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Best Drinks for 48 Hours Before Colonoscopy

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    One of the most challenging parts of preparing for your colonoscopy is the bowel cleanse required before the procedure. The laxative drink you take the day before your colonoscopy typically causes you to lose a large amount of fluid and may cause you to have nausea, fatigue, and headaches due to dehydration.

    The laxative drink you take the day before your colonoscopy typically causes you to lose a large amount of fluid and may cause you to have nausea, fatigue, and headaches due to dehydration.

    You can avoid dehydration and some of the associated feelings of illness by planning ahead for your colonoscopy preparation and having hydrating drinks on hand at least two days before the colonoscopy. In addition, properly hydrating before a colonoscopy makes it easy for your nurse to place your IV before the procedure. 

    In this article, you will learn about the drinks you can and cannot drink in the days before a colonoscopy, what happens if you fail to follow the drink restrictions and you will be shown a sample hydration plan.

    Disclaimer: Your physician will give you specific directions about how to prepare for the bowel cleanse, including matching the drinks and medications you need to avoid according to your personal medical history. This article is meant to inform you about what a typical hydration plan before a colonoscopy would look like and not as a specific regimen for you to follow. These dietary directions can only be provided by the physician who is performing your colonoscopy.  

    What To Drink (and What to Avoid) Before Your Colonoscopy

    Before your colonoscopy there is no limit to how much liquid you can drink, but there are certain types of drinks you need to avoid. The day before your procedure, it is typically required that all drinks must be clear and can not contain any form of red or purple coloring (natural or artificial). However, you can drink non-clear drinks two days before your procedure unless of course they are red or purple colored. Additionally, you can ease the discomfort of the bowel cleanse by eating low-fiber foods and drinking liquids that promote healthy digestion a few days before the procedure. 

    Drink Ingredients to Avoid Before A Colonoscopy

    Ingredients you typically are asked to avoid in the several days preceding your colonoscopy include:

    • Alcohol
    • Prunes or prune juice
    • Raw or dried fruit
    • All berries, figs, dates, and raisins
    • High-fiber foods such as wheat germ
    • Any ingredients that contains seeds or nuts
    • Coconut (coconut water is acceptable but without pulp)
    • No red or purple (food dye) colored drinks

    Drinks You SHOULD Have Before A Colonoscopy

    Delicious and Health Drink Options
    Refreshing and healthy smoothies are a delicious choice for hydration for your colonoscopy preparation

    Here is a list of liquid options for you to choose from in the days before your colonoscopy:

    Digestive Tea:

    Drinking herbal teas before your colonoscopy and during the bowel cleanse can help ease stress, reduce nausea, and improve digestion. You can add sweetener such as honey to your tea to help improve the taste. Just be sure the liquid is clear and you can see through it if you are drinking these teas the day of your bowel cleanse.

    Drinking herbal teas before your colonoscopy and during the bowel cleanse can help ease stress, reduce nausea, and improve digestion. You can add sweetener such as honey to your tea to help improve the taste.

    The following is a short list of teas you can drink. Always be sure to consult with your physician about any herbal tea you are planning to drink to be sure it is safe and does not interact with any medications you are currently taking. Popular choices include:

    • Green tea
    • Peppermint tea 
    • Ginger tea’
    • Fennel tea
    • Chamomile tea

    Smoothies

    Nutritious smoothies are an excellent way to pack in protein, vitamins, and calories into your diet. When you are preparing or ordering a smoothie, there are certain ingredients you need to avoid. The ingredients you typically need to avoid include:

    • Nuts or seeds
    • Added herbal or vitamin supplements
    • High-fiber ingredients like wheat germ
    • Berries like raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries
    • No red or purple fruits, vegetables, or added colors
    • Raw vegetables

    Broths

    Broths are an excellent way to stay hydrated and can be a viable source of protein. Popular options include: 

    • Chicken broth
    • Vegetable broth
    • Beef consommé (clear)
    • Chicken or beef bouillon

    Beverages

    Hydrating drinks are an essential part of any pre-colonoscopy plan. The following clear liquids are typically approved: 

    • Coconut water
    • Flavored/sparkling waters
    • Clear fruit-flavored protein drinks (not red or purple)
    • Root beer 
    • Ginger ale
    • Clear soda
    • Electrolyte sports drinks (no red or purple)
    • Coffee or tea (no creamer or dairy)
    • Clear fruit juice (no prune, red, or purple)
    • Powder drink mixes

    Sweet Treats

    Just because you have a colonoscopy scheduled, doesn’t mean you have to skip out on sweets altogether. Here are some sweet beverage and dessert options that are typically acceptable: 

    • Ice pops
    • Italian ice
    • Banana, green apple, lemon, or lime popsicles
    • Lemon-lime gelatin
    • Lemon, lime, green apple hard candies
    • Fruit-flavored gelatin

    What Happens If You Drink Not Recommended Foods or Liquids Before Your Colonoscopy

    It is important that you stay well-hydrated before and after your colonoscopy. You do not want to become nauseated or dehydrated during the preparation and the colonoscopy itself as a result of dehydration. 

    Despite that, however, you still need to practice prudence when choosing what to drink and carefully read the ingredients to make sure they do not contain anything you need to avoid. Doing so insures a smooth bowel cleanse and allows your physician a clear visualization of your rectum and colon. The two most common mistakes people make in choosing liquids are: 

    • Red or Purple Drinks: One of the most important ingredients to avoid is anything that is red or purple. The color can stain the colon or make it appear that there is small amounts of blood in the lining. Both disturb the visualization of your colon and can cause inaccurate results in the examination. 
    • High Fiber Drinks and Foods: Another issue that can complicate the bowel preparation and your colonoscopy is if you consume high-fiber foods. These foods leave residual fibers that are difficult to digest and can make the bowel cleanse more uncomfortable. Also, any fibers left behind can blur the visualization of the colon lining and even clog the colonoscope itself. 

    Drinking foods or liquids that are not recommended before your colonoscopy can have the following consequences:

    • Increases difficulty and level of complexity of colonoscopy
    • Extends time of the  procedure
    • Inhibits the ability of your gastroenterologist to visualize the colon
    • Patients will need to repeat procedure 
    • Shortens the interval time between the next screening colonoscopy 
    • Reduces the ability of gastroenterologist to identify polyps and abnormal

    Sample Hydration Plan Before Your Colonoscopy

    48 hours before

    Overall: You should avoid all clear liquids that are red or purple colored and alcohol. Red and purple dye interferes with your colonoscopy results because the color can mask the lining and disguise abnormal tissue growths. 

    In the morning:

    • Fresh green juice – 1/2 cucumber, 2 ribs celery, 1/2 small head of romaine lettuce, 1 small green apple
    • Water with lime or peppermint leaves (strained)

    Mid-day:

    • Coconut water (clear and no pulp)
    • Electrolyte drinks (like Gatorade™ or Pedialyte™)

    Afternoon:

    • Green tea with honey
    • Iced herbal tea ( not red or purple)

    Evening:

    • Herbal teas (as approved by your physician)
    • Nourishing broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)

    One Day before

    Overall: One day before your colonoscopy you will be asked to stop eating all solid foods and be on a clear-liquid diet.The definition of a clear liquid is one that you can see through with no pulp or solids present. For instance, if your liquid is in a bowl or glass and you can see right through the substance then it is considered a clear liquid. The liquid can be clear, yellow, green, orange, or blue. A sign that you are well-hydrated is light yellow colored urine and the liquid you take in seems to almost equal what leaves (in the form of urine).

    Drink these throughout the day to stay hydrated:

    • Water with lime or peppermint leaves (strained)
    • Herbal teas (as approved by your physician)
    • Nourishing clear broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
    • Clear fruit-flavored protein drinks (not red or purple)
    • Clear fruit juice (no prune, red, or purple)
    • Ice pops
    • Italian ice

    References

    Danahy, A. (2019, July 09). The definition of a clear liquid diet for a colonoscopy. Retrieved from Livestrong: https://www.livestrong.com/article/275954-the-definition-of-a-clear-liquid-diet-for-colonoscopy/

    Harvard Health Writing Staff. (2020, August 31). Preparing for a colonoscopy: Diet, tips, and instructions for a smooth colonoscopy prep. Retrieved from Harvard Health Publishing: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/preparing-for-a-colonoscopy

    Kahi, C. J., et., al. (2016, March). Colonoscopy surveillance after colorectal cancer resection: recommendations of the US multi-society task force on colorectal cancer. Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, 83(3), 489-498.e10. Retrieved from Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0016510716000468

    Lahey Health. (2019, April 01). Low-fiber diet for colonoscopy. Retrieved from Beth Israel Layel Health: https://www.lahey.org/article/low-fiber-diet-for-colonoscopy/

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