What if there was one organ in your body that had the power to control the way you look, feel and think? And what if this organ serves as a common denominator for most of today’s health problems?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, anywhere from 60 to 70 million people in the U.S. are affected annually by some kind of digestive diseases, which are all too often related to an unhealthy colon. In 2015, the CDC reported that about 3 million adults were diagnosed with IBD (either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), and this estimate does not include children aged <18 years, who may also have IBD. It is also estimated that 75% of people older than 45 suffer from hemorrhoids and 63 million people suffer from chronic constipation. The American Cancer Society projects 135,430 individuals newly diagnosed in 2017 with colorectal cancer with 50,260 deaths from that disease.
Let’s meet the “star of the show”
The colon, also known as the large intestine, is a very important part of your digestive system. The colon lining has sensitive nerves and glands that help in the absorption of food, especially some vitamins, minerals, water, and enzymes. During the course of the day, your colon will also eliminate unhealthy, unwanted substances in the waste area of your body in the form of bowel movement.
There is no “normal” number of bowel movements since it varies from person-to-person. However, experts recommend one to two bowel movements per day to facilitate the removal of wastes inside your body. Otherwise…
When your colon is sluggish, due to poor diet, high levels of emotional stress, and unhealthy lifestyle, your body is not able to eliminate waste materials effectively. These waste materials deposit along your colon wall and stay in there for days (and even weeks, months, and years). They accumulate and can be up to three inches thick and as hard as tire rubber. This contributes to various digestive issues mentioned above.
Did you know that a toxic colon can lead to other illnesses outside your digestive system?
The average person has between 7 to 10 pounds of old fecal matter in their colon, even with one bowel movement each day! The accumulation of waste on the walls of your colon creates the perfect breeding ground for parasites, yeast, bad bacteria and viruses. For many people today, the colon is covered with fecal matter and toxins and detoxification pathways are essentially blocked. Over time, this toxic buildup leads to:
- Your body’s capacity to absorb vitamins and essential nutrients is restricted.
- Your body cannot filter water back into your bloodstream, leading to dehydration and auto intoxication.
- Your sleeping patterns deteriorate.
- Your overall energy drops and you experience fatigue and muscle weakness.
- You start gaining weight.
- You may experience any number of other medical conditions due to the presence of bacteria and parasites.
In other words, an unhealthy colon is not only the underlying cause of most digestive diseases but it also affects your entire body and is a contributing factor to many health problems. A toxic colon may lead to skin issues such as blemishes, wrinkles, paleness and liver spots, to pain and stiffness in your joints that could lead to arthritis, to muscle weakness, to irritated lungs, to a weakened heart, and to premature aging. It may even disturb your brain and overall mental function.
Many doctors now believe that supporting digestive health and restoring the integrity of the gut wall will be one of the most important goals of modern medicine in the next 10 years.
Common Signs That Tell You Your Colon is Toxic
Aside from chronic dehydration, there are other common signs that beg for your attention. These include the following:
- Distention or bloating of the abdomen.
- Abdominal pain and tenderness.
- Painful bowel movement.
- Acid reflux.
- Constipation with stools that are large, hard, and difficult to pass.
- Diarrhea, wherein your stools have watery consistency and at times bloody.
- Unexplained weight gain despite eating a normal, balanced diet.
- Rapid heart rate or tachycardia.
And, yet, there are other warning signs, including:
- Sluggishness, brain fog or fatigue.
- Depression, anxiety, irritability or forgetfulness.
- Kidney or liver disorder.
- High or low blood pressure.
- Body odor and bad breath.
- Skin and hair issues like wrinkles.
- Bladder infections.
- Hormonal imbalances or fertility problems.
- Back and leg pain.
- Burning sensations in your eyes, face, hands, or feet.
If you experienced any of these symptoms together with the other common signs of toxic colon, then it could be a sign of something serious. This is why it is crucial that you consult with your physician for a proper diagnosis.
Keep Your Colon Happy – 8 Practical Tips for Supporting Your Colon
The colon is literally the gateway to your health. There is no part of the body, no disease, no organ system – that the colon does not directly or indirectly affect! Here are a few practical tips to help you keep your colon happy:
- Improve your hydration. Drink one-half of your body weight (pounds) in ounces of water daily. Minimize intake of other beverages.
- Eliminate toxic foods from your diet. This includes processed foods, fast foods, sugary foods and sweets, sodas, pastries, and breakfast cereals.
- Switch to organic, non-GMO foods. At the very least, follow the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Lists published annually by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
- Incorporate proper eating habits. Serve yourself small portions. Regularly under-eat. Stop eating prior to feeling full. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Eat in silence. Eat mostly a plant-based diet. Stay as raw and low sugar as possible. Practice food rotation and follow the colors of the rainbow when selecting ingredients for your meal. Stop eating around 6:00-7:00PM.
- Avoid excess antibiotic use, NSAIDs and anti-acid medications.
- Increase intake of prebiotic whole foods. Raw onions, garlic, dandelion greens, artichokes and bananas are some of the best prebiotic foods to add to your diet. You should also eat whole foods that are fermented such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, microalgae, and goat or coconut kefir (vinegar-based and/or pasteurized foods should be avoided since these elements kill good bacteria).
- Consider performing a colon cleanse on a regular basis (a herbal/juicing program, Colon Hydrotherapy or coffee enemas). Frequency depends on your method of choice.
6 Foods to Help Boost Your Colon
- Bananas: restore health of the bacterial community, may reduce inflammation due to high levels of potassium and magnesium. A slightly under-ripe banana is more beneficial than a ripe banana because it has more starch than sugar content.
- Cruciferous Vegetables: increase the amount of glucosinolate (organic compounds) in our bodies that helps create enzyme production for digestion. Studies show people who eat the most cruciferous vegetables reduce their risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent.
- Garlic: packed with prebiotic properties, inulin and fructooligosaccharides which can boost gut bacteria in the gut and may help protect against some gastrointestinal diseases.
- Sweet potatoes. These sweet spuds are loaded with phytosterols, which make sweet potatoes a superfood when it comes to fighting colon cancer. They can also reduce the discomfort associated with constipation and irritable bowels. Additionally, sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber, beta carotene, vitamins C and E and manganese, all of which can assist with healthy bowel movements and reduce toxins in the colon.
- Tuna. A significant portion of the body’s detoxification process takes place in the colon. Tuna contains copious amounts of selenium, the body’s key detoxification element. As a matter of fact, you can get 60 percent of your recommended daily allotment of selenium in just a three-ounce serving of tuna. Tuna is also rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (good fats), which help to prevent cancer.
- Fermented plant-based foods (such as tempeh and miso): these are probiotics that have been found to improve the health of the intestinal cells, improve immune function, decrease allergies, reduce the risk of colon cancer, and treat diarrhea.