How to Promote Colon Health in 5 Simple Steps
If there’s one organ in your body whose health is vital, it’s the colon. The colon is responsible for holding more than 70 percent of your immune system and processing waste matter. When it is unhealthy, however, colon transit time lengthens from eight hours to more than 36 hours, resulting in stored waste that can weigh up to 20 pounds.
All of this can have a serious effect on both your immune system and your ability to lose weight. As your colon health is compromised, your digestion slows and fat is stored more quickly. And without the beneficial bacteria present in the colon, you’re more prone than ever to infection and illness.
To avoid these unhappy consequences, try these five steps to improving and maintaining colon health.
1. Stay Hydrated
As with most areas of your health, your colon can easily be improved if you drink more water. As water helps to move waste materials, a greater intake will soften stools and prevent them from being formed before they reach your rectal pouch, which can cause constipation.
Try keeping a water bottle on your desk at work, or even eating water-rich foods like watermelon or celery. You don’t have to down several glasses a day—just enough so that you don’t often feel thirsty.
2. Eat the Right Foods
A balanced diet full of the right foods can work to clean your colon from the inside out. Look for fruits and vegetables that are full of fiber and potassium, which can help the body fight off disease-causing toxins that pollute the digestive system.
Almonds and peanuts are another good option, as they contain fiber, which regulates the digestive system and expands like a sponge to soak up waste materials and carry them out of the body.
Other foods to check out include whole grains like whole wheat bread, oats, pasta, and brown rice. These foods also contain high content fiber that bulks up stool and increases the speed at which waste exits your body. This not only prevents your colon from becoming clogged, but also prevents your body from storing fat, meaning your metabolism will kick into gear and your body will turn to existing fat for energy.
3. Don’t Just Snack—Eat Substantial Meals
Despite what you may have heard regarding weight loss, try to avoid snacking in favor of eating a substantial meal. Eating a full meal will stimulate the stretch receptors in your stomach that tell your intestines that it’s time to trigger peristalsis—or the contractions that move waste through your colon and rectum.
When this occurs, large chunks of your meal are formed into stools and eliminated from the body. By contrast, snacking results in bowel movements that are fewer and further between, allowing food to sit in your stomach longer and eventually converted to fat stores.
4. Get Enough Vitamin A and D
Whether you do so through supplement or diet, make sure you’re taking in plenty of Vitamin A and Vitamin D.
Vitamin A is responsible for maintaining the health of the cells that release mucus to lubricate bowel movements, helping them move on more quickly. Meanwhile, Vitamin D lowers your risk of colorectal cancer and keeps your colon in healthy condition. Both of these together will promote better digestion and overall health.
5. Don’t Suppress the Urge to Go
While having a bowel movement isn’t always convenient—especially in public or at someone else’s house—it is important not to ignore the signals that your body is giving you.
When you do suppress a bowel movement, the waste materials stay in your colon and cause dehydration. This leads to hard stools and worse overall health. It also increases the chance that waste will dry out and cling to the walls of your colon and digestive tract, making it harder to digest food in the future and causing stomach bloat.
What Else Can I Do?
If you feel you may already be having problems with your colon, make an appointment to see your doctor. He or she may recommend a colonoscopy or other investigative measures.
If you’re simply suffering from constipation or bloat, however, you may want to check out some affordable enemas or colon cleansers to get your body back on the right track.