Every year following the holidays, people commit to improving their health or losing weight through a variety of diet and exercise programs. With all good intentions they begin these new, year resolutions full force, only to give up after a few short weeks. I’ve been there too. The reason for the failure is simple, short-term, extreme health regimes do not result in long-term, super health results. It just doesn’t work!
It’s all about making choices and lifestyle changes that you must commit to long term. Plus you need to understand that for every year it took you to gain that excess weight, or to obtain that chronic health problem, it will take a long time to reverse it. You need patience, perseverance, and determination, taking action to achieve these long-term goals.
A healthy gut is considered one of your number one keys to super health and longevity. The health of your gut is dependant on what you do to achieve the results you expect long-term. When I’m referring to a healthy gut, I am mainly focusing on the last five feet of your digestive tract, also referred to as the large intestine; or the bowel; or the colon, which we refer to it here. So, to put it simply, good gut health is as much a function of our ability to eliminate waste, as the quality of the food we eat.
“Why can’t high quality food be the single solution for optimal colon health?” Although what you eat or put into your body is most definitely at the top of the list for optimal health, it can’t be the only component. Exercise, rest, sunshine, balancing stress, balancing hormones, being hydrated, are all important components to optimal health of both your gut and your entire body’s well-being.
The colon functions a lot like your brain. In fact, it’s considered your “second brain,” and for good reason. Within the walls of your gut resides an enteric nervous system that controls your digestion, and plays a major role in your physical and mental well-being. In fact, numerous diseases and illnesses, including some brain disorders, such as depression, Parkinson’s, and quite possibly autism, can be a direct result of the health of your colon. This enteric nervous system has been shown to use more than 30 neurotransmitters, just like the brain. In addition, at least 95 percent of the body's serotonin is found in the bowels. So when you feel bad, more than likely you feel it in your gut – pun intended.
You probably thought the main function of the colon was to eliminate waste. Well technically, that is a major function of the colon, but to be considered a “second brain” there’s a lot more to it than just that. The second brain consists of sheaths of neurons within the walls of the long tube of the gut, which measures over 29 feet from the esophagus to the anus. Some studies show that this second brain contains over 500 million neurons, and other studies state around 100 million neurons, more than the spinal cord or within the peripheral nervous system. These neurons enable us to feel within our gut and its contents, specifically for the constant use and abuse of daily digestion.
Digestion requires so much energy; from breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, expelling waste; all part of a chemical processing, and mechanical mixing of muscle contractions which move all these “digesting” particles down the line. If there are any “mechanical or chemical” breakdowns during this process you will definitely know it. When the body is stressed, or foods don’t digest properly, the colon reacts with symptoms of upset stomach, gas, bloating, belching, constipation, diarrhea, and in some cases disease. “You will know when digestion does not go well. You will know immediately. What you do about it is another matter.”
We know that the brain (in your head) is considered a muscle; well, so is your colon. Just like the muscles throughout your body, and your head, the colon needs to be maintained as well. You need to properly exercise your colon. Part of this process is through proper diet, and elimination. For instance, stress and inadequate exercise, overeating, and constantly keeping your stomach full, and not letting it rest; and most importantly, failing to eliminate when your colon wants to do so all contribute to the health of your colon.
Refusing to go when your colon is ready to eliminate is detrimental to your colon’s health. That’s like not letting your brain rest by sleeping, resulting in brain fog and confusion. When you refuse to eliminate you are conditioning your bowel to expand and retain, when it should be expanding and contracting for proper flow. This can lead to stretching, and contorting, creating odd shapes causing food particles and toxins to possibly lodge itself within these pockets for long periods of time rotting and fermenting, instead of it being eliminated through the proper waste process. This results in serious imbalances within the bacteria, causing poor absorption of nutrients or toxins. This also contributes directly to constipation, bloating, gas, foul smelling feces, bad breath, and the like. “How is that healthy?”
Something else to consider, when the colon is functioning optimally, there is a balance of beneficial bacteria which aids in the absorption of the vitamins consumed. The amount of beneficial bacteria found in the average healthy colon is about 70 to 80 percent. Obviously, if you want to retain higher levels of good bacteria, you need to consumer a higher quality diet, in addition to practicing proper elimination. Just to give you an idea of the time involved to digest food, the whole process should take about 18 to 24 hours from consumption to elimination. This means that no waste is blocked or slowly flowing through the colon. If you eat a plate of food, you should eliminate a plate’s worth of waste or close to it.
If you are constantly consuming slow moving foods, keeping your stomach past the full mark with no room for rest, and not taking the time to “to let it all out”, then there is no way that digestion can take 18 to 24 hours to properly and fully absorb the good stuff, and eliminate all the bad stuff. There’s not enough time or energy for that. Besides the bloating, constipation, belching, and tummy ache, you begin to pollute your cells with toxins creating fat on your body, weight gain, poor water and nutrient absorption. This can only result in turning you into a malnourished, sick and tired, overweight, grumpy, miserable beast! Nobody wants that.
With a better understanding of the connection between a healthy colon and overall health, to truly obtain this higher level of vitality and wellness we need to focus on the strategy. The goal is to achieve premium colon health. So instead of the usual New Year’s resolutions, mine is to “reboot” my colon health. I have already started working towards this goal through a series of detoxification and cleansing regimes. I am working towards changing my actual behavior towards my daily diet habits, including how and when I eat, and when I eliminate; managing my stress both physically and mentally, and of course, including a much higher quality of food and supplements. These changes include removing those foods from my diet which my body can not tolerate under any circumstance; consume more high quality plant-based, water-rich foods, not over eating, daily fasts to provide my digestion with rest, and looking at food differently in order to handle cravings for those foods which do not serve me well. This is also in addition to proper and regular exercise, rest and relaxation, and good hydration. I continue to exercise several times a week, including participating in a yoga class weekly.
“This is a lifestyle change!” Diet and exercise goals should not be limited to a two-week extreme program to shed a few pounds, only to gain it back immediately. The idea is to create new habits and retrain your brains and body to create the health you deserve to have from this point forward. You need to feel it in your gut! The revelation is the resolution should start there – in your gut!
Check back for supporting articles that focus on specific actions you can take to support colon health.
Peace!:) Debbie Marsh
Author/Publisher Note: The articles and information published on this site/blog are not intended to cure or give medical advise. The intention is to educate, inform, and empower readers to make their own decisions on health and well-being. The author/publisher does not advocate the use of any particular healthcare protocol but believes the information in this article and website should be available to the public for informational purposes only. The publisher and author are not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of the suggestions, preparations, or procedures discussed in this article or throughout the site. Should the reader have any questions concerning the appropriateness of any procedures or preparation mentioned, the author and publisher strongly suggest consulting a professional healthcare advisor.
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