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The colon or large intestine is a vital part of the digestive tract that needs periodic screenings in older adults. A colonoscopy is a procedure that is carried out to detect any abnormalities in the colon, such as colorectal cancer or polyps that may develop into cancer.
Before a person has a colonoscopy, they will need to follow a restricted diet so that their colon is empty. It is also not recommended to eat anything for the first few hours following a colonoscopy, and people should also follow the doctor’s instructions on what they can eat for the next few days.
It is important that a person eats food that will give the digestive system time to start working normally again.
To ease the digestive tract back into working order and help avoid irritating the digestive system, doctors recommend that people eat soft, easy to digest foods following a colonoscopy.
One priority after a colonoscopy is to rehydrate. People can do this by drinking water or other beverages and by eating liquid-based foods, such as soup or applesauce.
After a colonoscopy, a doctor will likely recommend the following:
Water is essential to help people rehydrate. Some people may find they need more liquid than usual following a colonoscopy.
2. Drinks with electrolytes
It is important to replace electrolytes when dehydrated. To help restore electrolytes, people may prefer to have a sports drink. Many sports drinks contain electrolytes.
3. Vegetable or fruit juice
There is a wide range of vegetable, fruit, and combination drinks that people can choose from. These juices also contain electrolytes and additional nutrients.
4. Herbal tea
Herbal tea often contains ingredients that can soothe the digestive tract.
Popsicles contain plenty of sugar and liquid. Both are important after a colonoscopy to help increase energy levels.
Saltines and graham crackers are easy to digest. Both are good choices following a colonoscopy.
7. Smooth nut butter
Nut butters are usually easy to digest. People should avoid chunky styles and choose the smooth varieties.
8. Mashed potatoes
Mashed potato is a soft food that is a good food option following a colonoscopy.
9. White fish
White fish is typically soft, which makes it a good choice after a colonoscopy. It is best to avoid bony or fatty fish.
Applesauce contains fiber that is easily digestible and will not irritate the digestive tract. It also contains sugars and carbohydrates that will help to restore energy levels. Applesauce also contains pectin, which can help prevent diarrhea.
Chicken and other mild soups are a good choice. People should avoid spicy soups or soups containing barley.
12. Gelatin or pudding
Both gelatin and pudding are recommended foods following a colonoscopy.
13. Scrambled eggs
Scrambled eggs are soft as well as being a good source of protein. People should avoid adding milk, pepper, or cheese to the eggs to avoid irritating the digestive tract.
14. Canned or jarred fruit
Canned fruit, such as peaches or pineapple, are good soft foods. Canned or jarred fruit is often peeled, which is ideal as people should avoid fruit skin.
15. White toast or bread
Similar to crackers, white bread is a very bland food that is good to consume for a few days following a colonoscopy.
16. Cooked vegetables
Well-steamed, baked, or sauteed vegetables that are cooked until tender are a good choice following a colonoscopy.
Although a colonoscopy procedure does not take very long, the colon needs time to recover from the procedure itself and the preparation for it.
So, for a day or so following a colonoscopy, it is advisable to avoid foods that are hard to digest, such as high fiber and spicy foods.
It is also a good idea to avoid heavy, fatty foods as they can cause nausea and vomiting after anesthesia.
If another procedure, such as the removal of a polyp, has also taken place, a doctor may recommend further food restrictions. These include foods containing small seeds, kernels, and nuts as these small, hard particles can get trapped in the healing wound and cause infection.
During a colonoscopy, gas is blown into the colon to open it up and allow better visibility during the colonoscopy. After the 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 carbonated beverages.
Avoid the following after a colonoscopy:
- spicy or well-seasoned foods
- whole or chopped nuts
- fried foods, such as chicken fingers and french fries
- raw or undercooked vegetables
- brown rice
- crunchy nut butters
- whole grain bread and baked products
- tough proteins, such as steak
- fruit with skin, such as apples
The colon is an essential part of the digestive tract. People from age 50 should have colonoscopies about every 10 years to ensure they do not have any problems. Some people may require additional screenings.
It is important that a person takes good care of their colon health between screenings. Colon cancer is rarely hereditary, and in many instances, a person can prevent it by:
- making healthful lifestyle choices
- keeping a low BMI score
- eating healthful foods
People should avoid foods that contain:
- high saturated fat
- large amounts of sugar
- red meats
- processed meats
People should make healthy lifestyle choices instead. Smoking tobacco and drinking too much alcohol can contribute to colon cancer.
Exercise is an important part of overall health and can have a significant impact on reducing the risk of colon cancer.
People should also eat a diet rich in:
- whole grains
- fruits and vegetables
- lean proteins
- low-fat milk-based products
A colonoscopy is a common, short, and mostly safe form of screening. It should be carried out regularly for all people over the age of 50. It is important to remember both preparation and recovery can take time, although the procedure itself does not take long.
It is essential to follow a doctor’s recommendations after a colonoscopy. Potential discomfort and pain following the procedure can be avoided by eating recommended foods.
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