Some people think mucus builds up in the colon, creating a substance called mucoid plaque. These people suggest cleansings or enemas to remove it. However, many doctors doubt mucoid plaque exists and caution against unnecessary enemas.

Some natural and medical health professionals believe that mucoid plaque can build up in the colon and prevent your body from ridding itself of toxins. Treatments for this plaque are gaining popularity, but are they necessary and do they really work?

Some people believe that mucus can build up on the walls of the colon over time. Your colon is the final part of your digestive system. It’s responsible for eliminating waste from your body.

The theory behind mucoid plaque is that this sticky substance adheres to the walls of the colon. That causes a blockage and makes it more difficult for your body to remove waste.

Medical doctors deny any proof of the existence of mucoid plaque. There isn’t any evidence that the substance exists or that it causes problems with the elimination of waste.

The intestines do produce mucus for lubrication, but this mucus is important for the functioning of the intestines and doesn’t develop into a sticky plaque. The lining of the intestines is an environment for good bacteria, but this microbiome isn’t a mucoid plaque as described by those who purport its existence. The gut microbiome is important to a healthy immune system.

While there isn’t sufficient medical research to recommend treating or removing mucoid plaque, many holistic providers recommend treatment. Always check that holistic providers are licensed in your state to be sure they are applying ethical approaches within practice guidelines.

Enemas are gaining popularity for the removal of mucoid plaque because they are believed to remove toxins from the colon. During an enema, a tube is placed in your rectum, and water and possibly other substances are flushed through the colon.

But there is insufficient evidence to recommend their use for anything other than constipation or in preparation for certain medical procedures, like a colonoscopy.

There are dangers to frequent enemas including developing dependence on them to pass stool, and even perforation requiring surgery.

Other people use juice fasts and cleanses, like the Master Cleanse, to detox their bodies and cleanse the colon. Again, there is no scientific evidence to support the use of this method for the removal of mucoid plaque.

It’s important to talk to your doctor before trying any of these treatments. They can help you determine if any of these treatments are right for you.

Proponents of elective colon cleanses believe they are safe with the right provider. However, they can be risky. Cleanses can lead to dehydration and put you at risk for serious infections. They can also cause side effects, like nausea, headaches, bloating, and diarrhea.

There are several lifestyle choices you can make to help keep your colon healthy.

Stay active

An active lifestyle keeps your entire body healthy, but it may also promote colon health.

In results from a meta-analysis from 2009, researchers found that people who are very active were 24 percent less likely to develop colon cancer than the least active people in the analysis.

Another analysis found evidence that people who are more active are less likely to develop colon adenomas. Colon adenomas are polyps that develop in the colon. While they are usually benign, they can become cancerous in some cases.

Eat the rainbow

A diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in red meat is associated with a healthy colon. Here are a few tips for adopting this type of diet:

  • Limit processed meat: Eating as little as 50 grams of processed meat a day, like hotdogs bacon, or bologna, increases your risk for colorectal cancer by 18 percent.
  • Cut back on the sugar: A diet high in sugar is associated with a higher risk for colon disorders like Crohn’s disease.
  • Go for whole grains: A diet high in fiber and whole grains has been associated with a reduced risk in colorectal cancer. Dietary fiber can also help keep your bowel movements regular and prevent or reduce your risk for constipation. Instead of white bread and pasta, try quinoa, barley, or brown rice.

Get screened

The only way to see what’s going on in your colon is by visiting your doctor and getting screened for colon issues. Starting at age 50, or 45 for African-Americans, the Colon Cancer Foundation recommends being screened with a colonoscopy.

The best ways to keep your colon healthy include plenty of exercise and healthy food. Talk to your doctor about your risk for colon issues, and follow up with recommended screenings.