Is your colon sluggish?
Protecting your colon health is crucial to your entire body. Without a smoothly running gastrointestinal system, you’re unable to flush toxins as quickly and effectively as you should.
When your food travels your colon, the large intestine forms waste product and absorbs the water from it. Contractions push the stool onward to its “final destination” and by the time it reaches the end of the road, most (but not all) of the water has been absorbed.
With a sluggish colon, also known as lazy bowel, those contractions aren’t as efficient. It takes longer for waste to get where it needs to go (out of your body). Your colon absorbs too much water which causes constipation. That’s when your stool is hard, dry, and even painful to expel.
This is a condition that affects more than 4 million Americans. Women are three times more likely to experience constipation than men.
Constipation can also cause bloating, gas, abdominal cramps, fatigue, and infrequent bowel movements. While frequency of movements differs from person to person depending on diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits, a safe range is twice a day or a minimum of three times per week.
Less than that and you can guarantee waste product is building up inside you!
In the long-term, constipation can lead to hemorrhoids, rectal bleeding, prolapse of the rectum, and impaction – when the stool is packed so tightly that normal muscle contractions cannot push it through the colon.
Some habits or conditions provoke constipation. It’s important to treat your colon with the care it requires or it can lead to bigger issues.
Negative Impacts to Colon Health
- Laxative or diuretic abuse
- Excessive use of antacids
- Prescription drug side effects (narcotics, antidepressants, and antispasmodics)
- Iron supplementation
- Lack of exercise
- Intolerance of dairy products (or eating too much)
- Too few fluids (dehydration)
- Not enough fiber in your diet
- Life changes (travel, new diet, pregnancy, or surgery)
- Ignoring or repressing the need for a bowel movement
There are also diseases and conditions that affect colon health. Stroke, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), lupus, spinal cord injuries, hypothyroidism, neurological conditions (Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis), mood disorders (depression), diabetes, and eating disorders have all been linked to increased occurrence of constipation.
6 Tips to Promote Colon Health
1. Stay hydrated. Even if you have to infuse the water you drink with mint or citrus, drink at least ½ an ounce of water per pound of body weight daily. Healthy urine is pale yellow or clear.
2. Yes, you need fiber. Make sure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet. Foods with good to excellent amounts of fiber are leafy greens, carrots, beans and peas, squash, avocado, dates, berries, prunes, and peanut butter.
3. Get your body moving. Extreme exercise isn’t necessary but getting a bit every day will help the muscle contractions in your colon to do their job. A walk around the block will get you started!
4. Skip the pills. Limit laxatives, diuretics, antacids, and pain medication (even over-the-counter). These products should always be used sparingly. They throw off your body’s balance.
5. Eat your iron. Try to get adequate iron through food rather than supplements, which can be hard on your digestive system. Animal meat products, beans, leafy greens, and dried fruit are great sources of this important nutrient.
6. Prepare for life events. Pregnancy and labor can really throw your system out of whack for several months. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect your colon health.
If you have a condition that makes bowel movements a common problem for you, consider a popular recipe that’s mild enough to get things moving without taking you in the opposite (and just as uncomfortable) direction.
- 1 cup natural applesauce
- 1 cup bran
- ½ cup prune juice
- Mix well or blend until smooth with jam-like consistency.
- Store in sealed glass container.
- Spread one tablespoon on apple slices before bed to stimulate morning bowel movements. If there is no improvement within two weeks, take two tablespoons nightly.
- Safe to consume daily with a large glass of water or green tea.
If you often find yourself straining during a bowel movement, you need to evaluate your colon health immediately. Elimination of waste is the cornerstone of total body wellness.
Ignoring your colon and the rest of your gut is a recipe for disaster. Your gut is where more than 70% of your immune system resides.
A gut that’s lazy or sluggish courts problems you don’t want down the line such as excessive inflammation, chronic pain, auto-immune disorders, and even cancer.
Everybody poops. Make sure you’re pooping as much as you should be.