Preparing for your colonoscopy is something to take seriously and usually begins a few days before your scheduled procedure. You may be required to restrict certain foods in your diet at least 48 hours before a colonoscopy. The goal is to empty your colon so that detection of any abnormalities is successful. It's crucial to follow the preparation instructions that your physician provides, especially because instructions may vary slightly based on your unique circumstances.
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To prepare your bowels, you will need to eat a low-fiber diet a few days before your colonoscopy. The day before the procedure, you shouldn't eat any solid foods, but you may drink clear liquids and broths.
Purpose of Colonoscopy
A colonoscopy is an exam performed to detect changes or abnormalities in the large intestine and rectum. Inadequate preparation of the colon can hamper adenoma detection during a colonoscopy. Your colon is a part of your digestive system that absorbs water, salt and nutrients from the stool and passes waste material along to the rectum. The most common reason physicians recommend a colonoscopy is to detect changes or growths, such as polyps, in the large intestine and rectum.
The majority of polyps pose no harm, but a small chance exists that certain polyps may become cancerous over a period of several years. Early detection and treatment is key to increasing your chances for recovery if you develop colorectal cancer.
Dietary Restrictions Before Colonoscopy
Emptying the contents of your colon is an important requirement for a successful colonoscopy To make sure you have a clean colon, certain foods need to be restricted two days before a colonoscopy.
Texas A&M Health Science Center advises you to refrain from eating beans, peas, corn, nuts, popcorn, okra or tomatoes, two to three days prior to the colonoscopy. The seeds from these foods can stick to your intestinal walls and prevent you from having a clean colon during your procedure.
Boston Medical Center advises its patients that whole grains, seeds of any type, and green vegetables should be included in foods to avoid before a colonoscopy procedure. You're allowed to eat anything that's not on the restricted list that your doctor provides.
Read More: 19 High-Fiber Foods — Some May Surprise You!
Increase Your Water Intake
It is crucial to make sure to drink enough water in preparation for your colonoscopy to help wash food through your system. You need to drink at least 8 glasses of water each day, starting two days before colonoscopy procedures, according to Boston Medical Center. Extra fluid is beneficial — even an additional 8 to 16 ounces can help you before, during and after your bowel prep, as well as after your colonoscopy.
The Day Before
The day before your procedure you can expect to follow a liquid diet consisting of clear, sugar-free liquids that are not red or purple. Some examples include bouillon, coffee without milk or non-dairy cream, and sugar-free soft drinks. You should not eat or drink anything after midnight before your appointment.
Read more: List of Foods in the Liquid Diet
Discontinue Your Medications
Your doctor may advise that you stop taking certain medication or supplements such as iron, aspirin and the blood-thinner warfarin up to six days before the procedure. Avoid stopping any medication without first confirming it with your gastroenterologist and primary-care physician.
- Texas A&M Health Science Center: "Colonoscopy Miralax Prep"
- Boston Medical Center: "Preparing for Your Colonoscopy"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Preparing for a Colonoscopy"
- Gastroenterology: :Optimizing Adequacy of Bowel Cleansing for Colonoscopy: Recommendations From the US Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer"