Being imperative for digestive health makes the colon paramount for our general health and well-being. Despite this, we often tend to forget about it and the importance of a healthy colon. This organ (also known as the large intestine) is the final stop with regard to the digestion of food. After being partially digested in the small intestine, the food reaches the colon. The colon then removes the water and the bacteria within the colon helps to break down the rest of the food before it leaves the body.
The colon works as the sewer of the body
It’s also filled with good bacteria which can provide the body with a range of benefits. A healthy colon means that you’ll produce two to three bowel movements a day and that these movements are fast and easy. A healthy stool is light brown and floats. Symptoms related to digestive issues can often stem from other health issues. That being said, it’s important to be able to recognize specific symptoms, and these include;
- Chronic diarrhea
- Black stools
- Blood on your stool
- Pain when having a bowel movement
Other factors that can disrupt a healthy colon include inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and colon cancer. Colon cancer (colorectal cancer) is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the world. Risk factors for colon cancer include age, family history, inflammatory bowel disease, and heavy alcohol use.
With that being said, being proactive in ensuring a healthy colon will help safeguard your overall health.
Eating for a healthy colon
In regards to colon health, diet is extremely important as your colon cannot work efficiently if your diet is rich in processed foods and refined sugars. These types of foods are void of nutrients, meaning that they cannot feed the nerves and cells within the walls of the colons. This results in a starved colon, which then leads to constipation. Additionally, you should also reduce your consumption of red meat, as studies have linked high consumption of red meat with colon health issues. To promote a healthy colon, fruits and vegetables are an absolute must. According to one study, vegetarians have a lower risk of developing colon cancer. Adding omega-3’s to your diet can also reduce your risk of colon cancer. Omega-3 foods include salmon and walnuts.
Lastly, increasing your fibre intake can also help to promote a healthy colon, as the fibre helps in the cleansing process.
There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre helps to decrease diarrhea by increasing the stool size. It also helps to increase good bacteria. Insoluble fibre helps in the movement of food through the intestines. Vegetables, whole grains and seeds are great sources of both insoluble and soluble fibre.
It’s also important to stay hydrated as a lack of fluid can lead to a build-up of toxins. Click here to find out why the Mediterranean diet is considered good for the gut as well as the heart.
Aside from eating a healthy diet and living an active lifestyle, another way in which to promote colon health is by getting a colon screening – a colonoscopy. Granted, it’s not the greatest experience but it’s important – especially if you’re at high risk of developing colon cancer. It’s also best to consult your doctor about a colonoscopy if you’re experiencing digestive issues such as chronic diarrhea. Screening is especially vital as it finds colon cancer early.
What about a colon cleanse?
There are natural ways in which you can keep your colon clean. Colon cleanses are seen as a method to flush out toxins and waste material that may be trapped in your colon. It’s often seen as a remedy for constipation. Although you can cleanse your colon yourself, it’s best to consult your doctor beforehand.