Let’s face it,
A good colon cleansing is not the first thing most people think of while boosting their health regime.
It sure isn’t a sexy topic like bigger biceps or better but lifts. Despite this, your colonic health plays a bigger role than waste evacuation alone.
Not only does it house all the crap (no pun intended) your body is trying to get rid of, it also plays host to some 100 trillion beneficial bacteria.
These bacteria aid in absorbing nutrients, influence your immune response and can even effect your mood. Not only that, there is some compelling research that shows disease starts in the gut and your colon health is really a response to how healthy your microbiome profile is- we’ll get into that later on.
Natural Colon Cleanse: How to heal your gut
This guide will serve to help you better understand what herbal supplements are necessary to first cleanse the bad bacteria and fungus. Then, what are the best foods to introduce that will increase biodiversity within your gut. Finally foods to eat that will increase the likelihood of beneficial bacteria sticking around as well as foods to avoid off and on the colon cleanse.
Cleansing herbs and plants
The first part of the colon cleanse is important since it works to kick start your body into toxin evacuation. Laxatives and colonic supporting herbs are introduced for a 12 day cycle to help rid your body of lingering toxins and heavy metals. Herbal cleanses are suggested every 4-6 months to keep your body clean and regular.
This step is broken into 2 sections which should be incorporated together for optimal effects. Now let’s delve into which plants make to most effect together to kick start your colon cleanse.
Plant foods that move
Pretty self-explanatory, these tonics and extracts get things moving by helping to flush out toxins through their laxative effects.
#1 Whole leaf Aloe plant
Probably one of my favorite cleansing plants for its timid growth and easy care. Aloe plants fit nicely on desk tops or kitchen counters. They are a desert plant that don’t need much looking after and will supply your family with years’ worth of medicinal benefits if harvested conservatively.
Many people are familiar with aloe gel being used for scrapes and sunburns but this wonder plant has a few more tricks under its spiky rounded leaf. The gel is quite hydrating and is separated by a yellow film at the edge of fillet. It is this yellow film that gives the aloe plant the laxative effect(1). This mechanism is most likely a form of defence for the plant but offers a great resource fit for any detox or cleanse.
- Not sure if you want a new house plant? Luckily this ingredient has been isolated by aloe producers and can be found in easy to take supplement form no harvesting required.
# 2 Cascara
Native to British Columbia and western North America the Cascara plant is part of the buckthorn family. Many parts of this plant have been used for centuries by Native Americans to make everything from wooden handles to green dye produced from the bark. More commonly it is used as an herbal tonic to induce a laxative effect(2). It is even said that the honey produced from the flowers on the tree will have a mild laxative effect on the body.
- As with any laxative be sure to drink plenty of water preferably with added potassium for all the electrolytes that are lost.
These plants are introduced into the colonic cleanse to work with the cleansing herbs. They aid in bile production and offer a clean slate for your healthy microbiome to flourish. Including these along with the cleansing herbs will make sure you start off on the right foot for the dietary changes to come.
# 3 Artichoke extract
Artichokes go great grilled on the barbecue or soaked and stored in olive oil. Lately artichokes have been focused on for their cleansing effects and their ability to support a healthy colon. This large rugged plant may look harmful with its spiky exterior but once the warm weather is at its peak the plant brings about the most cherished asset – its flowers. The flowers on the plant are what you will find in the grocery store and most well-made extracts. They increase Bile production to help in cleansing your colon as well as reduce bloating gas and un-comfort leading it to be recognized as a treatment for IBS(3).
- When eating fresh it’s best to steam or roast the vegetable. It also offers a high amount of dietary fibre in comparison to its low calorie count, but more about that in the pre-biotic section.
#4 Licorice Extract
Used for centuries by western alchemists and eastern practitioners, this medicinal root was often used for its delightfully sweet taste before being common in traditional medicine. Being many times stronger than sugar it no wonder this root was the perfect candidate for early candy connoisseurs.
Licorice extract has been involved in an astounding amount of studies with new mechanisms discovered each time. Scientist have used this research to isolate compounds within the root known as Coumarins & Stilbenoids. These compounds work as an antibiotic while improving the lining of the gut inhibiting bad bacterial growth(4).
Licorice is also a go to for anyone cleansing their colon due to yeast infections like Candida for its ability to starve the infection. Licorice root extract should be used during a detox to support other cleansing herbs as it acts as a “guide herb” shown in the study by the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
- The potency of this extract is so remarkable that the FDA has even given warning of its side effects to those eating the distinctively flavoured candy.
# 5 Pau d’arco
This tree native to the tropical regions of central and South America has been is commonly used by the natives for its medicinal properties. Even as early as the 1800’s Pau d’arco has been recognized in the western wold for its medicinal recommendations. Pau d’arco has been shown to have antimicrobial qualities through compounds called quinoids, benzenoids(5). It also works to reduce the inflammation that follows an intensive colon cleanse while alkalizing the gut all at the same time.
- Introducing this medicinal plant to your colon cleansing regiment will be sure to ease you through the process.
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Pre-biotic: Colon Cleansing Foods
Now that you have flushed out all of the nasty toxins and pathogenic bacteria that have been slowing you down, it’s time to welcome a new crowd with a little dietary bribery. Pre-biotic foods are high in dietary fibre which your healthy bacteria love! Ensuring your body has enough food to go around for these helpful little guys will make sure you keep the beneficial bacteria close. This will not only allow your body to absorb more nutrients from digestive enzymes but will also make for an unsuitable environment for pesky intruders.
Fiber is digestible, by our gut bacteria, who make short chain fatty acids out of it, which have a number of health promoting effects, such as inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria, increasing mineral absorption—for example, experimentally infused into the rectum of the human body, they can stimulate calcium absorption. So much so you can improve bone mineral density just by giving people the fiber naturally found in foods like onions, asparagus, and bananas. Our good bacteria also use fiber to maintain normal bowel structure and function, preventing or alleviating colonic-based diarrhea, and stimulating colonic blood flow up to five-fold, as well as fluid and electrolyte uptake.
# 6 Chicory root
New research is showing just how much of an impact our colon bacteria have on day to day health. This is fueling naturopathic search to find better conditions for the proper bacteria, while taking steps to avoid the bad ones setting up shop.
Chicory root is full of beneficial fibre, this kind of fibre is much different than Metamucil since it fuels Beneficial’s through the soluble fibre. Chicory root is the best source for this dietary fibre as it lets these healthy bacteria thrive(6).
- Those following a FODMAP diet may have issues finding the right prebiotic fibre to avoid IBS.
#7 Jerusalem artichoke (sun choke)
Not to be confused with the artichoke mentioned above, this plant although still a flower is harvested for its fibrous roots. The Jerusalem artichoke or Sun-choke is related to the sunflower while looking strikingly similar in any garden. The sun-choke sends out runners like how a potato is produced, yet not as commonly found in grocery stores.
The taste is slightly sweet and resembles coconut meat. Sun chokes have been studied for their pre-biotic abilities and for how they are digested in the intestinal track. The unique fibre it provides gives rest to and fuels the beneficial bacteria in your gut, making them a go-to for anyone looking to cleanse their colon(7).
Probably the most potent vegetable in the garden garlic has been used for its antibacterial properties in various applications. It has been touted for being one of the leading vegetables in preventative anti-cancer diets along with the other species in the Allium family. Containing the compound known as diallyl sulphide(8), garlic is able to break down the physical barriers made by bacterial colonies.
When studied against antibiotics for their efficacy in treating pathogens such as the well-known campylobacter virus, the garlic plant was able to destroy defences at a quicker rate than the antibiotics. Garlic is able to work as an antibiotic without harming any of the good cells or beneficial bacteria(garlic). Almost acting as a seeking missile, this breath weary vegetable should make it to your dinner plate more often than not regardless of your cleansing status.
#9 Manuka Honey
One of the oldest dated antibiotics, honey has been preserved and found in the coffins of high priests and pharaohs. Honey has no expiration date and will only crystallize over time keeping all of the antibacterial properties locked up tight. There are many different forms of honey ranging from caramel colored buckwheat to the minty frost like rata tree honey. Whatever nation they come from they all contain antibacterial properties that will help rid your body of harmful visitors.
Different from other varieties, the honey made from the Manuka flower contains a compound called dihydroxyacetone(9). This compound has been shown so strongly to possess antibacterial properties that it is often found in the supplements section of your grocery store rather than the food section with the rest of the honey. High quality Manuka honey should be associated with a factor rating – the higher the rating the more antibacterial abilities.
- Manuka honey ranges in quality from 12-16 or higher and should be no lower than 10 to be considered true Manuka honey.
Probiotics for gut health
Along with setting the stage for beneficial bacteria comes introducing some specific strains. This will keep your immune system on track while aiding in nutrient abortion. Some strains help to produce vitamins while others influence weight loss. It all depends on your personal health goals and what you feel your body is lacking. Below are some of my favorite sources and strains for rebuilding your gut bacteria.
#10 Sauerkraut ( homemade )
As with all the other vegetables in the brassica family like broccoli, kale and brussel sprouts, these vegetables when eaten raw or fermented are packed with beneficial bacteria. Aimed to heal your gut one bit at a time these beneficial bacteria become supercharged when allowed to ferment under proper conditions.
Although cabbage may not be the densest in probiotics of all the brassicas it offers an easy to ferment formation with more bang for your buck in comparison to others. Most store bought sauerkraut has gone through a pasteurization or canning method to lengthen the best before date. Unfortunately the heat applied during this process destroys all of the digestive enzymes created by the beneficial bacteria resulting in a tasty yet useless remedy for colon health.
The best way to ensure you are getting everything you intend to be there is by taking hold of the process and fermenting the kraut yourself. This is can be done through pickling kits (DIFFERENT FROM CANNING METHODS) that can be found here. These kits prevent the unpleasant odor that occurs during fermentation, and makes sure there are no broken jars on the counter as the pressure that builds from this process can get to be too much to handle(10).
#11 Bacteroidetes probiotic
Although not considered a food I felt it was important to include probiotic strains in this list. Ideally you want a diet that fosters the growth of these strains naturally though high fibre foods. This probiotic strain is found abundantly in all humans but especially in those with lower body fat. The majority of bacteria in your gut consists of 2 dominant colonies, Bacteroidetes Vs. Fermicutes(11).
It has been noticed by the scientific community that those with higher amounts of Fermicutes tend to be overweight. In looking closer at the Fermicutes bacteria researchers discovered that they had a unique ability to process energy from food far better than any other. This means that the same food can be eaten by an individual with a higher amount of Fermicutes compared to a person with a lower amount each absorbing different amounts of calories from the same food(12). Increasing the amount of Bacteroidetes in one’s gut could actually help that person lose weight.
#12 Acidophilus probiotic
One of the more commonly used probiotic strains, acidophilus is responsible for producing vitamin K and lactase. Recognized as the sweetness found in milk lactase is broken down by the Acidophilus bacteria which is why it is the predominant bacteria found in yogurt and other fermented foods like miso soup. Some research suggests that this bacteria may help those suffering from a lactose intolerance if taken on its own and not immediately with dairy products(13). Acidophilus also helps maintain a slightly acidic environment so as to prevent the growth of pathogens.
Clean gut diet: what to avoid?
Like any good cleanse there are always foods on the do not eat list. Here are the top contenders to avoid along with ones to introduce if not increase while cleansing your colon. Good Luck and healthy times!
Toxin and stabilization cleanse
- Sugar ( of any kind )
- Tropical fruits (high in sugar)
- Milk and other dairy products
- Canned vegetables
- Processed meats
- Fruit juices (real or artificial)
Candida and parasitic cleanse
- Foods suspected to contain yeast
- Peanuts (traces of yeast)
- Grapes and balsamic vinegar (traces of yeast)
Foods to include or increase
- North American Fruits (apples, pears, berries)
- Fresh vegetables
- Tree nuts (almonds, cashews, brazil nuts)
- Fresh fish
- White meat
- Good fats (coconut oil, olive oil, flax seed oil)
- Milk alternatives ( almond milk, coconut milk)
- Brown rice
- Xiaonan Lu, Derrick R. Samuelson, Barbara A. Rasco, and Michael E. Konkel.Antimicrobial effect of diallyl sulphide on Campylobacter jejuni biofilms. J. Antimicrob. Chemother., May 1, 2012
- http://www.naturalblaze.com/2013/04/10-amazing-health-benefits-of-garlic.html Garlic