The Intestinal System
The Body’s Waste Disposal Plant
The intestinal system is like a city’s waste disposal plant. While the digestive system breaks down nutrients so they can be distributed throughout the body, the intestinal system generally absorbs waste products out of the body so that they can be excreted with indigestible food fiber.
The colon may be divided into three parts: ascending, transverse and descending. It is only five feet long, but it has a 2-1/2 inch diameter, three times the diameter of the small intestine. The colon forms a frame for the convoluted shape of the small intestine.
The Elimination Process
Undigested food – in liquid form – flows from the small intestine into the large intestine. Once there, most of the water and mineral salts are absorbed into the body. The remaining semi-solid water is about 60-70 percent water and 10-30 percent bacteria combined with indigestible cellulose material, dead cells and other waste materials. The smooth muscular walls of the colon contract (called peristalsis) to move waste through the colon. This takes anywhere from 12-24 hours or longer, depending upon the amount of roughage present.
Stools reveal a lot about your health. You can get clues about dietary issues, gastrointestinal health, and even whether your stress, anger, or anxiety levels are too high. Stools: The Bowl Truth
Factors in Colon Health
Much like the teeth, the colon is adversely affected by the types of food we eat. People with diets high in refined foods (sugar and white flour, for example) and low-fiber foods (meat, eggs and dairy products) and low in high-fiber foods (fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains) are especially susceptible to intestinal problems. Colon and rectal disorders are much more common in America than in Africa or Asia, due to the difference in diets. For example, in parts of Africa, the diet contains seven times more fiber than that of the average Western diet.
The colon works best when moderately full, and dietary fiber fills this requirement. Fiber provides no nutrients to the body, but it does promote good health because it is very absorbent. Fiber can absorb many times its weight in water. This aids in maintaining proper bowel elimination (regularity).
Insufficient roughage leads to constipation and diarrhea. These conditions can also be caused by nervous stress. Intestinal problems common to Western culture may be helped by the addition of fiber to the diet. High-fiber foods include bran, prunes, psyllium seed or hulls and other mucilaginous herbs. For information on a popular fiber formula. Another factor in colon health is maintaining a good supply of the beneficial bacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus, which performs a number of beneficial tasks in the colon.
When the colon is nutritionally supported with a diet high in natural fiber, other nutritional components and healthy bacteria, it is able to function at peak efficiency.
Your stools can tell you a lot about your health. If you don’t have a weak stomach, you may want to read this information on stools to learn what different types of stools indicate.
Cleansing Your Way to a Healthy Intestinal System
The function of the intestinal system is to absorb waste products in the body so they can be excreted and not reabsorbed. The colon helps to eliminate:
• remnants of food that can’t be digested
• remnants of food that are normally digested, but were not
• byproducts of fermentation and bacterial reactions that break down food
• secretions from the intestines (mucus and salts)
• bacteria, parasites and waste products of blood and tissue cells
Problems with the colon are frequently due to a poor diet. Two things can be done to strengthen the colon: improve the diet and periodically cleanse the colon . Though many may discount the importance of colon cleansing for good health, good elimination is just as important for health as assimilating the right nutrients. Study more about colon cleansing .
This is a common problem characterized by sluggish colon action. It may be caused by
• eating highly refined foods
• eating too quickly
• having a stressful lifestyle
• not digesting your foods
• not drinking enough water
• failing to exercise adequately.
Mucus-forming foods, such as dairy products, are especially prone to contribute to constipation. These foods may form a sticky matter that adheres to the colon wall. This attracts further buildup, blocks absorption of minerals and traps toxins. A stagnant bowel may lead to the stagnant condition of constipation, allowing toxins to spread throughout the body.
Improving your digestion by taking digestive enzymes, can be very helpful in breaking down your food well. Once this is achieved it is much easier for your intestinal system to evacuate well digested foods. Reading about the Digestive System will help you to understand this concept.
Eating more raw foods helps to repopulate your body with much needed enzymes to break down your food. Consequently, more live/raw foods can improve constipation too. Most of us can’t or won’t take the time to eat enough raw foods. So, Nature’s Sunshine has created a complete plant based enzymes product that helps to put live enzymes back into your body and aid your digestion.
One way to alleviate constipation and other colon problems is to add fiber to the daily diet. Bowel activity is affected by the amount of fiber, as well as water, present in the colon. In general, fiber includes such foods as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. Fruits and vegetables are known as cleansing foods. Scientists are finding that cultures who forage for vegetables and whole grains don’t have problems with constipation, colon cancer, diverticulitis or other associated health problems. Why? The high fiber content of these diets aids in the proper elimination of body waste.
There are two main types of fiber – each performs a different role. Soluble fiber forms a gel with water, creating a laxative effect. Soluble fiber traps sugar and binds cholesterol. Pectin, gum and mucilage are examples of soluble fibers and can be found in wheat, corn bran and cereal grains.
Sponge-like insoluble fiber contributes to regular bowel function by adding bulk. Fruits, vegetables, beans and oats contain insoluble fibers such as cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Fiber also helps to absorb and thus eliminate toxic substances. Sometimes, people who have an irritated bowel , cannot use the ‘scrubbing’ fibers like psyllium hulls since their intestinal lining is already inflamed and/or ulcerated. Intestinal Soothe and Build is an excellent formula of herbs to work with this condition.
Of course, bran is an excellent source of dietary fiber. When adding bran to your diet, begin with a small amount, such as one teaspoon per day. As the body becomes accustomed to the bran/ increase the amount of your daily intake.
Yogurt and acidophilus bacteria also contribute to a healthy colon by supplying friendly bacteria that assist in normal, healthy colon function. Yogurt sources of acidophilus should be carefully selected, since pasteurization may destroy bacteria.
Simply changing eating habits may not be enough to achieve a healthy colon. The colon must also be fully cleansed. Colon cleansing is a very popular subject among those interested in natural health. They understand that after years of improper eating, the body needs foods that tone, rebuild and strengthen the colon. (While many rely on laxatives, most laxatives merely irritate the colon.)
Begin with a slow, basic cleansing program that includes herbs that nutritionally act as loosening, bulking and absorbing agents. In addition, herbs that act as peristaltic agents, flora regulators, nervines and anti-gas/anti-odor agents may be added as desired.
Cleansing programs may be easily designed according to individual needs.
Here’s a basic recipe for a cleanse. The four ingredients may be mixed in a glass of juice and taken with the LBS II capsules every night.
A basic cleansing program may last for three to six months and provides gentle cleansing action. If you are miserable while cleansing, you’re probably cleansing too fast and should decrease the amounts of the most active ingredients in your cleansing program.
These were designed so you could cleanse and work at the same time. More rapid cleansing action may be achieved by fasting while cleansing. When food intake is temporarily stopped, whatever is least essential to the body (mucus, fat, unhealthy cells and tissues) is eliminated first. When ending a fast, gradually build up to solid foods.
As you improve your dietary habits and undertake a cleansing program, desired results may not, and usually don’t, happen immediately. Positive changes in intestinal health require patience and diligence. However, by committing yourself to these beneficial lifestyle changes, you will experience increased well-being and vitality as you maintain a healthy intestinal system.
A key product for the intestinal system is Bowel Detox. It provides enzymes, bile salts, fiber, chlorophyll and other nutrients that feed and nourish the bowel and bring balance back over a period of time.