Does colon cleansing strengthen the immune system?


Colon cleansing is said to detoxify the body and restore the gut flora. This not only helps with intestinal problems, but strengthens the immune system too. But how does it actually work?

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 haven't been scientifically proven, many experts are convinced of its benefit to our well-being. Colon cleansing is said to restore the symbiosis of the intestinal bacteria and rebuild the gut flora. Alternative medicine practitioners not only recommend colon cleansing for people who are already sick, but also 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.

Indications of an imbalance in the intestinal flora:

  • diarrhoea
  • constipation
  • flatulence
  • stomach ache
  • allergies or food intolerances
  • chronic fatigue
  • irritable bowel syndrome

Causes of disturbance to our intestinal flora

Disturbance to our intestinal flora can be caused by various factors, including taking antibiotics, eating an unhealthy diet, chronic stress and infections. These factors can disrupt the delicate balance of the intestinal bacteria, leading to the need for specific treatment in the form of colon cleansing.

Why are antibiotics harmful to the intestinal flora?

Antibiotics not only kill off pathogenic bacteria, they can also damage the beneficial intestinal bacteria that the body needs. This disturbs the natural balance of the intestinal flora, which for some people can lead to digestive problems and a weakened immune system.

Effects of antibiotics on the intestines

In some cases, taking antibiotics reduces the number of healthy bacteria in the gut, leading to a condition known as dysbiosis. This impacts the body’s digestive functions and can result in symptoms like bloating, diarrhoea and a greater susceptibility to infections.

Colon cleansing: Restoring the intestinal flora

For many people, colon cleansing starts with emptying the colon. This must be done thoroughly as it provides the basis for the success of the treatment. The idea is to remove residues from the intestines and thus create optimum conditions for the gut flora to regenerate and for healthy bacteria to colonise. This improves circulation and strengthens the immune system. However, some experts also question the benefits of such a treatment.

The intestinal flora renews itself every seven days anyway. The important thing is what we eat. If we eat a plant-based diet rich in fibre, the colon automatically regenerates itself after a few days.
According to scientist and medical doctor Dr Sarah Schwitalla, a ‘crash cleansing’ is therefore of little benefit.

How long does colon cleansing take?

Colon cleansing varies in duration according to each patient’s individual situation, ranging from a few weeks to several months. It’s important that patients implement the diet and lifestyle changes consistently and take supporting supplements.

When should colon cleansing be started?

Colon cleansing should be started when symptoms such as digestive problems, flatulence or intolerances occur, especially after taking antibiotics or in the case of chronic stress.

What are probiotics and prebiotics?

Probiotics are micro-organisms that are beneficial to our 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. Experts like Dr Sarah Schwitalla emphasise: «Every plant-based food is probiotic». Indeed, the substances contained in probiotics and prebiotics are highly acclaimed and can be bought at great expense in pharmacies as supplements in the form of capsules or powder.

However, the best way to restore the intestinal flora is to eat a healthy and balanced diet.

The effects are controversial

However, the effects of these products are disputed. According to Gesund­heits­tipp magazine, the effectiveness of these products has never been clearly proven. To start with, 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.

Foods with probiotics

  • yoghurt
  • kefir
  • sauerkraut
  • miso soup
  • kombucha (fermented tea)
  • cheese
  • apple cider vinegar
  • tempeh
  • kimchi (fermented cabbage)

Foods with prebiotic

  • chicory
  • topanimbur
  • leek
  • onions
  • garlic
  • black salsify
  • artichokes
  • apples
  • bananas, mango, papaya
  • flaxseed and psyllium husks

Colon cleansing diet

Foods to opt for

  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • whole grain products
  • fermented food
    • yoghurt
    • kefir
  • probiotic foods
    • garlic, onions and leeks
    • green bananas
    • artichokes, chicory

Foods to avoid

  • processed foods and fast food
  • sugary snacks and drinks
  • alcoholic beverages
  • products containing caffeine

In summary: prioritise plant-based foods

In order to keep the colon in balance, plant-based and fibre-rich foods should feature highly in our diet. With a healthy colon, we feel fitter, have more energy and protect ourselves from diseases.

Pain-free flatulence? Flatulence is normal after changing to a high-fibre diet and indicate healthy intestinal activity. It's important to make the change gradually – your gut needs time to adjust.

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