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Colonoscopy Prep Diet: Dos and Don’ts

Colonoscopy Prep Diet

Everyone will need to start getting routine colonoscopies at some point. Most people will need at least 3 or 4 in their lifetime. But for the procedure to be successful, proper preparation is critical. If your colon isn’t completely clean and clear, your gastroenterologist will have difficulty thoroughly examining it for polyps and cancerous growths.

In the days leading up to your appointment, you’ll be prescribed a specific colonoscopy prep diet and a bowel prep solution to drink. Here are the dos and don’ts when it comes to preparing for your colonoscopy.

The Importance of the Colonoscopy Prep Diet

A squeaky-clean colon is necessary for a successful colonoscopy, as it lets your doctor see the colon’s lining clearly. The colonoscopy prep diet helps cleanse your colon by eliminating solid waste and residue. Follow these dos and don’ts to set yourself up for the best results.

Colonoscopy Prep Dos:

  1. Follow your doctor’s instructions closely: Your doctor will provide specific instructions for your colonoscopy preparation. Be sure to read them thoroughly and ask lots of questions to ensure you fully understand the process. Refer to the instructions regularly during your preparation period.
  2. Start a low-fiber diet a few days before the procedure: A low-fiber diet reduces the amount of solid waste in your colon. It is typically recommended to begin this diet 3-4 days before your colonoscopy. When you start with less waste in your colon, the rest of the preparation will be easier. Foods to include in a low-fiber diet are white bread, pasta, and rice, lean meats like chicken and fish, eggs, and well-cooked vegetables without skin or seeds.
  3. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water and clear liquids is essential during colonoscopy preparation because it helps to flush out waste and prevents dehydration. Clear liquids include water, clear broth, apple or white grape juice, tea, and black coffee without cream or milk. You can also have sports drinks, sodas, and gelatin, but avoid any red or purple varieties, as they can interfere with the procedure.
  4. Take prescribed laxatives or bowel prep solutions: Your gastroenterologist will prescribe a bowel prep solution or laxatives to cleanse your colon. Make sure to follow the provided instructions regarding the timing and dosage of these medications so they can effectively clear out your colon.

Colonoscopy Prep Don’ts:

  1. Don’t consume high-fiber foods: High-fiber foods can slow down digestion and leave residue in your colon, making it difficult for the gastroenterologist to see the lining clearly. Avoid foods such as whole grains, seeds, nuts, raw fruits, and vegetables.
  2. Don’t eat solid foods the day before the procedure: On the day before your colonoscopy, stick to clear liquids only. This will help to ensure that your colon is free of solid waste.
  3. Don’t consume alcohol: It’s essential to avoid alcohol in the days leading up to your colonoscopy, as it can cause dehydration and interfere with the bowel preparation process.
  4. Don’t take iron supplements: Iron supplements can darken your stool, making it difficult for the gastroenterologist to examine your colon. Discontinue taking iron supplements a week before the procedure. If you are on medically prescribed iron supplements, it’s important to consult your doctor before stopping the medication.
  5. Don’t drink anything 3 hours before your appointment: Because colonoscopies are usually done with general anesthesia, your stomach must be completely empty. Drinking water or any other liquids within three hours of anesthesia can lead to an increased risk of complications.
  6. Don’t chew gum or tobacco within three hours of your appointment: Similar to drinking liquids before your appointment, chewing gum or tobacco can increase stomach contents and make the risk of complications higher.
  7. Don’t use nicotine within 24 hours of your appointment: Nicotine in the bloodstream from chewing, smoking, or vaping can increase your risk of anesthetic complications. Avoiding nicotine-containing products for the 24 hours before your appointment will help keep you safer.

Prepare for a Successful Colonoscopy

When you prepare for a successful colonoscopy by following these dos and don’ts, you make a positive step for your future health. A clean colon will allow your doctor to find and remove any polyps, preventing colon cancer. And if you have any suspicious spots, your doctor can take biopsies to make sure you don’t have colon cancer or find it early if you do.

If you are age 45 or are due for your next colonoscopy, don’t delay and schedule your appointment today!


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