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1 year ago
What You Should Know Before Booking a Colon Cleanse

Flushing out the colon (either with water, laxatives, or supplements) has been a hot topic for centuries. The Ancient Greeks liked a good anal irrigation, and purging the gut of "toxins" has become de rigueur for today’s celebs and alternative medicine fans.

In a recent interview about her beauty regimen, Cate Blanchett had this to say: “I think it’s good every now and then to have a colonic”—sort of like getting a monthly manicure. And reality-TV junkies may have witnessed Real Housewives of Orange County star Shannon Beador try an at-home colonic (apparently she thought a piece of plastic got stuck in her, and she had her hubby try to fish it out afterward—if you wanted to know).

But are there any real benefits to colon cleanses? The answer is hell no, says just about any reputable doc. In fact, they can be quite dangerous. “These cleanses have no proven value and carry a number of risks, such as altering the balance of good bacteria in your gut or even perforation of the colon,” says gastroenterologist Laura Bianchi, M.D., gastroenterologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem. (Yep, sending a hose up your rear-end with a stream of shooting water could puncture the colon, leaving you at risk for infections or other complications.)

RELATED: How Your Gut—Yes, Your Gut—Affects Your Skin

To Bianchi’s point, a Georgetown University review of 20 studies found that colon cleansing offers no obvious health benefits and can lead to cramping, bloating, vomiting, kidney failure, and even death.

So why take the risk? Pro-flushers believe that waste stuck inside the colon walls produce toxins that enter the bloodstream, causing fatigue, acne, weight gain, or cancer. But there’s no truth to that, say experts, and your own internal system works just fine for eliminating nasties from the body. “The colon is designed to store waste, so cleaning it doesn’t make sense,” says Bianchi. “And there’s not ‘years’ of stuff built up in there.”

The kindest thing you can do for your colon is to up your intake of fruits, veggies, fish, and whole grains, while cutting back on processed and red meat. (In fact, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that fish-eating vegetarians have a 43 percent lower incidence rate of colon cancer than meat eaters.) You’ll score the perks of a slim waistline and more energy to boot—no scary tubes or punctured organs necessary.

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