Why Can't You Eat Nuts Before a Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a medical procedure that allows a doctor to view the inside of your colon, or large intestine. The doctor screens for signs of colon cancer and identifies and removes colon polyps, which are small growths. The doctor's office will provide you with a list of instructions to prepare for the procedure; one instruction is to not eat nuts.

A bowl of almonds on a wooden table. (Image: GooDween123/iStock/Getty Images)

Identification

During a colonoscopy, a doctor uses an endoscope, a special medical instrument with a light, to view the inside of your colon. You are sedated during the procedure, which lasts about 30 minutes. The endoscope streams the video to a monitor for the doctor to view. If the doctor finds a polyp, she can take a biopsy with the endoscope and send the tissue to pathology to test for malignancies. For the doctor to clearly see polyps or other abnormalities, your colon must be clean.

Preparation

The doctor's office will provide you with preparation instructions for your colonoscopy. You will have to drink a clear liquid diet the day before the procedure and take laxatives the night before. These steps help clean out your colon. Along with the liquid diet, the doctor provides you with a list of foods you shouldn't eat and medications you shouldn't take before the procedure. Nuts and seeds are on this list.

Nuts

Your doctor will instruct you to not eat nuts before your colonoscopy. The time frame varies among doctors, but usually they request you don't eat nuts for five to seven days before the procedure. The colon is like an accordion; it has many folds and crevices. Nuts and seeds become caught in these folds and are not properly digested. The endoscope can suck up the nuts, which clogs the instrument and may even damage it. For a successful colonoscopy, you want your colon as clean as possible so the doctor can easily detect any polyps. Not eating nuts before your procedure is one simple way to help the doctor obtain a clear view of your colon.

Considerations

According to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, an individual has a 6 percent chance of developing colon cancer in his lifetime. The American Cancer Society recommends that you get your first colonoscopy at age 50; if the results are normal, you should have one every 10 years thereafter. If you are at an increased risk for colon cancer, such as having a strong family history, you should talk to a doctor, as he will likely suggest you get your first colonoscopy before age 50.

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