colon bacteriaI know people who swear by coffee enemas for detoxing. I know others who think colonics are the way to solve constipation (they are wrong). And if you were to go for a colonoscopy, you would be expected to take a powerful laxative and possibly an enema.

Have you ever wondered what happens to your gut bacteria levels when you flush the colon with any of these methods?

It should come as no surprise that when you quickly cleanse the colon for any reason, you lose significant amount of gut bacteria. According to a 2014 study from the University of Helsinki, any type of powerful cleansing of the colon results in a 31-fold decrease in gut bacteria. That is the bad news.

The good news is that most people in the study recovered within a month, which means that their gut bacteria re-established itself back to it original level. However, it must be noted that the participants were all healthy.

Why is this significant? Colon gut bacteria exists in two ways. Some are attached and embed into the intestinal wall lining. Many more are milling about in the empty space of the colon. Colon bacteria does not need to embed in the lining in order to re-produce.  So when any type of strong cleansing technique is used like a laxative or enema, to flush out the colon – it is the gut bacteria that is floating around that is flushed – not the gut bacteria that is embedded in the lining. Because of this, the embedded gut bacteria are safe and sound and therefore, are able to help re-establish the whole colony back to it’s normal levels.

But what if the intestinal wall lining is not so healthy? If there is damage or insufficient gut bacteria in the first place, then re-storing of the gut flora will take much longer and this could be very problematic for those already suffering from dysbiosis.

It is for this reason, that one should think very carefully before engaging in these practices. And if you have to do this, because, for example you are having colonoscopy, then you need to fortify before and after to help you recover faster.

A month is quite a long time to be vulnerable with too little gut bacteria.

So What Can You Do?

  • Take high dose probiotics (50-100 billion) – high in bifidobacterium, which is the main family of bacteria for the colon. Start two weeks before and continue for a month after or until you feel back to “normal”
  • Consume plenty of prebiotic foods or take prebiotics supplements if you must, to help build up your residential bacteria
  • Glutamine and Butyrate can be helpful to protect the gut lining making it a better home for bacteria to embed