Do You Need A Colon Cleanse?

What does the colon do?

In order to understand what the colon does, how it 
works and how its state can affect our health,
it's helpful first to learn a little about the
greater digestive system of which it forms a part. The digestive system The digestive tract is made up of a group of organs,
including the mouth, throat, oesophagus, stomach,
small intestine, large intestine and anus. The
pancreas, liver and gallbladder also play an
essential role in helping the stomach and
small intestine to digest food. This system is uniquely designed to: i) break the food you eat down into its
constituent nutrients, which the body can
then absorb and use for energy, growth and
cell repair ii) swiftly eliminate waste-matter and toxins
that are by-products of this process, which
would be harmful to the body if allowed to
remain. In this way, the efficiency of the digestive
system can have a direct impact on almost
every aspect of health, including the immune
system, toxic load and energy levels. The large intestine The large intestine includes both the colon and
rectum. The colon is approximately 5 - 6 feet
in length and has an ascending, transverse and
descending portion. From there, it joins the
rectum through the sigmoid colon (so-called
for its "S" shape - the Greek letter for S is
called sigma). The most important jobs of the large intestine
are the formation and excretion of waste,
the absorption of water and minerals and the
production of vitamins B1, B2, B12 and K
(by beneficial bacteria that reside in the colon). Waste left over from the digestive process is passed through
the colon and ultimately eliminated by means of peristalsis
(when the intestinal walls contract in successive waves),
first in a liquid state and ultimately in solid form as the
water is removed from the stool. It can take food anywhere between 18 and 24 hours to pass
along the length of the colon. Once the waste-matter reaches
the sigmoid colon, it is stored until a "mass movement"
empties it into the rectum. A fully functioning, healthy colon will rid the body of
harmful wastes and toxins through bowel movements 2 to 3
times per day, depending on the amount of food eaten. Bacteria in the colon Research shows that a healthy colon is host to billions of
friendly bacteria (intestinal flora), which play a critical
role in both digestion and overall health and well-being.
In fact, it is estimated that more than 500 species of
bacteria are present in the human gut, in concentrations of
between 1 billion and 1 trillion microbes per gram! These naturally-occurring, beneficial bacteria perform
several important functions, such as synthesising vitamins
(as already mentioned), processing waste products and food
particles, and protecting against harmful bacteria. Our digestive tract is a major entry point for toxins,
bacteria and other harmful micro-organisms into our bodies.
If levels of the good bacteria in our stomach and intestines
fall too low (for instance, as a result of illness, stress,
age or antibiotic use etc), the delicate balance between the
beneficial bacteria and harmful bacteria can become
unbalanced - this is sometimes referred to as dysbiosis. In these circumstances, we can become more vulnerable to the
overgrowth of yeast, fungi, parasites and harmful bacteria. Similarly, if digestion is sluggish and constipation is
present, waste matter can sit in the colon for several days
before being eliminated, creating the perfect environment
for increased bacterial activity. During this time, the waste will continue to putrefy and,
meanwhile, any remaining liquid continues to be extracted
and taken back to the bloodstream - along with the toxins
from the bacteria and process of putrefaction. This is
called auto-intoxication or self-poisoning. An unhappy colon The digestive system is continually in use, performing a
range of essential functions every day. As such, it is
hardly surprising that it can sometimes come under strain
- particularly if we are more vulnerable due to, for
instance, pregnancy, illness, stress, old age or travel
etc. In many cases, digestive problems are caused by the
accumulation of toxins and/or an imbalance in gut and
intestinal flora (as described above). Poor diet, lack of
exercise and poor hydration are all conducive to an unhappy
colon, as well as being factors likely to contribute to
toxic load and dysbiosis. Diverticulitis, for instance, is a very common condition in
affluent Western countries where there are over-eating, yet
poorly nourished, populations with diets high in sugar,
refined carbohydrates, saturated fat and processed foods. This condition involves the formation of little 'pockets'
in the colon walls, which develop over time and become the
repository for deposits of waste material. These can become
hardened and difficult to remove, narrowing the passage
through which waste can be expelled over time. Two other common conditions associated with inflammation or
irritation of the intestinal walls are irritable bowel
syndrome (IBS) and leaky gut syndrome. These unpleasant
conditions can result in alternating spells of constipation
and diarrhoea, as well as bloating, wind and pain. More seriously, an excessively permeable gut wall can make
you more vulnerable to developing food allergies and
intolerances (by allowing undigested food molecules to enter
the bloodstream), and also allow bacteria, fungi, metals
and other toxic substances to spill into the bloodstream and
travel to other areas of the body. This is one way in which
Candida is allowed to flourish. Caring for your colon A common thread amongst all of the long-established dietary
and natural therapies is the belief in the benefit of
regularly cleansing the body, beginning with the colon, in
order to rid the body of any accumulated waste and toxins
that could be harmful to health. As such, any programme that addresses both the health of the
colon and digestive tract as a whole is now widely
considered to be ideal by health-conscious individuals. There are a number of possible ways to achieve this,
including: upping your water and dietary fibre intake;
adjusting your diet (for instance, to include more fermented
foods and drinks); colonic irrigation; full body cleanse
and detox programmes; and supplementation. Herbal and herb-free colon cleansers, digestive enzymes,
natural digestives, fibre and probiotic supplements can all
help to support colonic health and efficient digestion.

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