How to have a healthy colon – for life
Have you ever just stopped for a moment to think about what your colon actually does? This is usually just a topic discussed in biology class. Once the class is over, do we ever really think about it again? We do if there is a problem with our colon, but otherwise it’s something we don’t think about or discuss on a regular basis.
We continue to eat unhealthy foods mainly out of convience. After a long day at work, the last thing most of us want to do is go home and prepare a meal for our family. Isn’t easy just to grab a pizza, chicken, or burgers? If we do go home and prepare something, it’s usually straight out of the freezer to the oven. Some frozen processed food that may be no better than the fast foods we passed on.
We all eat things that are really not good for us, I know I enjoy a good burger or pizza sometimes. We can limit the amount of fast food or processed foods we eat, but that is only part of what we need to do. What do we need to do so we are not weighed down by all this stuff we stick into our body?
Colon health can go a long way in helping keep our body working efficiently. Taking care of our colon can lead to a healthier and happy life. What I want to discuss are some basic principles about our colon such as what does the colon do, common problems with our colon, and how we can keep our colon healthy.
What does our colon do?
The colon is the lower part of our gastrointestinal (GI) tract that stretches between the small intestines and rectum. This is also known as the large intestines and can be divided into several parts, but I don’t want to bore you with a biology lesson here. For the sake of our discussion, let’s just refer to all several parts as the colon.
After material passes through the small intestines, the left overs enter the colon. This is mostly a liquid mix where the colon’s job is to pull the water and nutrients out that will be used by our body.
The process is aided by the bacteria that lives in our colon. Without these bacteria, things can get backed up very quickly and cause all kinds of problems. Once the bacteria break down what it can, then the rest simply continues down the path and will end up in the rectum and eventually discarded from our body.
What are some common problems with our colon?
As long as the colon is working properly, there will be few problems. But what are some problems that can occur in our colon?
- Hemorrhoids – these are very common and are a group of swollen veins that can cause bleeding and itching.
- Anal Fissures – this is a common problem and is a painful tear in the anus that causes bleeding.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – this can cause abdominal cramping, bloating, and changes in bowel movements such as constipation or diarrhea.
- Ulcerative colitis – ulcers that are found in the colon
- Diverticulitis – inflammation or infection in the colon
- Colorectal cancer – this is more common for those over 50 or anyone who has a family history of colon cancer
- Colonic polyps – these are growths found in the colon that can become cancerous. Just because there are growths, does not automatically mean you have cancer. There could be other reasons and your doctor may need to have additional tests done.
With all those problems what can we do to keep our colon healthy?
The best place to start when it comes to colon health is to pay more attention what we put into our bodies. If we continue to eat unhealthy processed foods in large quantities, then it is a matter of time before we have problems. We all enjoy certain foods that may not be good for us, but if we can limit the amount we eat, that will be a big first step in helping our colon stay healthy.
When we eat high fiber foods, this is an easy way to promote colon health. The fiber will help keep the waste moving through our colon to the rectum, from there it will be discarded from our body.
Here are some high fiber foods that will promote good colon health:
|Food||Serving size||Total fiber (grams)|
|Split peas, boiled||1 cup||16.3|
|Lentils, boiled||1 cup||15.6|
|Black beans, boiled||1 cup||15|
|Lima beans, boiled||1 cup||13.2|
|Baked beans, vegetarian, canned, cooked||1 cup||10.4|
|Artichoke, boiled||1 medium||10.3|
|Green peas, boiled||1 cup||8.8|
|Spaghetti, whole-wheat, cooked||1 cup||6.3|
|Barley, pearled, cooked||1 cup||6|
|Bran flakes||3/4 cup||5.5|
What else can we do to promote a healthy colon?
There are other things that we can help us have a healthy colon:
- Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. This will help keep our digestive system flowing normally and keep our body hydrated.
- Eating a balanced diet. This will help provide the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that our body needs.
- Take supplements that promote colon health like a probiotic.
- It is also helpful to periodically cleanse our colon and flush out any built-up materials or unwanted toxins.
As we can see, the colon does play an important part in keeping us healthy. We have seen some common problems that can plague our colon and what we can do to help keep our colon working properly.
Today keeping our colon working properly is not always easy, but it is very important that we do. Otherwise, problems that start in the colon do not always stay there. If our colon cannot function correctly and help keep the waste moving through our system, it will cause problems in other areas of our body as well.
If you experience any discomfort in your lower stomach, constipated, or have diarrhea more than what is normal for you, it may be time to discuss this with your doctor. Don’t be embarrassed. This is your health that we are talking about. Once your health goes, what quality of life will you have?
Below you can leave any comments, questions, or topics you would like to see in future discussions.
Thank you for reading and keep your colon healthy,
(2018, August 4). Retrieved from Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/high-fiber-foods/art-20050948
(2018, August 4). Retrieved from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/picture-of-the-colon#1
(2018, August 4). Retrieved from Medline Plus Gov: https://medlineplus.gov/colonicdiseases.html
(2018, August 4). Retrieved from Med TV: http://digestive-system.emedtv.com/colon/colon-problems.html