There are few worldwide health trends where opinions can vary so greatly as there are with colon cleansing. It’s a trend which clearly has people polarized around the world and it’s easy to understand why. It is however, interesting to observe that although the practice of colon cleansing, or enemas, isn’t mainstream in the US it is much more common in Western Europe. Does that mean that one country has it wrong and is there any evidence that it really works anyway?
Two European countries that really stand out for their acceptance and regular practice of cleansing are Italy and France. Both of these countries have some of the lowest obesity levels in Europe and have long been considered as healthy, skinny and clean living nations. So is it possible that there’s a link between colon cleansing and these trends?
Does Colon Cleansing Really Keep Italians Healthier?
Italians are the envy of many countries around the world, they have great culture, lifestyle and of course food. But it’s the latter that many would think is the downfall of a country like this.
Cleansing practices in Italy:
Interestingly in Italy it’s fairly common for adults to regularly cleanse their insides, or as they say there pulizia intestinale (cleaning the intestines). It’s believed that Italians are more open to non-conventional health techniques and this makes them one of the world’s leading markets for colonic irrigation and enema related products.
The Mediterranean Diet:
The Mediterranean diet has long been a source of the nations health. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables, grains, nuts and olive oil are seen as essential reasons why Italians have an edge in the health stakes. Their traditional diet is by default lower in salt and they consume lower levels of red mean than many countries in the world.
Portion Control & Moderation:
National dishes like pizza and pasta are hardly slimming, yet Italians have one of the lowest levels obesity levels in the region and have long been considered one some of the slimmest people in Europe. But it’s all about moderation. These may be national dishes but the secret is that people eat them irregularly and in smaller portions.
French Habits Towards Colon Cleansing
Much like Italians, the French have a reputation for being passionate about their food. France is famous for it’s culture, flair, diversity and above all it’s cuisine. So how do the French remain the envy of the world with their slim and stylish figures?
Attitude to Enemas – C’est la vie?
Maybe not quite, though it is a widely practiced health trend in the land of Baguettes. In the 17th century French King Louis XIV helped to establish the practice in France and it’s stuck since. In France they call it le nettoyage du colon (colon cleansing) and the practice is popular via self administered methods at home and professionally.
Passion for Food:
The French nation’s passion for food is evident everywhere you go, and this is one of the main reasons why the country stays so healthy. People are passionate about good food, quality ingredients and cooking well. Fast and nasty takeaways have traditionally had less of a place in France vs the rest of the world and people there enjoy the process of cooking.
Although the French have a world of delicious food at their doorstep, over indulgence is not a common trait. Drinking and eating and the all good things in moderation approach is alive an well in France.
The United States Stance on Cleansing
The states on the other hand have a more skeptical view on the topic and this is supported by a lot of negative articles that throw doubt onto the practice. Its easy to stand by that approach too. After all there aren’t lines of doctors wanting to back the health benefits of intestinal cleansing, many actually argue it’s unnecessary and potentially damaging too.
Health Trends in the States:
When comparing Western European countries to the US, portion size is the key factor that needs to brought into the spotlight. An average restaurant dinner serving in the US can be between 1.5 – 2 times larger than in Italy. Sodas and potato crisp sizes are all much larger in the states and this is clearly one of the main differentiating factors at play when making health comparisons between nations.
So What’s the Conclusion – Are French & Italians Healthy Because of Intestinal cleansing?
So we’ve looked at some countries where it’s popular to understand whether it’s working or not. Some would argue that it is, others could say it’s a weak link. The causal link between countries where colon cleansing is popular and lower obesity rates and lower rates of colon cancer are non evident. It would be remiss to suggest that this is a cause for lower figures as there are hundreds of other variables in the mix. What it does tell us is that countries like Italy and France are societies that are more open to alternative treatments (enemas and cleansing pills without being medically substantiated definitely fall into that category).
So is there an answer on legitimacy? No. However you can see that what works for some people doesn’t always work for others. History and habits go a long way towards influencing our thoughts and opinions on matters like this. The seeds were sewn in the 17th century for the French, whereas in other countries it’s still very much an alternative treatment.
I am not someone that will stick my neck out and recommend the practice, but I won’t rule out the benefits either. If it’s something that people think improves their health and well-being, then it probably will.