Recently I have had several acquaintances ask my thoughts about beverages that are being promoted as "colon cleanses". These people are aware that I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) through the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the registering body of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I appreciate when those curious about the latest food trend come to me to find out what is truth and what is hype. I am quick to point out that since I don't know the questioner's medical history, I can only offer general nutrition guidelines.
To answer the initial question about whether a certain beverage is effective as a "colon cleanse", I would ask: What is the end goal of drinking this product? Weight loss? Bowel health? Better overall health? Just curious?
If weight loss is the ultimate goal, a liquid diet with the hope of a quick weight loss can be harmful, not easily adhered to and seldom results in long term weight loss. The first step toward making any health change (after seeing your doctor for a physical exam and bloodwork), is to meet with an RDN. The RDN will determine your calorie, nutrient and fluid needs after carefully considering your medical history, relevant family history, dietary and exercise habits, and health goals. The most successful weight loss plan of attack is one that is safe, personalized for you and focuses on lifestyle changes.
If improved bowel health is the goal, include more dietary fiber (unless prohibited by your doctor) by eating more whole grain breads and cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables with the skins on, legumes, seeds and nuts on a daily basis. Drink a sufficient amount of water each day, too, to ensure the body has fluid to properly digest the foods you eat. Beverages promoted as "colon cleanses" provide fluid, but consuming adequate amounts of dietary fiber and water daily will allow your body to effectively process the foods you eat and eliminate the waste regularly.
One of my main goals as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist is to help you decipher the truth from the hype. New foods, beverages and diets are quick to trend, but when a product or diet offers a quick-fix, it is rarely safe, effective, or long term. Remember: good health begins one bite or step at a time....so make sure it is one based on evidence not gimmicks.
Please note this article is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health condition. Please check with your doctor before changing your diet, taking supplements or beginning a new exercise/fitness routine.
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