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How the Colon Works

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     A healthy colon is essential to a healthy body. Conventional diets comprised of refined, processed foods, high in saturated fats and low in fiber contribute to many problems associated with the large intestine. The elimination of undigested food material and other waste products are as important as the digestion and assimilation of foodstuffs. Waste material allowed to remain stagnant in the colon results in decomposition of these substances and increases bacteria and toxins.

     The colon contains the largest concentration bacteria in the body. These bacteria provide important functions, such as the synthesis of folic acid, vitamins, and vitamin K from foods. Bacillus coli and acidophilus comprise the majority of the healthy bacteria in the colon, along the wither disease-producing bacteria in small numbers. Waste material allowed to stagnate alters the proportion of healthy bacteria to disease-producing bacteria and the potential for dis-ease exists. These bacteria decompose protein and carbohydrates, resulting in the production of toxins. Some of these toxins are thought to be absorbed and may be a potential source of dis-ease elsewhere in the body.

     The purpose of the colon as an eliminative organ is to remove this waste material by mass muscular contraction called peristalsis. Colon hydrotherapy provides therapeutic improvement of muscular tone, facilitating peristalsis and benefiting the tonic (sluggish) colon. The effects of a stagnant colon can be manifested in the form of constipation, halitosis (bad breath), skin blemishes, headaches, low back pain and lack of energy.

     The colon (large intestine) is a muscular tube approximately 5-6 feet in length and has an average diameter of 2.5 inches. The small intestine empties the contents of digestion (chyme) into the cecum or first portion of the colon. The colon starts on the lower right side of the abdomen with the cecum and outlines the borders of the abdomen. The ascending colon extends from the cecum to the liver, where it bends sharply to the left and crosses the abdomen as the transverse colon. At the level of the spleen, the descending colon continues down the left side of the abdomen to the pelvis, where it becomes the sigmoid region. The sigmoid colon empties into the rectum, where the waste material is eliminated through the anus.

     The contents of digestion (chyme) are moved along by mass muscular movements (peristalsis), which is initialized by the nerve supply to the colon. The main functions of the colon are absorption of water and minerals and the formation and elimination of feces. The process of digestion from ingestion of food to defecation normally takes between twelve and twenty-four hours.

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