The colon or large intestine is a vital part of the digestive system and needs regular checks in the elderly. Colonoscopy is a procedure performed to detect any abnormalities in the colon, such as colon and rectal cancer or polyps that may develop into cancer.
Colonoscopy is one of the simple procedures that the doctor can perform in the clinic or hospital. This procedure does not have any serious complications and does not cause any damage.
Preparing for a colonoscopy
Diet is an integral part of preparing for a colonoscopy, and in order to prepare for a colonoscopy, you must do three basic things:
- Adjusting drug treatments if required and adopting other treatment measures as recommended by the doctor.
- Eat a low-fiber diet.
- The most prickly laxative.
These measures are fundamental and very important, for the following reasons:
- These procedures allow the intestine to be cleaned well, and this is an essential aspect of the success of the scan.
- It reduces any discomfort a patient might feel during the colonoscopy.
- Reducing the risk of complications.
If the patient does not follow the instructions provided by the medical center about the correct preparation method for the colonoscopy, this procedure may need to be repeated. Indeed, if the intestinal walls are not sufficiently clear of stool residue, the doctor may decide to stop the examination and postpone the colonoscopy.
Each medical center relies on its own protocol, which can be sensitive to some special aspects, for example allergies, diabetes, pregnancy, diseases such as enteritis, the use of certain medications such as Coumadin or clopidogrel and antibiotics.
Therefore, in light of these considerations, you should always and in all cases rely on the guidance provided by the medical center, even when these guidelines contradict the concepts mentioned in this article.
What foods are allowed before colonoscopy
Diet is an integral part of any colonoscopy preparation. The ultimate goal of this is to completely clean the walls of the intestine of stool residue, which can remain despite taking laxatives.
The presence of stool residue can cause:
- Hide small polyps or other formations.
- They make it difficult to monitor the intestinal mucosa.
- The patient’s discomfort increases during the endoscopy.
To obtain a correct intestinal cleansing, it is always recommended to take an oral laxative. In this regard, there are differences between the protocols adopted by the different endoscopy centers, which in the final analysis are established according to the condition of each patient (in the case of certain disorders or cases). It is therefore advisable to follow the directions provided regarding the type of laxative to use, the dosing schedule, and the methods of taking it.
It is important to follow a special diet before having a colonoscopy because some eating habits can enhance and make the laxative work more effective. Let’s explain some general rules.
7 – 5 days before the colonoscopy
- Seeded vegetables and fruits (such as grapes, kiwi, figs, strawberries, eggplant, tomatoes, etc.) should not be consumed.
- Stop taking iron-containing supplements (which stain the intestinal walls black and may cause constipation).
Please note that most medical centers specify these restrictions only 3 days prior to the colonoscopy.
3 – 2 days before colonoscopy
- You should drink at least 2 liters of non-carbonated water per day (some centers may recommend drinking 3 liters of water per day).
- Avoid eating large meals.
- Avoid eating any protein-rich foods, vegetables, legumes, fruits and juices with pulps and whole grains (pasta, bread, biscuits, high-fiber breakfast cereals, etc.), fatty meats, cheeses, chocolate, and alcoholic beverages.
- Avoid foods rich in dyes (such as canned foods and drinks with added colorings).
- Avoid nuts in general, including the foods that contain them (such as some cakes or sweets, peanut butter, etc.)
- Avoid foods that contain peels or seeds (such as strawberry or tomato jam).
Therefore, the diet before colonoscopy should be based primarily on animal foods: eggs, lean meat, fish, low-fat cheese, baby food with small amounts of white bread. Olive oil can be used in small quantities. Sometimes yogurt is allowed as long as it does not contain pieces of fruit and is prepared with skimmed milk only. Even potatoes can eat them, but they need to be peeled.
Remember, above all, the rule of thumb to avoid large meals.
A day and a half before the colonoscopy
It is recommended to fast or semi-fast (that is, to follow a diet based on liquid foods, while avoiding milk and dairy products, and you can drink water, tea, coffee and chamomile, but without adding sugar or honey for sweetening.
It is important to follow carefully the directions on taking the laxatives or laxatives your doctor recommends.
Two hours before the procedure
You must completely stop drinking fluids.
The presence of any stool residue in the intestine can make it difficult to notice a presence in polyps or other formations, and this increases the possibility of a misdiagnosis.
If you suffer from chronic constipation, some of the above rules do not apply to you, for example you should follow a high-fiber diet (in order to improve bowel movement and allow a complete colon cleanse).
Remember that these instructions and tips differ slightly from one medical center to another. Therefore, in case of any doubts, it is advisable to contact the medical center where the colonoscopy will be performed.
What foods are allowed after colonoscopy
After a colonoscopy, it is not advisable to eat anything during the first few hours after the colonoscopy, and people should also follow their doctor’s instructions about what they can eat for the next few days.
It is important for a person to eat food that gives the digestive system sufficient time to start working normally again.
After colonoscopy, it is advised to eat foods that are easily digestible. To help avoid gastrointestinal irritation, doctors recommend that people eat bland, easily digestible food after a colonoscopy.
One priority after a colonoscopy is hydration. People can do this by drinking water or other beverages and by eating liquid foods, such as soup or applesauce.
After your colonoscopy, your doctor will likely recommend that you take the following:
Water is essential to help people rehydrate. Some people may find they need more fluid than usual after their colonoscopy.
Vegetable or fruit juice
There is a wide variety of vegetable and fruit drinks and a range of drinks that people can choose from. These juices also contain electrolytes and additional nutrients.
Herbal teas often contain ingredients that can calm the digestive system.
Mashed potato is a soft food that is a good eating option after a colonoscopy.
Whitefish is usually easy to digest, which makes it a good choice after a colonoscopy. It is best to avoid bony or fatty fish.
Apple juice contains easily digestible fiber that will not irritate the digestive system. It also contains sugars and carbohydrates that will help restore energy levels. Apple juice also contains pectin, which can help prevent diarrhea.
Chicken soup is a good option. People should avoid hot soups or soups that contain barley.
Gelatin or candy
Both gelatin and candy are recommended after colonoscopy.
Scrambled eggs are light and also a good source of protein. People should avoid adding milk, pepper, or cheese to eggs to avoid gastrointestinal irritation.
Canned or pickled fruit
Canned fruits like peaches or pineapples are good soft foods. Canned or blended fruits are often peeled, which is ideal as colonoscopists should avoid the rind of the fruit.
Similar to biscuits, white bread is a very bland food that is good to consume for a few days after a colonoscopy.
Vegetables that are steamed, baked, or cooked well until soft are a good option after a colonoscopy.
Foods to be avoided after a colonoscopy
Although a colonoscopy does not take long, the colon needs time to recover from and prepare for the procedure itself.
Therefore, it is advisable to avoid foods that are difficult to digest, such as high fiber and spicy foods, for a day or more after a colonoscopy.
It is also a good idea to avoid heavy, greasy foods as they can cause nausea and vomiting after anesthesia.
If another procedure also occurs, such as removing a tumor, the doctor may recommend more dietary restrictions. These include foods that contain small seeds, grains and nuts, as these tiny particles can irritate the wound and cause infection.
During a colonoscopy, gas is blown into the colon to open it and allow for better vision during the colonoscopy. After this procedure, this excess gas may be uncomfortable, and a person may feel the need to pass gas more frequently.
Because of this, a person may choose to avoid foods that cause additional gas, such as beans or soft drinks.
Avoid the following after your colonoscopy:
- Spicy foods.
- Whole or chopped nuts.
- Fried foods, such as chicken and french fries.
- corn seeds.
- Raw or undercooked vegetables.
- Brown rice.
- Nut butter.
- Whole grain bread and baked products.
- Proteins are difficult to digest, like steak.
- Fruit with its peel, like an apple.
Colon health tips
The colon is an essential part of the digestive system. People from the age of 50 should have a colonoscopy every ten years to make sure they do not have problems. Some people may need additional tests.
It is important for a person to take care of the health of their colon between examination. Rarely, colon cancer is hereditary, and in many cases, a person can prevent it by:
- Adopting healthy lifestyle choices.
- Low BMI.
- Eat healthy foods.
According to the research, the following factors contribute to whether a person will develop colon cancer:
- Insulin levels are high.
- Meals high in refined sugars.
- Abdominal fat.
- Low-fiber diet.
People should avoid foods that contain:
- Saturated fat.
- Large amounts of sugar.
- Red meat.
- Processed meats.
People should choose healthy lifestyle choices instead. Smoking tobacco and drinking a lot of alcohol can contribute to colon cancer formation.
Exercise is an important part of overall health and can have a major impact on reducing the risk of colon cancer.
People should also eat meals rich in:
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Lean proteins.
- Low-fat dairy products.
Colonoscopy is a common, short, and often safe procedure. It should be done regularly for all people over the age of 50. It is important to remember that both preparation and recovery can take time, although the procedure itself does not take long.
It is essential to follow the doctor’s recommendations after a colonoscopy. Possible discomfort and pain after the procedure can be avoided by eating the recommended foods.