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How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy

April 11, 2016


Dr. Neilanjan Nandi, a Drexel Medicine gastroenterologist, reviews the basic guidelines for colonoscopy preparation and provides helpful diet tips to make your prep much more manageable.


Welcome to colonoscopy 101. If you’re like most people watching this video right now, then you’re probably stressed and frantic about what your colon prep day is going to be like. Well fret no more; we’re here to give you the answers.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand is that if you’re not careful about reading the instructions you may have a poor prep, and you may likely be cancelled. And if you’re cancelled, that means you may have to re-drink all that colonoscopy solution again. I know you don’t want that. So my friends, join me as we talk about how to get you prepped the right way.

Remember there are three easy, magic rules to prepping for your colonoscopy. The most important: no solids. Absolutely none. Two: clear, transparent liquids and three: nothing red or purple, because red and purple looks like blood in your colon and that’s the last thing we want to see in your colon.

So three easy rules to prepping, doctor. Sounds like I’m starving. Well, that’s not true. You don’t have to starve the day of your colonoscopy preparation. In fact, we don’t encourage it. Remember those three easy rules: no solid foods. But the second rule is that you can have as much as any clear, transparent liquid…as much as you want. So here are some examples. One, you can have as much apple juice as you like, you can also use ginger ale, sports drinks—remember, clear and transparent, but you can’t have anything red or purple, such as grape juice, cranberry juice, or red sports drinks. Remember, red and purple look like blood to us in the intestine. We don’t want to see that. Most people wake up in the morning with a cup of morning joe. You can still have black coffee and black tea, but remember, you cannot add any cream, milk or powdered condensed cream. That will actually ruin your prep. You can have chicken broth, vegetable broth. It comes in cans, boxes or bouillon cubes. But remember you can’t have any chicken noodle soup because all those bits and bobbles will ruin your prep. About the most solid thing you can have on any given day is gelatin, but you guessed it---nothing red or purple.

During the day of your colonoscopy, if your tongue is getting a little bored you can always go ahead and change it up by sucking on some hard candy, or going ahead and adding some flavored powdered drink mix to your favorite clear liquid or transparent beverage. That might change it up a little bit more. Remember with these tips and rules in mind, you will have an excellent colonoscopy. The cleaner your prep, your better your prep, the better job your doctor can do for you.

Drexel Gastroenterology

Drexel Gastroenterology expertly treats patients with digestive health disorders. Our regionally and nationally recognized experts work with your primary care physician to ensure the highest standard of care. Our patients have access to Drexel Medicine's Center for Digestive Health, which has been recognized for quality and safety by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and provides outpatient colonoscopies in a comfortable setting.

The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.

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