A healthy bowel is paramount to a healthy body; when it's clean and in a healthy condition, our other organs are, as a rule, healthy. FOLLOWING THE COLON THROUGH THE BODY
After food passes through your stomach and small intestine, what's left is mainly liquid waste. This waste progresses to your colon. Your colon is nearly two metres long and begins at the cecum, the lower right hand corner of your abdomen. Attached to the cecum is the appendix, which looks like a worm-shaped tube. The colon goes up along the right side of the abdomen (ascending colon) and travels up to the ribs (just below the liver), from there it makes a left turn across the abdomen (transverse colon). When it reaches the lower ribs on the left side it turns and goes down (descending colon). Once more it turns to the middle of the lower abdomen and forms an s shape (sigmoid colon). Here, waste material is emptied into the rectum, which stores the waste until contractions in the large intestine encourage a bowel movement.
When it's not functioning properly, the colon starts absorbing toxins instead of eliminating them causing problems like headaches, mental confusion, depression, irritability, bloating, constipation, gas, weight gain, low energy, fatigue and allergic reactions like hives. It can also lead to other more chronic illnesses.
Most food we eat today is loaded with additives, preservatives and chemicals. These are difficult for the body to digest and create a build up of mucous in the colon, producing toxins that poison the body.
Colon cleansing can get rid of harmful toxins; promote healthy intestinal bacteria and improve the body's absorption of vitamins and nutrients, it can also increase energy levels. Many cleansing regimes are available but the best options are usually simple, natural, home and herbal remedies, with no side effects.
5 Tips for a clean and healthy colon
1. Water ' the magical potion
For a clean and healthy colon, the best thing you can do is drink plenty of water. Eight to ten glasses a day is essential, even if you are not thirsty. Regular consumption provides the lubrication needed to flush out harmful toxins and waste and stimulate natural peristaltic action, helping food move through the digestive system. Water is essential for hydration and to keep organs functioning properly. Along with water, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, coconut water, and liquid foods are also good.
TIP: Have warm water with freshly squeezed lemon and a teaspoon of honey first thing in the morning. This detoxifies the body and boosts your metabolism facilitating proper bowel movement.
2. Apples ' Nature's Doctor
'An apple a day, keeps the doctor away', is very apt when it comes to the colon. Fresh apples and freshly squeezed apple juice encourages bowel movements, breaks down toxins and improves the health of the liver and digestive system. Use an apple cure as a colon cleansing regime.
' Start your morning with a glass of unfiltered apple juice and, after 30 minutes, drink a glass of water. Do this several times throughout the day and continue for 3 days. In between, you can also drink a glass of prune juice. It's advisable to avoid solid food when following this route.
3. Fruits and vegetables
As an everyday measure, eat food high in fibre. Fibre helps the colon remove harmful toxins, soften stools and improve bowel movements encouraging the body to expel waste products. Fibre-rich foods also help heal intestinal problems. You can increase your fibre consumption by eating fresh fruits like raspberries, pears, prunes and apples, and fresh vegetables like spinach, artichokes, peas and broccoli. Cereals, whole grains, nuts, beans and seeds also contain fibre.
Yoghurt, with live and active cultures is a probiotic that introduces 'good' bacteria into the gut. It helps digestion and calms inflammatory bowel conditions. Its calcium content discourages the growth of cells lining the colon. Intestine-friendly yoghurt is good for indigestion, flatulence, irregular bowel movements and much more. Eat it as is, or add fresh apples, bananas and berries.
5. Raw vegetable juices
While on a colon cleanse, it's beneficial to avoid processed and cooked food for a few days. Instead of solid food, drink fresh vegetable juice several times a day. Vegetable juices contain sugars that improve bowel movement. Green vegetables, in particular contains chlorophyll that helps remove toxins while the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and enzymes keep the body healthy and energized. Ready-made vegetable juices don't have effective enzymes to help your body break down and remove waste products so make sure you drink freshly juiced variations. Include ingredients like carrots, beets, corn, squash, spinach, kale, celery, parsley and ginger.
Throughout human evolution, food has been our medicine. Traditionally, we've always included herbs, many of which have healing properties that affect the digestive system. Although medicinal herbs have many of the nutrients we need ' they shouldn't replace a well rounded diet of high quality good grains, vegetables, and fruits. Colon cleansing herbs are popularly used as an effective method to cleanse the colon. Pre-mixed formulas, single herbs or a combination of several herbs together rejuvenate and restore intestinal health. Herbs have been used safely for centuries and work a little slower than enemas or colonics but will achieve good results.
Choosing the right herb is important. Some, like Cascara Sagrada and Senna work like a laxative and can be used to flush the colon and release waste, while other herbs like Peppermint stimulate digestion and peristalsis and soothe the intestines. Some perform a scrubbing action that eliminates faecal matter and prevents toxic build up, and others kill harmful bacteria and parasites. There are also those that soften the stool, add bulk and improve the function of colon muscles to promote healthy and regular bowel movements. Many pre-mixed combinations include additional herbs that help flush and enhance the functioning of the liver and or kidneys. Most include herbs that promotes bile flow and stimulate the liver. Herbal colon cleansing products come in a variety of different forms including tea, tinctures, extracts, leaf, capsules or powders.
Useful herbal remedies:Psyllium
Psyllium husk is probably the most popular colon cleansing herb because of its high fibre content and ability to strengthen the intestinal lining. It contains mucilage which, when travelling through the digestive tract, absorbs water and swells making the stools in the colon bulkier. This triggers contractions of the colon walls that lead to bowel movements. Psyllium can be taken one to three times daily with plenty of water.
Flaxseeds are rich in Omega '3 fatty acids, antioxidants and natural fibre that help cleanse your colon naturally. They absorb water and expand in the colon, removing toxins and mucus.
This 'all-purpose herb' is effective for both constipation and diarrhoea. It normalises the stool and soothes, coats and heals the lining of the intestines. Drink lots of water with it.
Aloe Vera detoxifies and has laxative properties. It soothes and heals the intestinal lining, helps restore acid/alkaline balance and promote healing. Besides the colon, it improves other health conditions like headaches, diarrhoea, constipation, skin infection and gastric pain. Drink it a few times during the day.
Ginger helps reduce bloating, stimulate colon function, improve digestion and help flush out waste and harmful toxins. Add grated ginger root to herbal or green tea.
Cayenne pepper is detoxifying and helps break up mucous accumulated in the colon. Have some with warm water and honey or add it to your meals.
Fennel enhances digestion, reduces gas, relieves lower abdominal pain, flushes the colon and releases waste.
' Before starting a cleansing regime, consult your health care practitioner, especially if on medication or you have a health condition.
' Be mindful - improper colon cleansing can lead to conditions like anemia or malnutrition.
' Fasting is one of the most highly effective methods as it helps the body systems recuperate and eliminate toxins. Stay hydrated though with water, and fruit or vegetable juices.
' Liquid food like soups, herbal teas, vegetable broth and juices, rather than solid food will help speed up cleansing.
' A diet devoid of saturated fat, sugar, processed food, oils and fried food helps maintain a clean colon while foods like garlic, onions and bananas kill harmful bacteria and parasites in the colon. Live culture yoghurt promotes beneficial bacteria.
' Regular exercise helps bowel function. Walk, run, jog, cycle or do yoga or Pilates.
' Work at feeling emotionally balanced. Stress interferes with your ability to clean your colon through its effect on your enteric nervous system. Find ways to minimise your stress response.
Dr Roshan Hendricks works as a consultant to Wellness Warehouse, she's a trained Phytotherapist and completed a five year degree course in BSc (CHS), BCM (Phyt). Phytotherapists are trained in herbal medicine and use the same diagnostic skills as orthodox doctors. They use a holistic approach to treating disease with herbal prescriptions to restore the balance of the body and mobilise the body's innate healing powers. Diet and advice on lifestyle are a big part of phytotherapy that looks at treating the cause of disease not only the symptoms.
“Wellness Warehouse strives to help you live life well but because we are retailers and not medical practitioners we cannot offer medical advice. Please always consult your medical practitioner before taking any supplements, complementary medicines or have any health concerns and ensure that you always read labels, warnings and directions carefully, prior to consumption.”