To be healthy, it is important to have all the organs function in a proper way. One such part is the colon. Even though it’s not often talked about, your colon’s health greatly affects your overall well-being. The colon, also known as the large intestine, is the last part of the digestion process. It absorbs water and electrolytes from undigested food, forms stool, and helps remove waste from your body.
Keeping a balance in this part of your digestive tract is important. This article focuses on the importance of colon health, often overlooked in your busy life. This article will also discuss some ways to keep your colon healthy, leading to better health and longer life.
What is a Colon?
Colon refers to the large intestine, the final stop in your digestive system. It absorbs water and electrolytes from digested food, forming stool and eliminating waste. Think of it as your body’s recycling center, transforming leftovers into waste and keeping your system running smoothly.
Why is it Important to Have a Healthy Colon?
The colon is vital for your overall health. A few reasons for a healthy colon are as follows:
1. Nutrient Absorption
The colon’s responsibility is to retain nutrients the small intestine does not absorb. This includes water, sodium, and fat-solvent nutrients A, D, E, and K. These nutrients are fundamental and important to the body. For instance, sodium regulates blood pressure and volume, water maintains fluid balance, and vitamins support bone health, vision, and blood clotting. Thus, a healthy colon ensures all the nutrients are well absorbed.
2. Waste Removal
It helps in excreting waste by absorbing extra water and electrolytes from undigested food This procedure is very important. Regular bowel movements are ensured by a healthy colon, thereby preventing constipation and hemorrhoids.
3. Colon Disease Prevention
A healthy colon may aid in preventing colorectal cancer, diverticular disease, and inflammatory bowel disease. Colorectal cancer ranks as the third most prevalent cancer in both men and women and Diverticular disease results in small pouches forming in the colon wall. While inflammatory bowel disease leads to long-lasting inflammation in the digestive tract. Screenings and a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and exercise can significantly reduce the risks of these diseases.
4. pH Balance Maintenance
The colon helps maintain pH balance by absorbing bicarbonate from the pancreas and secreting hydrogen ions. The bicarbonate neutralizes the acidic chyme entering the colon from the small intestine. This balance allows enzymes to function optimally and protects them from harmful bacteria and viruses.
5. Immune System Support
The gut houses approximately 70% of the body’s immune cells. A healthy colon can bolster a robust immune system, safeguarding you from illness and infection.
5 Tips for Keeping Your Colon Healthy
The welfare of your colon is of paramount importance. It is critical in digestion, nutrient absorption, and waste removal. There are several strategies you can put into practice to sustain colon health:
1. Incorporate Fiber-Rich Foods
Dietary fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes prevents constipation. Furthermore, it provides additional benefits like reducing diabetes and heart disease risk. As fiber travels undigested through your system, it keeps your digestive tract clean and facilitates bowel movements and the expulsion of cholesterol and carcinogens.
High-fiber foods are beneficial because they add bulk to stool and encourage regularity, thereby preventing constipation and diverticulosis. Nutrition experts recommend 20-35 grams of fiber daily.
2. Stay Hydrated
Water is essential for digestion. It facilitates the dissolution of soluble fiber and lipids, making them easier to pass through. Adequate water intake helps to soften your stool and stimulates your intestines to contract, helping food to move through your colon more quickly.
Drinking enough water can help prevent digestive problems such as constipation and hemorrhoids. Make an effort to consume at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. When you’re physically active or hot outside, more water is needed to compensate for the amount lost through perspiration.
3. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise promotes good colon health. It helps stimulate the natural contractions of your intestines and can decrease the time it takes for food to move through your colon. One benefit of this practice is avoiding harmful substances from lingering excessively in your colon.
Overall wellness is promoted through regular exercise by reducing your susceptibility to heart disease and diabetes, regulating your weight, and strengthening your immune response. The Department of Health and Human Services advocates participating in a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity.
4. Limit Red and Processed Meats
Research indicates that eating large amounts of processed and red meats may increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer. These meats often contain high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol. If you eat red meat, opt for lean cuts and smaller portions. Prepare meats by baking, broiling, or poaching instead of frying or charbroiling.
The American Cancer Society advises restricting your intake of red meats (beef, pork, and lamb) and processed meats (including hot dogs, sausage, deli, and luncheon meats). These have been associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer.
5. Get Regular Screenings
Routine screening is one of the most effective ways to prevent colorectal cancer. Doctors can frequently detect and remove precancerous polyps before they develop into cancer. Regular screening can also help find colorectal cancer early when it is most treatable. For average-risk people, screening typically starts at age 50.
However, if you have a family history of colon issues or other risk factors, you may require screening at a younger age. The American Cancer Society recommends people at average risk for colorectal cancer begin routine screening at age 45.
Integrate these five suggestions into your routine to nurture a robust colon and delight your digestive tract. Keep in mind that a wholesome menu, moving your body, drinking adequate water, undergoing periodic check-ups, and steering clear of detrimental behaviors can meaningfully contribute to a more vigorous colon.
Make your digestive wellbeing a priority, heed your body’s signals, and do not delay consulting healthcare specialists if any concerns arise. Your colon fulfills a pivotal role in your digestive workings, and by lavishing it with the care it warrants, you are sowing the seeds for a healthier, more joyful future.
- Vieira AR, Abar L, Chan DSM, et al. Foods and beverages and colorectal cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies, an update of the evidence of the WCRF-AICR Continuous Update Project. Ann Oncol 2017; 28:1788–1802. [PubMed]
- Pan P, Yu J, Wang LS. Colon cancer: what we eat. Surg Oncol Clin N Am 2018; 27:243–267. This review summarized major epidemiologic studies and examined the relation-ship between CRC incidence and different dietary components, such as red/ process meat, fish, fiber, and fruits and vegetables. [PMC free article]