Pay Attention to Your Colon Health Now –
or Pay Later!
By Tara Alder
To obtain a higher level of vitality and wellness, we must truly appreciate and understand the connection between a healthy colon and our overall health. As a therapist and educator, I help my clients gain a greater level of respect and awareness for their intestinal processes. Vibrant health is a direct result of good intestinal function. Although some doctors believe that 80-90% of diseases start in the colon, little remains known as to what normal colon functioning really is. Many of us think of health as an absence of disease, and in doing so fall short of optimal wellness. Instead we flounder in an endless sea of media fed information that equates to unclear guidelines and a lack of truth about what health is- how to obtain it and maintain it. The phenomenon of poor intestinal health is common among normal American lifestyles. We may experience imbalances including: premature ageing, malnutrition, dehydration, fatigue, prolonged bowel transit times (i.e., constipation), gas, bloating, and a host of other unpleasant symptoms. We can look at some statistics to see why our colon health is so important then I will explain what the colon is and how it functions. With that knowledge we can learn how to improve our intestinal integrity and regain our optimal health.
Let's begin by getting a really good picture of the current state of diseases related to colon conditions. Colorectal and other colon cancers, diverticulitis and appendicitis are all becoming known diseases throughout our families. These are merely a few of the many diagnoses that Americans are considering common.
What is colon cancer and where does it come from?
Cancer of the colon is a disease which occurs when malignant cells reproduce anywhere in the tissues of the colon. Polyps are the precursor to colon cancers and can be removed and tested with help of a gastroenterologist during a colonoscopy. This diagnostic study is recommended for those who experience bowel irregularity or for those aged 40 and over. Some deaths may be prevented by early detection.
The American Cancer Society Graphical Data on Colon & Rectal Cancer, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Colon Cancer Alliance report these statistics:
Colon cancer is the second most deadly cancer in the United States, according to National Cancer Institute statistics.
If detected early in a localized stage, the 5 year survival rates are 93 percent for colon cancer and 87 percent for rectal cancer.
If the disease is diagnosed at an advanced stage, there is only an 8.5 percent chance of survival.
37 percent of colorectal cancers are diagnosed at this late stage.
In North America alone over 145,000 people are diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer each year.
Six to seven percent of people will develop colon or rectal cancer in their lifetime, according to the Colon Cancer Alliance.
Understanding What the Colon and Digestive Tract Are and How They Function
The digestive tract is a long hollow muscular tube where food goes in one end and waste exits through the other. Many organs make up this digestive tract including the mouth, the esophagus, the stomach and the small and large intestines. Absorption of nutrients and elimination of waste occur here. Our digestive tract conserves water, distributes nutrients to the body, creates an environment rich in beneficial bacteria making up part of our immune system and provides for a path to eliminate what is no longer needed.
Now let us review what the colon is and how it works. The colon which is also referred to as the bowel or large intestine is the last five feet of our digestive tract and functions to absorb water allowing stool to form for evacuation.
Inside the muscular wall of the colon is a lining of tissue like the inside of your cheeks that secretes lubrication and mucous. An abundance of beneficial bacteria inhabit the lubricating mucous of the colon lining. This flora functions to neutralize, dissipate, and help prevent toxic conditions from developing in the colon. The mucous is a protective barrier that allows nutrients to absorb while aiding in the smooth passage of stool. The colon contains the largest concentration of bacteria in the body. Most of these bacteria are beneficial and are necessary to manufacture vitamins B & K and are an important part of your immune system. However, waste remaining in the colon longer than it should results in fermentation and putrefaction which may produce harmful bacteria and other toxins that negatively impact the body.
We are consuming two, three or four meals a day. Our small intestine absorbs most nutrients from the food we eat and the remaining fiber moves to the colon. The food particle wastes leave a residue on the walls of both the small and large intestine and can accumulate over time. This affects future absorption as well as contributes to an environment habitable to opportunistic organisms. These waste products must be cleansed regularly to maintain good health.
Wave-like movements known as peristalsis help form and pass stool along. The muscles of the colon expand and contract around the matter as water is absorbed and stool is formed. The matter enters the colon from the small intestine at the ileo-cecal valve juncture located on your right side just in toward your navel from your hip bone. That is also just above your appendix. For reference, just ask a friend or two about their appendix-the scar marks the spot. Statistics show that 98,000 unnecessary appendectomies are performed every year. The matter enters as liquid referred to as chyme. As the colon absorbs the liquid a more firm stool is formed. This happens on what is considered the absorptive half of the colon, the right half. As this occurs chyme is forced against gravity up the right hand side of the abdominal cavity then turns in to our transverse colon. Usually about mid way through the transverse colon the chyme is more solid and about ready for elimination. On this left side of the colon we tend to store waste but ideally will pass it soon after receiving it.
When a colon is functioning optimally, there is a balance of 70 to 80 percent beneficial bacteria helping to synthesize vitamins. The entire transit time of foods from consumption to elimination is around 18 to 24 hours, meaning that waste is not stagnating in the colon. We absorb appropriately, form stool and eliminate efficiently and adequately.
In a healthy body, nutrients will absorb and waste will be eliminated completely within about 24 hours. Ideally, one should have as many bowel movements per day as meals. Rushing through our day overrides our body's normal reflex to defecate after eating. Failure to eliminate thoroughly and in a timely manner affects the balance of bacteria and leads to re-absorption of waste products that should have been passed out of the body. These re-absorbed wastes can poison the intestines and the rest of the body.
The three essential functions of life are:
Building tissue from food
Balance and maintenance
Proper elimination of waste.
We can only build healthy tissue from nutrition adequately provided and absorbed. As we eliminate waste we balance and maintain this cycle of growth. When we are not able to gain the nutrition from the food we consume due to improper choices for consumption, poor food combining and a stagnant system with a slow transit time, we compromise the perfect balance of life.
The cause of colon malfunction, including constipation, can generally be understood when we consider we live in a fast paced society where refined foods, starches and sugars with little or no fiber, fried or overcooked foods, and enzyme deficient foods dominate the dinner plate.
There are many other contributing factors leading to bowel problems – stress and inadequate exercise, overeating and having the stomach consistently full, and failing to heed the call of nature in due time.
As a culture, we routinely ignore the call of nature, as we rush through our day, overriding our body's normal reflex to defecate after eating. This trains our bowel to expand and retain, rather than expanding and contracting which enables the constant flow. This can stretch, contort and create an odd shape in which matter can lodge for long periods of time while some waste is eliminated.
When we fail to eliminate thoroughly and in a timely manner, changes in the balance of bacteria affect absorption of nutrients or toxins. An internal imbalance is often first recognized as constipation, bloating, gas, diarrhea, foul smelling stools or bad breath. These are the most common indicators of an unhealthy colon.
Understanding Your Role in Improving Your Colon Health
I believe that creating balance in all areas of our lives is important and with specific focus on bowel health by understanding and following a few basic guidelines.
Now that we understand how our lifestyles and food choices affect our digestive health, you have had a chance to think about your own health. We are now ready to connect colon conditions and improving your health and life.
Yes it is true that ideally we would eliminate for every meal that we consume. Let's make this a goal.
Enhancing the body's ability to eliminate waste can be a key addition to obtaining your optimal health goals. Colon hydrotherapy is a safe effective way to hydrate, encouraging our bodies in natural elimination. Both occasional and seasonal cleansing may be beneficial. When we reduce our toxic load, we are more responsive to our body's needs. We may overcome our addictions, cravings, abusive habits and create a greater life force. This revitalizes natural functions, empowers new lifestyle choices, and promotes true healing.
Cleansing the colon of waste through colon hydrotherapy has the added benefit of hydrating the colon, unlike over-the-counter products which may be irritating, and have a dehydrating and habit forming effect. Colon hydrotherapy may also provide therapeutic improvement in muscular tone by simulating an exercise medium in which the colon's muscular walls expand and contract. Working with a professional colon hydrotherapist has many added benefits. A therapist will customize a cleansing and strengthening program that is ideal for you. To find one in your area, search by location at the International Association of Colon Hydrotherapy (I-ACT) web site www.I-ACT.org.
At home consider some the ideas below to facilitate the retraining of your bowel in order to regain the perfect cycle and muscle tone. Keep in mind that our bodies may handle only a few changes at once. Although eventually incorporating all of these tips will be optimal, for now try a few and add more as you progress.
This program works based on the belief that peristalsis begins in the esophagus each time you swallow. We are attempting to "ride the wave", so to speak. You are encouraging the peristalsis that had already begun, to follow all the way through the digestive tract to the final stage of elimination. You are not evacuating what you just consumed rather something you consumed 18-24 hours prior to making room for the new, the fresh and the vital!
Good luck and enjoy!
- Think good thoughts while preparing and eating meals
- Always chew your food more than you think is necessary –
just when you think you have chewed it enough chew it until it is liquid
- Follow the Seven Basic Principles from The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates
- Within half an hour after every meal:
*Sit on the potty in a squatting position, rather than the normal position (this prevents blocking the colon in 2 parts and instead supports those 2 parts), by using a stool to balance and support yourself,
*take 3 deep breaths all the way down into your abdomen while,
*affirming yourself. Refer to the affirmations in You Can Heal Your Body by Louise L. Hay and chose your favorite in regard to digestive health, alter them, or make up your own. Continue to breathe deeply while,
*somewhat firmly stroking your abdomen in the direction that your colon passes material.
*Finish up with arm stretching- upwards, reaching one arm at a time for the stars, with each hand (6 total), inhaling as you bring your arm up and exhaling as you bring your arm down. This creates a pumping action that moves the waste out of the "nooks and crannies" and into the flow for release.
That's it! If you haven't had a bowel movement within that time (hopefully around 60 seconds total) then simply thank yourself, clean up and proceed with loving your life. Repeat within 30 minutes following every meal. Likely you will begin to have more frequent movements passing with greater ease, relieving you of the waste you no longer need.
- Another thing to try at home is rolling your foot around on a golf ball. Only you know where pressure feels best, plus you can do it anytime anywhere. Try it- it may be the difference between a bowel movement or not
- Use a mini trampoline to tone your muscles and stimulate your colon. A jog or other motion may replace this exercise
- Clean and hydrate your colon directly. Buy a 2 piece bulb syringe/enema bag kit and use them
- Drink fresh, clean, purified water (occasional use of lemon is good for alkaline balance)
- Use castor oil packs and fiber supplements
- When reshaping your colon, try using a slant board - get gravity working for you
- Also try a small block under the foot of your bed to slightly elevate your feet. Similar to the slant board effects, but more subtle. This is especially helpful when affected with hemorrhoids
- Visit your favorite colon hydrotherapist seasonally for educational, preventative and lifelong support.
Tara Alder is nationally certified and is an instructor with the International Association of Colon Hydrotherapy (I-ACT). Tara has enjoyed professional experience in the healing arts since 2000. Tara attends and teaches at health conferences and is an international speaker. Tara maintains continuing education hours annually staying current on recent health discoveries.
As a natural health coach with a holistic approach and a gentle nurturing touch, Tara believes that everyone deserves to live an extraordinary life with youthful vitality.
Alder Brooke Healing Arts in Eugene, Oregon and Alder Brooke Healing Waves in Kona, Hawaii are beautiful garden spas, education and retreat centers designed to meet your special needs. You are invited to experience the benefits of cleansing in our safe, comfortable and relaxed environment. Consultations and sessions are available by appointment for your specific concerns and questions.
Enjoy the free educational information on our website at www.alderbrooke.com and look for a therapist in your area. Plan to retreat with us in Eugene or Kona and let us help you design a health plan that is customized to your needs and applicable where you live and when you travel.
We can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aloha, and blessings of health and vitality!
Internal Cleansing Specialist
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