The Intestinal System
Lesson 7, Page 3 of 5

The correct answer is all of the above.

What Are the Keys to Colon Health?

1. Fiber

The colon works best when it has a lot of bulky material to push through. This makes the process of peristalsis easier and is the reason fiber, or roughage, is an essential ingredient in our diet. When there is sufficient fiber, the waste material moves through faster and easier. Fiber also absorbs many harmful fats and toxins that can contribute to colon cancer and carries them out of the body. (For more on this, see article on fiber.)

2. Water

Along with fiber, water is necessary to keep the stool soft so it can move through easier. When we don't drink enough water, the mucus lining in the colon changes in consistency—becoming thicker—and fails to provide a slick surface for the movement of material.

3. Proper Diet

A proper diet should consist mostly of fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, eggs,meat and some dairy. These supply fiber and protein as well as the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients needed to keep the colon, and the rest of the body, healthy. I don't recommend that you eat a lot of grains particularly those, such as wheat, that contain gluten. If you suffer from bowel disease, such as irritable bowel, Crone's Disease, etc., you should eliminate gluten from your diet because it is an irritant to the human digestive tract. It isn't necessarily an allergy to wheat or gluten, it's that it causes a type of contact enteritis leading to malabsorption of nutrients, leaky gut, and other problems. For complete details on what I consider a proper diet see the Dietary Guidelines.

4. Exercise

Exercise stimulates the colon and increases peristalsis. A sedentary lifestyle and improper diet are common causes of constipation and other colon problems.

5. Reduce Stress

When we are under excess stress, the entire digestive system tends to shut down. As a result peristalsis slows down.

6. Friendly Bacteria

Beneficial bacteria in our colons, or flora as they are sometimes called, perform functions that are very important for maintaining our health. These bacteria break down some of the materials that we can't digest and produce some important vitamins (some of the B vitamins and vitamin K—essential for blood clotting.) We then absorb these vitamins along with the water and electrolytes into our bloodstreams. These beneficial bacteria are also necessary for keeping the potentially harmful bacteria, such as E. Coli, in check. They also prevent yeast or candida overgrowth.

The normal colon should contain about 70 percent or more of the beneficial bacteria, and about 30 percent or less of the harmful bacteria. Some health experts have estimated that most Westerners have 70 percent or more of the harmful bacteria and 30 percent or less of the beneficial bacteria—just the opposite of what is required for optimal health. The chief reasons: 1) Improper diet, and 2) drug use—especially antibiotics.

Which of the following is not a key to colon health?
Proper Diet
Reduce stress
Friendly Bacteria
None of the above

(Select the best answer and click on the "Continue" button.)