Resolve to Never Put These Things in Your Bowels

Let's face it -- there are some things that you just shouldn't put in your colon. We already know that eating processed and fast foods is not beneficial to our health, but now there is a new concern. People are consuming non-food items -- for varying reasons -- that can actually harm the resilient tissues of the gastrointestinal tract. Take note that you will not see chewing gum on this list. Although it is not meant to be swallowed and digested, there is actually little to no scientific evidence stating that swallowing chewing gum can cause harm, unless you are an infant or toddler of course.

Just Because It's Pretty Doesn't Mean You Should Eat It

The newest rage seems to focus around making your bowel movements look like a sparkling holiday centerpiece. No more boring bowel movements for you -- at the average bargain of $10 for a dozen, people are actually selling -- and buying -- glitter filled capsules to help make your poop look fabulous. The premise is that you swallow the capsule and have sparkling, glitter-filled bowel movements. The glitter is, of course, undigestible, so it will come out of your body as prettily as it went in. If you've not come across the posts yet on social media sites such as Pinterest or Etsy, you probably will soon. It isn't a joke, but it is frightening.

There is even a site where you can buy gold leaf filled capsules to brighten your bowel movements. Gold, although pretty, is a metal. You probably don't need a scientific study to show you that putting metal in your colon is not a healthy choice.

Since your body cannot digest the gold leaves, the crushed yellow particles come back out, completely undigested, to decorate your feces. The potential side effects of filling your colon with glitter and gold could range from a simple hemorrhoid irritation to a complete bowel obstruction. Relegate the shiny, pretty objects to the front foyer and flush your stool like the rest of us.


Don't Swallow the Chew

Preferably, don't use any form of tobacco at all, as chew, or dip as some call it, is a known carcinogen. Carcinogens are substances known to increase your risk of developing cancer over time. Some people mistakenly believe that chewing tobacco is less harmful than smoking, but the chemicals are absorbed by the oral mucosa and are systemically circulated in your bloodstream. In some cultures, it is acceptable to not only frequently use chewing tobacco, but to also swallow the juices created by chewing or sucking on the crushed leaves. Swallowing these juices mainlines the carcinogens into your digestive tract, where they can cause digestive upset such as nausea and diarrhea. Although it is not yet associated with colon cancer, smokeless tobacco can increase your risk for many other cancers to include:

According to the American Cancer Society, over 9 million people use smokeless tobacco in America. Whether you spit out the juices or swallow them, they will still increase your cancer risk.

If It's Not Food, Don't Eat It

You may or may not have seen the new reality television shows that highlight people with a serious eating disorder called pica. Most commonly affecting children and pregnant women, pica can be a sign of illness or just an affliction, and is characterized by craving -- and eating -- non food items. Some of the most commonly craved items include:

  • Dirt
  • Ice
  • Paint
  • Sand
  • Glue
  • Tooth paste
  • Feces (mostly animal)

The potential complications of consistently ingested non-food items are endless. Five of the most serious complications of pica include:

If yourself or a loved one are craving and eating non food substances on a regular basis, seek medical advice. Even consistently eating harmless items, such as ice, can herald an underlying problem. There is a significant relationship between anemia and the craving of ice chips. Likewise, many people with pica can have underlying malnutrition, iron or zinc deficiencies.


American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Smokeless Tobacco. Accessed online December 30, 2014.

Kids Health. (n.d.). Pica. Accessed online December 30, 2014.

Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services Risk Management Protocols. (April 2011). Pica. Accessed online December 29, 2014.

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