Bacteria in the colon
There are 100 trillion bacteria in our intestines. They form the intestinal flora that is so important for our immune system. Most of these bacteria live in the intestinal mucosa, where they aid digestion, fight off unwanted germs, help produce vitamins and neutralise toxins. If the equilibrium of these bacteria is disturbed, the natural gut flora is affected.
When is colon cleansing worthwhile?
Even if the effects of colon cleansing have not been scientifically proven, many people are convinced of its benefit to their well-being. Colon cleansing is said to restore the symbiosis of the intestinal bacteria and rebuild the gut flora. Alternative medicine practitioners do not recommend colon cleansing for people who are already sick, but as a precautionary measure to strengthen the immune system.
What disturbs the balance of the intestinal flora?
The more diverse the composition of the bacterial species in the intestinal flora, the more the intestinal flora benefits our health. Eating a balanced diet makes a huge difference to maintaining the equilibrium. Excessive amounts of sugar or protein, as well as too many empty carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta and sweets, can have a negative impact on the intestinal flora. As a result, the bacteria cannot produce enough beneficial nutrients. Stress has a similar effect. However, the biggest killers of bacteria are antibiotics. They not only kill the bad bacteria, but also partially destroy the good bacteria, making us more susceptible to disease. That is why it is even more important to eat nutritious food and take care of your gut flora when taking medication.
Signs that indicate an imbalance in the intestinal flora:
Colon cleansing step 1: flush
Colon cleansing starts with the flush. This removes harmful residues from the colon and detoxifies the body. The intestinal mucosa and its beneficial bacteria regenerate, minimise inflammation and find rebalance. The day before the flushing, you should ideally spare your stomach in order to gradually prepare the body for the emptying process. On this day, eat easily digestible, high-fibre foods such as vegetables, rice, potatoes, fruit or natural yoghurt. Sweets, alcohol, nicotine and coffee should be completely avoided.
To flush the colon, there are a range of natural laxatives that work, including Glauber's salt and Epsom salts. The recommended dosage is 20-30 grams of Glauber's salt dissolved in half a litre of lukewarm water. Avoid drinking the solution too quickly: around 20 minutes is recommended. However, it should be noted that medical practitioners are also critical of the use of Glauber’s salt and recommend milder and more tolerable laxatives instead. The salts are particularly unsuitable for acute and chronic constipation and also for people with high blood pressure, cardiac insufficiency or kidney disease. An alternative to laxatives is the traditional enema.
For most people, the effects are felt after 2-4 hours at the latest. Any physical activity after drinking the liquid will accelerate the intestinal activity. In this case, ensure that you have access to a toilet close by. As the discharge is similar to diarrhoea, a lot of fluid is extracted from the body. It is therefore important to drink at least 3-4 litres of water during the whole process.
Colon cleansing step 2: restoring the intestinal flora
The day after the flush, the intestinal flora needs to be naturally restored. Many people use probiotics and prebiotics for this purpose. Probiotics are micro-organisms that are beneficial to health, such as lactic acid bacteria. These are what we could call «good» bacteria. Prebiotics are fibres that help these «good» bacteria multiply. Inulin, a plant substance, is one of them.
The ingredients contained in probiotics and prebiotics can be found in many food supplements sold in pharmacies at high prices in the form of capsules or powder. However, the effects of these products are disputed. According to Gesundheitstipp magazine (in german), the effectiveness of these products has never been clearly proven.
Consume probiotic and prebiotic foods
Initially, more probiotic and prebiotic foods should be consumed. In a normal case, this would be for about 1-2 weeks; however, since a full restoration of the intestinal flora depends on the individual, it’s not possible to indicate a specific period of time. The duration depends strongly on the condition of the intestinal flora. For this reason you should listen to your body and continue the treatment until you feel better.
Even when the balance of the intestinal flora is restored, it is still worth eating this type of food on a regular basis. A healthy gut makes you feel fitter and more productive and you are better protected from disease.