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Just curious. What do you think of the current "colon cleansing" fad?


Hi Brian,

Thanks for your question; I get this one often.

As I'm sure any gastroenterologist can tell you, it is physically impossible to have "years" of build up of material in the colon - as is sometimes claimed by those promoting colon cleansing. The colon simply does not have the ability to store chyme or stool for the enormous time periods claimed by colon cleanser fanatics.

It is true that at any point in time the colon will have material in it, but this material (almost completely digested food (chyme), and fecal matter) is always on the move - albeit slowly. Bowel movements do not completely empty the colon, and are not supposed to.

The colon empties into the bowel. When the bowel needs to be emptied we feel an urge to go to the bathroom. The bowel is emptied in a bowel movement, but the contents of the colon are not emptied along with it. The colon still has a digestive job to do - it's the last chance to extract small amounts of water and nutrients from the food we eat that were not already absorbed in the small intestine.

It can take fewer than 5 to 12 hours for what you put in your mouth to come out the other end if things are moving too quickly. High fat low fiber diets common in North America can take 24 to 48 + hours to make the complete journey from end to end. The travel time of food through our digestive system is appropriately referred to as "transit time". Rapid transit is when food goes through our system too quickly, and slow transit is when it takes too long. There can be serious health issues with both rapid and slow transit. - Google "bowel transit time" to learn more.

When you have a bowel movement after breakfast, you aren't emptying what you just ate - much of that is still in your stomach - you are emptying yesterdays food.

This is where the colon cleanser pushers start pedaling their, ugh.. crap - for lack of better term. They claim that since stuff is in your colon, it must be bad, it must have been there for a long time, and you will feel better and your ailments cured if you get it out.

The claim that waste and "toxins" are stuck in your colon and must be emptied is pure bunk.

Two common anecdotes from colon cleansing believers:

"I feel lighter/ lost weight" - Really? You mean when you force out the contents of your colon and bowel you are lighter? Wow - what a revelation - or so the cleanser people would have you believe. You're lighter because you have removed mass from your body - that's the beginning and end of it.

"There was a lot of strange looking stuff that came out" - No kidding. Colon cleansing is not a natural bowel movement - one cannot expect the stool to look normal when the bowel is emptied unnaturally.

In fact the appearance of stool is quite variable anyway - it will change depending on what you eat. With low fiber and fluid intake you can expect your stool to be harder. If you have diarrhea - well, we all know what that's like.

If an oil based product is used to relive constipation stool will be oily. If you eat too much spinach/ lettuce at one time stool may look a little green. Iron supplements can cause stool to become very dark.

If you consume a product that is meant to empty your colon quickly or completely, you should expect your bowel movement to not look normal.

The colon cleanser evangelists will ask you to believe that the abnormal looking stool is "proof" that you needed a cleansing. It's an emotional scam - it's only natural to look at strange looking stool and wonder what is going on. The answer isn't that this is "old stool"; the answer is that stool consistency was altered from it's normal state by a product or procedure. The cleanserites know that you will feel grossed out or concerned about the strange looking stuff that comes out after a "cleanse" and they will be there to tell you all about how good you should feel about ridding your body of what they claim are toxins and old stool.

When we don't know much about the facts of normal bowel movements and function of our digestive system, we might be vulnerable to the suggestions of these common charlatans who use fear and the promise of hope to sell you their ideas - and products. Fear not, the Internet also has access to real facts for us to learn, as well as what the charlatans post.

In terms of losing fat with a colon cleanse, it's impossible. Emptying the contents of the colon does not liberate fat from fat cells elsewhere in the body. This is a huge leap of logic that only a turd-brain colon cleaning pusher would make.

Do a Google search on "digestive system". After learning the basic facts of human digestion, the claims made by colonel colon cleanser will be easy to "dump".

- Cris LaBossiere

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For more information contact: clabossiere@rhinofitness.ca

This page was last updated on August 30, 2007