The colon is a long, hollow tube at the end of the digestive tract. Also called the large intestine, the colon absorbs water from stool, turns the liquid waste to a solid waste and stores the stool until it is expelled through the rectum. The function of the colon can be impaired by cancer as well as a variety of disorders such as diverticulitis. There are some ways to maintain colon health.
Unlike other food components, fiber is not absorbed by the body and passes relatively unchanged through the digestive tract. A diet that consists of both insoluble fiber found in wheat bran, whole-wheat flour and nuts and soluble fiber found in oats, peas and carrots normalizes bowel movements. The additional benefits of fiber are a decreased risk of developing diverticular disease and possibly, colorectal cancer.
Dehydration is one cause of constipation. Drinking water daily adds fluid to the colon, bulk to the stool and makes bowel movements softer and easier to pass. Coffee, colas, other drinks containing caffeine and alcohol lead to dehydration. Balance an intake of these types of beverages with water or juice to keep well hydrated.
Limit Intake of Red Meat and Processed Meat
Research confirms a positive correlation between the high consumption of red meat and processed meats that contain nitrates, such as hot dogs and the development of colorectal cancer. Limit your intake of these types of meats. Alternate healthy sources of protein are poultry, fish, tofu and beans.
The benefits of the beneficial microorganisms known as probiotics include the treatment of diarrhea and relieving the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, several small studies suggest that certain probiotics may help maintain remission of ulcerative colitis and prevent relapse of Crohn’s disease. Check the ingredient label of yogurt since some brands do include beneficial bacteria to promote colon health.
Avoid Colon Cleansing
Avoid colon cleansing unless it is prescribed by a physician as a bowel preparation for a medical procedure such as a colonscopy.