top of page

Biogenic food and intestinal washing gain followers for weight loss; see risks

Procedures have health benefits, but should not be used as an alternative to losing weight. Doctors warn about the dangers of very restrictive diets.

HEALTH | By Úrsula Neves, from Agência Einstein

From time to time, new “fevers” emerge that promise weight loss fast and naturally. Two of these practices — biogenic eating and the use of enemas (intestinal lavage) — may indeed have health benefits in some cases, but doctors warn that they should not be used as alternatives for weight loss.

The basis of biogenic nutrition is made up of foods that “generate life” and are consumed fresh. It includes grains, cereals, raw legumes, herbs, and sprouted or sprouted vegetables. This approach is due to the fact that, during the germination process, these foods are full of substances and nutrients, as they are in full growth. However, when they are cooked or undergo another type of preparation, this nutritional capacity is lost.

An enema is a wash of the intestine using a solution via a rectal probe, which is generally used to eliminate toxins or waste. However, the introduction of coffee through the anus — a controversial practice publicized on social media — has no scientific proof and can still cause serious health problems.

Check out the benefits, precautions, and main health risks of each of these habits below.

Biogenic food

Biogenic food has been used for many, many years, since when people did not have processed and industrialized foods available for consumption.

It is based on two main rules: the consumption of germinated (live) foods and the use of live energy, coming from vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes. These are so-called “living foods”, which must be 100% natural, organic, raw, and in their purest form. However, this highly restrictive diet presents risks and requires some caution to preserve health. One of these precautions is the inclusion of the consumption of proteins and their respective vitamins. Furthermore, it is essential to stay well hydrated, as this is a low-calorie diet, which can promote dehydration.

“Avoiding processed foods and favoring natural and organic foods is very healthy, but this must be done under the supervision of a healthcare professional, to avoid nutritional deficiencies”, warns Dr. Andrea Pereira, Clinical Nutrition Support Physician.

The benefits of biogenic eating include the intake of more nutritious foods free of chemical residues, which contributes to health, increasing energy levels, improving digestion, and strengthening the immune system. Weight loss, after all, would be a bonus. Provided, of course, that it is combined with regular physical activity. Another important point, explains the doctor, is that this type of diet should not be seen as a diet, but rather as an approach in which the individual seeks to ingest natural, organic options in their most natural form possible.

“As there is no scientific evidence for this specific type of diet, the use of biogenic food must be followed with correct and individualized medical monitoring. It is important to clarify that any restrictive diet can lead to loss of muscle mass or nutritional deficiencies if it is not well balanced by a nutrition professional”, points out Dr. Pereira.

Enema should not be used for weight loss

Another practice that has gained ground among those who want to eliminate a few extra pounds is the enema, intestinal wash, or “chuca”, as it is popularly known. This technique consists of washing the rectum with the instillation of the liquid analyzed.

It is not difficult to find posts on social media of people advocating and even performing the procedure several times a day, without medical indication or supervision. However, there is no scientific proof of the use of enemas as an aid to weight loss.

“It is true that in people with a cold, in whom there is also a feeling of abdominal distension, the enema causes evacuation and elimination of gases, giving the impression of ‘deflating’ the abdomen. However, the procedure has no role in weight loss”, explains proctologist Marleny Novaes Figueiredo de Araújo, who is a full member of the SBCP (Brazilian Society of Coloproctology) and works on the coloproctology team at the Hospital Municipal da Vila Santa Catarina and Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein.

The main indication for enemas is for patients with hard stools, difficulty evacuating, severe chronic constipation, and anal incontinence (when individuals cannot control the exit of feces).

Another indication is for preparing exams such as rectoscopy, aiming to clean the intestine so that it can be properly visualized. There are enemas with medications that may be necessary for some illnesses, such as ulcerative colitis, which is an inflammatory bowel disease.

“The enema does not require medical supervision to be performed. Doctors, nurses, and other health professionals can advise the patient on how to perform it at home, but only when indicated. The main recommendation is to lubricate the anus before introducing the enema kit and be careful during the introduction, so as not to injure or injure the rectum”, explains the proctologist.

However, Marleny Araújo states that there is a risk of perforation of the rectum and that, when the liquid is introduced, there may be a burning sensation and the urge to have a bowel movement.

“These symptoms are expected and pass within a few minutes, right after the evacuation caused by the enema takes place. In the case of drug enemas, the objective is for the liquid to remain in the rectum for longer”, he explains.

The dangers of coffee enemas

The practice of coffee enema — when the drink is inserted through the anus to clean the rectum and large intestine — is also gaining more and more followers in several countries, including Brazil.

“Caffeine ends up being absorbed by the rectum, even if in smaller quantities than when drinking coffee, and this can have consequences, especially when done several times a day. The risks range from changes such as tachycardia (racing heart), arrhythmias, nausea, and even malaise. Doing this at home is even more risky, due to the dose of caffeine that may be in the enema. There are still the same risks of any enema, such as sores in the rectum and inflammation”, warns the proctologist.

The doctor also clarifies that, even when performed with just water, enemas can harm the functioning of the intestine in the long term, as they can create a dependency, leading the person to stop eating and evacuating naturally. “No enema should be performed frequently without an indication for it”, he concludes.


bottom of page