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Colon Health and the Best Colon Cleansers

man overweightThe United States is getting heavy.

Obesity is rampant, at close to 43% of the population.

And it’s not without irony that last month an overweight man had a heart attack at the aptly named Heart Attack Grill.

There’s something else: the world is aging, with 10,000 Americans hitting the sixty year mark each day.

Combine the two factors and it’s a recipe for colorectal cancer, a leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

Enter the colon cleanse.

You’ve heard of that one.

That’s the thing where you go on a special diet of lemons and honey and empty the bowels of fecal matter. Right?

Er, kinda. Colon cleansing is a process to rejuvenate the digestive system, done either naturally or with hydrotherapy.

Though not a pleasant topic, colon cleansing has proven health benefits, from better digestion to skin that glows.

Colon cleansing ain’t gonna cure cancer.

But a natural colon cleanse is formulated with herbals and nutrients that soothe an angry GI tract.

That, as we’ll see, may reduce the chance that colorectal cancer will strike.

In this article we’ll discuss matters of colon health and the issues that tend to creep up with the North American lifestyle.

And at the end of this article we’ll learn more about natural colon cleansing and review the best colon cleanse products.

But first, let’s start with a common problem.

The Colon and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Your colon is the last stop in your digestive system prior to waste being removed from the body; it’s where salt and water are extracted from feces before passage.

Though it doesn’t play a major role in nutrient absorption, unlike the small intestine, it absorbs water, sodium and some fat-soluble vitamins.

Additionally, it assists with fermentation of bacteria.

Being part of the gastro-intestinal system, the colon houses billions of microflora – the naturally occurring bacteria that live in the gut.

In an ideal world, there’s balance between the good and the bad.

Yet when the bad take over, like c difficile, we get digestion problems.

Diarrhea, constipation and the things that ruin your day like nothing else.

An estimated 1.4 million Americans currently live with either Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis

Such infections may also heighten risk of inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the latter being focussed specifically in the lining of the colon or rectum.

Symptoms of Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis include:

  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • rectal bleeding
  • unexplained weight loss

An estimated 1.4 million Americans currently live with either Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, which, though little is known regarding the causes of the ailment, appears to strike women living in northern climates more than those in the southern states, with a 52% lower risk of being diagnosed with Crohn’s before age 30 and a 38% lower chance of getting its cousin ulcerative colitis.

Though rarely fatal, IBD can be very unpleasant, to say the least.

And new studies suggest that people with IBD may be at a higher risk of a looming and often fatal health concern.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon, rectum or vermiform appendix.

Typically starting within the lining of the bowel, it can spread if left undetected to the surrounding muscles and through the bowel walls.

Ongoing screening is therefore recommended, with either a sigmoidoscopy or a colonoscopy, to search for and remove precancerous polyps.

We’ll discuss the benefits of getting a colonoscopy later in this article.

For now, though, it’s important to recognize that colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and there were 1.23 million new cases diagnosed around the globe in 2008, sixty per cent of which occurring in developed nations.

You might not be surprised then, that up to 95% of cases are non-genetic; colorectal cancer is usually preventable, with eating and lifestyle habits being cited as common reasons why people develop this taker of American lives.

Lifestyle Factors and Red Meat

History of inflammatory bowel disease, both Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, may increase the risk an individual will develop the disease, with ulcerative colitis linked to a 20% elevated chance that a tumour will develop.

obese manLifestyle habits, including smoking, sedentary lifestyle and obesity are risk factors that colorectal cancer will strike.

Those who consume more than one alcoholic beverage a day may be at higher risk as well.

Recently, there has considerable attention paid to the link between colorectal cancer and high consumption of red and processed meat.

Specifically, a study conducted by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund found that people who ate 3.5 ounces of red or processed meat each day had a 17% higher risk of colon cancer.

That risk doubled proportionately to the meat consumed, with a 34% risk to match seven ounces of meat consumed on a daily basis.

The American Cancer Society recommends that adults with average risk for colorectal cancer begin screening at 50 and once every decade after that.

While the reasoning is unclear, there is speculation that the culprits are chemicals called heterocyclicamines that are produced when red meat is cooked at high temperatures.

Another suspect?

Preservatives that food makers often add to processed meats, including nitrates, which the body converts to nitrosamines – known offenders in the cancer scheme of things.

The all-American hot dog may be a tradition on game day, but unless you’re keen on a visit from Mr. Polyp and his precancerous cohorts, keep the hot dog within the confines of the ball park.

And pepperoni, and baloney.

And limit that juicy steak to twice a week.

Get the Colonoscopy

Getting a colonoscopy may save your life.

Though long suspected, a new study confirms that, as the medical community has believed for decades, that the colonoscopy is essential for colon health and to detect and prevent colorectal cancer before it develops.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, consisted of just over 2,600 patients, all of whom had underwent a colonoscopy to remove a polyp.

The study followed the patients over an average of 16 years, the longest of which had the procedure 23 years previously.

To no one’s surprise, getting the colonoscopy was essential to detection of this killer of Americans, as removal of such a tumor – called an adenomatous polypreduced fatalities linked to the disease by over 50% when compared to the general population of the same demographics.

Having said that, polyps are persistent little suckers.

Removal of one or several in a colonoscopy does not preclude a patient from further polyps in the future.

And it should be noted that 12 of the patients died during the study, an average of 12 years after that first colonoscopy.

For that reason, many doctors recommend a follow-up colonoscopy after the original procedure.

Four out of five of the patients in the study did just that, and the extra vigilance increased a patient’s chance for detection and prevention of colon cancer.

Even if you do develop colorectal cancer, if you get it early, chances are good you’ll survive the ordeal. Your two best weapons are screening and prevention.

The American Cancer Society recommends that adults with average risk for colorectal cancer begin screening at 50 and once every decade after that. Americans with higher risk – meaning the above-mentioned factors or if it runs in the family – should begin the process earlier.

This brings us to another point that, if you’re keeping score of your risk factors, is of particular concern: the average patient is getting younger.

Colorectal Cancer in the Thirties and Forties

This is a problem.

Colorectal cancer used to target patients in their sixties and seventies.

And while it still does, the range in which it strikes is broadening to patients in their forties and even the thirties.

That’s according to another study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, and consisting of 600,000 patients with the ailment between 1998 and 2007 which found that while rates of colorectal cancer dropped in adults over fifty, they’re increasing in younger adults.

The risk was highest for rectal cancer, which increased by four per cent each year.

Colon cancer in younger adults wasn’t far behind, with a three per cent increase in new cases every year during the study.

Part of the reason why young folks are getting colorectal cancer might be when patients under 50 experience the symptoms, including bleeding, abdominal pain and change in bowel habits, they’re not thinking about cancer, and neither is their doctor.

By the time it’s diagnosed, the cancer is often in the third or fourth stage, with the latter having the lowest rates of survival.

Notably, African-Americans were at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer under 50, as were those without health insurance.

The risk was even higher if a patient’s relative had been diagnosed at a similar age.

How to Prevent Colorectal Cancer

Enough doom and gloom.

Now for some good news: it is entirely within your means to prevent colorectal cancer.

Up to 95% of cases occur for non-genetic reasons.

This means a little vigilance and healthy habits can reduce the chance those polyps get cancerous.

Even if you do develop colorectal cancer, if you get it early, chances are good you’ll survive the ordeal. Your two best weapons are screening and prevention.

Lifestyle habits that protect against this cancer include: 

green fiber diet

  • eat plenty of fiber and green, leafy vegetables
  • limit red meat to twice a week
  • avoid foods with high fat content
  • keep alcohol intake at one drink per day
  • get regular exercise (five times a week is good)

And a final point before we move on.

These habits are great and will have health benefits that extend well beyond your digestive system and that thing called the colon.

But again, at 50, get that colonoscopy, and do it once a decade after that.

Colon Cleansing

So far we’ve talked primarily about colon health and risk of colorectal cancer.

But there’s another element to colon health that, done naturally and without harsh laxatives, may assist colon health and functioning of the GI tract.

We’re talking about colon cleansing of course.

Everyone’s favorite subject right?

You’ve probably heard of colon cleansing mentioned in health circles at some point in the past few years, as the practice has long been endorsed by practitioners of alternative medicine.

And then there’s the enema, which is a form of colon hydrotherapy in which water, sometimes mixed with other liquids, including coffee, are injected into the colon by way of the anus.

The enema causes rapid expansion of the lower intestinal tract.

This in turn empties the bowel of its contents and is a common practice prior to a colonoscopy.

Additionally, it’s often performed to treat constipation and encopresis (involuntary soiling).

The problem with hydrotherapy, aside from the discomfort of having various instruments inserted where the sun don’t shine, is that it strains the body and can disrupt the natural balance of microflora in the gut.

Excessive reliance on hydrotherapy, including the enema, can make it impossible to defecate without assistance.

In rare cases, hydrotherapy is linked to GI perforation, infection from unsterilized equipment, heart failure and even heart attacks triggered by electrolyte imbalances.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid traditional colon cleansing via hydrotherapy completely, especially if prescribed in preparation for a colononoscopy.

But you might consider that there’s a natural and perhaps more effective way to cleanse the colon and reduce related health and digestion problems.

Natural Colon Cleansing

A natural colon cleanse refers to products and techniques that perform the same function as hydrotherapy, but achieved with oral and herbal supplements, for a slower and perhaps safer cleanse and experience.

Unlike hydrotherapy, a natural colon cleanse product is rarely administered anally, nor does it act so quickly.

Instead, a natural colon cleanser is formulated to encourage a slower cleanse process, achieved with natural laxatives, including psyllium husk and magnesium, that studies suggest may be less likely to irritate the GI tract than the more intrusive hydrotherapy and that infamous enema.

A natural colon cleanse product, like Digestive Science Intensive Colon Cleanse, is designed to encourage regular bowel movements and to soothe digestive ailments, including gas and constipation, while treating inflammation of the GI tract.

Remember our friend inflammatory bowel disease?

Get him with natural ingredients like brown rice fiber, apple pectin and acacia gum and he may get less angry.

That’s good news for your health.

There are compelling reasons why people who perform the natural colon cleanse might be better off than people that don’t.

They include:

Awareness – If you cleanse your colon, you’re aware that the GI tract is prone to inflammation and that colorectal cancer is an ugly beast that sometimes follows.

Perform a natural colon cleanse and you recognize that colon health is ongoing, and it’s important.

Fewer Digestive Problems – Bad digestion doesn’t sit well. And if you’ve got excessive gas, constipation, diarrhea or abdominal pain it’s not unlikely that your GI tract is telling you that it’s angry and needs attention.

A slow, natural colon cleanse, in many cases, is just the ticket.

Well-Being – You know how you can restart your computer, and when you do, it’s like all is forgotten and you’ve got a fresh start?

Patients who do the natural colon cleanse route report better skin, mental focus and general feelings of well-being.

That may be thanks to better nutrient absorption – another benefit of natural colon cleansing.

The Best Natural Colon Cleansers

So here we are.

And I’m betting you’ve read through this entire article for the simple reason that you’ve heard of colon cleansing and you’re looking for the best colon cleanse products.

I’ve covered my bases and discussed with you why colon health is important and how colon cleansers work.

So, with that, the best colon cleansers available for your hard-earned dollar:

Digestive Science Intensive Colon Cleanse#1 Digestive Science Intensive Colon Cleanse – For my two cents, Digestive Science Intensive Colon Cleanse is the best colon cleanser on the market today. I like it because it’s specifically formulated with natural ingredients that are proven to reduce GI inflammation. Consider that:

a) The process is a slow cleanse, over ten days, with natural, gentle laxatives and, unlike some colon cleansers, there are probiotics built into the cleanse.

That’s important, as harsh laxatives can disrupt the natural balance of microflora in the gut and trigger further digestion problems.

b) The tools are there for ongoing digestive health. Though beneficial to your health and well-being, one colon cleanse does not a bullet-proof digestion system make.

To that end, Digestive Science offers an additional probiotic supplement.

You can also add the digestion supplement with the superfood chia. Nice touch.

c) The Digestive Science name. There are many, many natural health supplements pushed by fly-by-night operators that do little to offer peace of mind.

With Digestive Science you’ve got the assurance of a proven name – the Digestive Science line of digestion supplements is all about quality and customer support.

Digestive Science Intensive Colon Cleanse is, in my humble opinion, the best colon cleanse product on the market.

Want a starting point to colon health and natural colon cleansing?

Start here.

#2 DigestIt Colon Cleanse – A bit of a step down from Digestive Science.

DigestIt Colon Cleanse is another popular natural colon cleanser in which you’ll find herbals to soothe a troubled GI tract.

They’ve got probiotics, which is nice.

What they don’t have is a name.

There are compelling reasons why people who perform the natural colon cleanse might be better off than people that don’t.

I bring this up because colon cleansing is not a topic to take lightly.

The implications are great, and for that reason, you want a colon cleanse product with name recognition, that knows its stuff and walks you through the entire process, with live customer support at all hours of the day if need be.

Having said that, DigestItColon Cleanse, despite being an also-ran in the natural colon cleanse market, is formulated with respectable ingredients, including bentonite clay and slippery elm. Good enough for a modest recommendation.

#3 Bowtrol Colon Cleanse – Another alternative, albeit less effective than Digestive Science, Bowtrol Colon Cleanse may be worth your attention.

There have been some consumer reports with Bowtrol that its colon cleanser may induce mild dehydration.

And they’re not quite as open about the ingredients of their colon cleanse product as Digestive Science.

Still, there’s a company behind the product.

And considering how many products don’t even offer that (some colon cleansers don’t even have a website – a red flag for a fraudulent product if there ever was one) Bowtrol might be worth a glance.

Your best purchase, however, remains Digestive Science Intensive Colon Cleanse.

Combine that with vigilance and healthy habits, with the recommended colonoscopy each decade after 50, and you’ve got the basics for vitality, colon health and a digestive system that will smile back at you.

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