ago, I was discussing with a group of African ladies about cleanses. The consensus around the table was that it was a great tool to flush out the system and lose a little weight in the process. In fact, one lady mentioned that Dr. Oz had said it was okay to cleanse as long as it was not done too often. So with my detective mind and my anti-cleanse conviction, I decided to do some research. I found out that Dr. Oz does say that if the colon is healthy, the mind is happy, but that’s where he ends it. Actually, Dr. Oz had performed a trial on a few women and men to see if cleanses had any positive effect on the body. The result? The people who regularly cleansed had not lost any weight compared to those who didn’t, and they were not protected from any sort of diseases. So really the effect of cleansing may be just in our minds.

So I guess the biggest question is why do people colon cleanse? How did the trend start? Colon cleansing started in the early 1900s, but there was no theory to support it so it kind of died down. With the emergence of the internet, weight loss diets, and online medical advice, it came back in style. One of the main theories behind colon cleansing is an ancient belief that certain foods cause mucus buildup in the colon, which produces toxins that enter the blood's circulation and poison the body. So long story short, colon cleansing is simply forcing the colon to expel all of its contents, including the mucus buildup. I hear you say “But isn’t that already what my poop is?” That’s where the big question lies. There really is very little to no research to suggest that regular poop is not enough. 

Doctors have said to people time and time again. You were created with kidneys and a liver that already do the cleansing and detoxifying job for your body just fine. In fact, this is why these organs were created, to flush out toxins. You don’t need any external sources to flush out toxins from your system unless your organs are not working right. And of course if your organs are not working right, you need to go see a doctor, who would prescribe the right type of treatment.

There are two types of colon cleanses: one is using dietary supplements, and the other is by going to a colon hygienist to perform a colon irrigation. I think most of us are familiar with the dietary supplement type of colon cleanse. Is there really research behind the ingredients of these dietary supplements to support the fact that they do the job that our livers and kidneys supposedly do not? If you go online to search for colon cleansing research, you’ll find a bunch of companies claiming endorsement by Oprah and Dr. Oz, and then if you go to Oprah’s website, you’ll find a note stating that they do not really endorse any of these companies. None of the colon cleansers are approved or endorsed by the FDA or any other healthy regulatory body, so you buy them at your own risk without any guarantee (which I’m fairly certain they would write in small print on the bottom of the box). 

The contents of most of the colon cleansers are the same though: acai berry, laxatives, herbal teas, enzymes, anti-parasites, and some other mystery stuff. A lot of companies have been touting acai berry and herbal teas as great weight loss products because they boost your metabolism. We know that they are good for the body as they contain antioxidants, but are they proven weight loss helpers? This has not been proven. I don’t think any of the items that make up these colon cleansers are harmful in small quantities, but when taken over and over, things like laxatives and enzymes can have really bad side effects.

So trust me (for those who know me or have read this blog for a while), what did I do? I went to see my doctor. First question I asked him was about this whole colon cleansing theory. I figured I’d use the most of my time there since it is after all covered in my consultation charge, right? What did he tell me? You’re dying to know, aren’t you? He said I should focus more on what I eat rather than think about flushing my body of toxins. What you put in has more of an effect on your body than anything else. His biggest advice was to eat tons of fiber-rich foods like whole grain, vegetables, fruits, and oatmeal (which I already do so yay!), and drink lots of fluid. And when I say fluid, I mean water, not alcohol. I see all the sad faces around town. Don’t worry, you’ll be okay.

In summary, all the professional advice seems to be pointing towards the fact that you can cleanse your colon if it makes you feel better, but really, it seems like the positive effects of colon cleansing are all in the mind.

Any thoughts?

Cheers Eights & Weights!


  1. I did the Master Cleanse once, couldn't go past day 4 though. My aunt made me come off it cause she didn't like that I wasn't eating. But guess what? I didn't poop even once in the four days. My regular poop schedule is (at least) three times per day. So, there you have it...

  2. hehehe... this post got to me. u know why. thanks for putting my mind at rest


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