Who wouldn’t love their colon? This 3-5’ long mass of tissue is filled with about 1 trillion of your best friends. Your gut microflora have many jobs including: assimilation of B vitamins and vitamin K; forming short-chain fatty acids (anti-cancer!); boosting your immune system; helping to regulate bowel movements; fighting the bad bugs; and supporting hormone detox (Bauman & Friedlander 2014). Let’s examine some ways we can keep our gut happy and healthy.
HEALTHY COLON = CLEANSE, PROTECT, & RENEW
CLEANSE Letting a bunch of poop, dead bacteria, and mucus hang out in our bowels for too long, isn’t good. Regular elimination is key in maintaining gut health (Mercola 2013). You can help keep the “flow” by increasing PUNGENT FOOD intake and foods high in FIBER. Pungent foods will help to disperse old mucus in the gut. These include alliums (the onion family), turnip, ginger, horseradish, cabbage, radish, daikon radish and white peppercorn. Fiber is the indigestible portion of plant material that not only binds to waste to help eliminate it, but it feeds the good bacteria so they can manage all of their responsibilities (Pitchford 2002). Finding fiber is easy: fruits, veggies, and legumes are great sources, specifically raspberries, mustard greens, turnip greens, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and Swiss chard. Additionally, you need to exercise to get your bowels moving. Adding moderate physical exercise has shown a 50% decrease in colon cancer by encouraging peristalsis (whfoods.org). Keep in mind, if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) a lot of these awesome foods could irritate your stomach and cause pain, bloating, and diarrhea. Best to avoid them until you've healed your tummy.
PROTECT Protecting the lining of the gut will help inhibit viruses and aid in the digestion of fats and proteins. Important because excess of these nutrients in the gut has been linked to colon cancer. Foods rich in BETA-CAROTENE, especially green varieties, will be your protective warriors to do just that. Good sources include: carrot, winter squash, pumpkin, broccoli, parsley, kale, turnip, and mustard greens, watercress, wheat or barley grass, common green, blue-green, and golden micro-algae, and herbs yerba santa leaf, mullein leaf, and nettles (Pitchford 2002).
RENEW It’s essential to build the integrity and to improve the mucus membranes of the gut lining, as well as to keep it teaming with healthy microflora (Guyenet 2009). You can do this by eating MUCILAGINOUS foods, CULTURED and/or FERMENTED foods, foods high in BUTYRATE (butter and ghee!), PREBIOTICS (natural food sources that feed the bugs and include chicory, sunchoke, alliums, legumes bananas, peas, burdock, asparagus) and PROBIOTICS. Some mucilaginous foods to get you started are seaweeds and certain herbs and seeds. For example kombu, marshmallow root, flaxseed, and fenugreek.
THE FINAL SPREAD
Unhealthy gut is linked to breast disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, auto-immune diseases, appendicitis, colon cancer, diverticulosis, diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids, etc (Murray). A healthy gut can mean a great immune system, beautiful skin, less discomfort, and less disease (Douillard 2013). Take it slow and have patience. An unhealthy gut didn’t get that way in a day, it will take time for it to heal. Eat good food and include moderate exercise often. Your “best friends” will thank you.
Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014). Foundations of nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College.
John Douillard’s LifeSpa. (2013, Dec). Colonics: Yea or nay? Retrieved from http://lifespa.com/colonics-yea-nay/
John Douillard’s LifeSpa. (2013, Feb). Top Ten Reasons to Cleanse with Ghee. Retrieved from http://lifespa.com/top-ten-reasons-cleanse-ghee/
Mercola.Com. Take Control of Your Health. (2010, Jul). What you see in the toilet can give you valuable insights into your health. Retrieved from: http://articles.mercola.com/ sites/articles/archive/2013/02/14/normal-stool.aspx
World’s Healthiest Foods. Colorectal Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=disease&dbid=10
(3rd ed.). Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with whole foods. Asian traditions and modern nutrition (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
(2nd ed.) Pizzorno, Murray. The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Medicine. (2nd ed.). Guyenet, S. (2009, Dec). Whole Health Source; Nutrition and Science. Butyric acid: an ancient controller of metabolism, inflammation and stress resistance? Retrieved from: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/12/butyric-acid-ancient-controller-of.html?m=1