Since you can’t see it, it can lay there completely hidden, but causing cascading health problems. I’m talking about your digestive system – and of the rotting, decaying waste that may be trapped in it. If you are like many of my patients, this toxic element could slowly poisoning your health.
Many people are constipated and don’t even know it. They’ve been feeling tired, sluggish, bloated, irritated, and overweight for so long it begins to seem normal. Constipation may not even enter their thoughts. But it may be the cause of those symptoms. How about the opposite problem – diarrhea or bowel spasms? They can obviously by severely limiting issues to the lifestyle.
You may not like this statistic: More than 100 million Americans suffer from digestive disorders.1 Rather than laxatives, antacids or other drugs, the ideal way to cure these disorders is to get to the heart of the problem. And fix it, rather than covering it up.
A healthy, mobile digestive tract is essential to a healthy body. Problems here set the stage for a variety of complaints all through the body. Constipation is regarded by many experts as one of the biggest conditions that underlie health problems. It’s not hard to believe: rotting, partially digested food sitting for months and months in your intestines. People can have up to an amazing 15 pounds of old fecal matter trapped in their colons.
As awful as that sounds, the facts aren’t pleasant. Did you know that a backed-up colon prevents you from essential nutrients? And that the constant exposure to toxic sludge can leak into the bloodstream?
Read on regardless, but read on particularly if you don’t have at least two healthy bowel movements a day. That means you aren’t at 100%. Do you have urinary discomfort, poor blood circulation, joint pain and lower back discomfort? Those are just some of the issues that can spring forward.
As is the case for most health problems, you can take steps to help yourself recover, or prevent the problem in the first place. Here are some excellent tips for all I described above.
Think movement, think bulk: After eating, you don’t want waste going stagnant and toxic in your colon. The ideal transit time is just enough so that nutrients are absorbed properly. The best time is about 18 hours. In North America, the average time is about 38 hours.2 We need to focus on eating more fiber, which will drop this transit time and avoid stagnant waste. What fiber will also do is add moisture and bulk up your stools. That way they pass more quickly. Your stool should be soft, smooth and require no straining.
Relax the colon: Natural remedies are antispasmodic. That means they relieve spasms in your digestive tract. Certain herbs and foods contain natural plant chemicals that soothe bowel discomfort. Some of the best are alfalfa, fennel seed, peppermint leaf, barley grass, slippery elm, raspberry, parsley and prune juice.
Make wise choices: Natural choices are much better than synthetic chemical laxatives can disrupts your colon’s natural ability to contract. Laxatives notoriously can make the problems worse if used over the long term, as your body relies on them. Meanwhile, they can block your ability to absorb vitamins and minterals.3 Both fiber and natural phytonutrients can remove toxic chemicals and heavy metals from the intestine, before they are reabsorbed into your body’s tissues. Drugs can’t do that.
Seek balance: You want to seek a healthy balance between stools that are too firm versus too loose. For diarrhea, certain types of natural soluble fiber, such as apple pectin, could help gently restore regularity without – importantly – causing constipation later.4
That balance extends to the ever-important bacteria in your colon. After a round, say, of antibiotics, your intestinal flora are disrupted. Antibiotics kill bad bacteria, but they wipe out “friendly” bacteria too. You’ll need probiotic supplements to restore the friendly ones, whose positive elements are felt all across the body.
Once again, fiber: Soluble fiber relieves constipation, deflects diarrhea, improves digestion, supports healthy cholesterol, reduces fat, helps your heart and helps the slow and healthy absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. When soluble fiber mixes with liquid, it turns into gel. This is how it helps reduce diarrhea. Psyllium is the highest fiber source of any grain. Others include rice, pectin, oat bran and beet fiber.
On the flipside is insoluble fiber, which helps move food through the intestines in bulk form. It helps regular acid levels in the colon, work against constipation, keep bowel movements regular and speed up transit time.
Yours In Good Health,
Dr. Victor Marchione, M.D.
About the Author Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News and the NBC Today Show and is the editor of the popular The Food Doctor newsletter and is also the chief formulator at Bel Marra Nutritionals. He is also a contributor to the Doctors Health e-Bulletin, a free daily e-zine providing up-to-date health discoveries, advice and breakthroughs. For more information please visit www.doctorshealthpress.com
1 Life Extension Foundation, http://www.lef.org/protocols/prtcl-044.shtml
2. Group, Edward, Health Begins in the Colon: The Ultimate Guide to Cleansing Your Colon, Body, Mind & Home, Copyright © 2007, Global Healing Center, Inc., Houston, TX 77018, www.ghchealth.com
4. F. Becker, B.; Kuhn, U.; Hardewig-Budny, B. “Double-blind, randomized evaluation of clinical efficacy and tolerability of an apple pectin-chamomile extract in children with unspecific diarrhea.” Arzneimittelforschung 2006; 56(6):387-93.