The term “colon cleansing” is often the butt of many jokes. Who can forget the classic lines from Eddie Murphy’s Nutty Professor movies?
And yet, the old expression is true: death begins in the colon. Autopsies often reveal colons are plugged up to 80 percent with waste material.
For a person who eats a diet free of processed foods, it only takes 30 hours for a meal to pass through the body’s 15-foot-long garbage chute, according to Vegetarian Times March 1998 report, “The Lowdown on Colon Care” by Martin Zucker. But for the average American who eats his fair share of junk food, 48 hours is more likely.
The longer digested food sits in our intestines, the smaller it gets and the more difficult it is to expel. The colon turns into a toxic wasteland of harmful bacteria and carcinogens.
Developing good habits of eating fiber, drinking enough water and exercising while young will prevent a lifetime of troublesome intestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, gas, diverticulitis and colon cancer.
[FIBER IS OUR FRIEND]
Fiber, which is found in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds, is coarse, indigestible plant matter, also known as roughage. Human digestive enzymes cannot break it down. Instead, it absorbs moisture, grabs other food matter, makes stool softer and easier to pass.
[WADE IN THE WATER]
Some nutritionists advise drinking eight glasses a day. Some say six. Some say drink half your body weight. The point is: drink water. It’s the only way to keep your colon flushed and clean of those toxins.
"Water separates the sticky feces from the mucous lining of the colon," said Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, M.D., of Falls Church, Va., who has studied the effects of a lack of water in the body for 25 years. "It also stimulates a hormone that promotes the muscular movement of your intestines that moves food and waste through and out. A lack of water contributes to inflammation, irritation, diverticulitis, constipation, hemorrhoids and colon cancer. Drinking enough water can often eliminate constipation in a matter of days."
[ENERGIZE YOUR EXERCISE]
A Harvard study indicated that people with the highest level of physical activity had half the incidence of colon cancer than those who exercised the least.
The Los Angeles Times reports the Institute of Medicine recommends an hour of "moderate intensity" exercise each day to maintain health and weight. Some ways to meet that requirement is 60 minutes of brisk walking every day; 15-minute walks twice during the workday, such as during a coffee break and during lunch, plus a 30-minute walk in the evening; or 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise such as jogging, running or biking four to seven times a week.
Most religions and even native tribes practice the discipline of fasting. It can do wonders for the body (as well as the soul when coupled with prayer).
Some nutritionists recommend a process of detoxifying the body, ending in a fast. One practitioner, Martin Gallagher, D.C., of Jeannette, Penn., prescribes a 10-day treatment program that begins with patients eating only raw vegetables, fresh fruits, vegetarian soups, juices, distilled or mineral water (one to two quarts a day) and herbal teas. On the 10th day, they fast with distilled or mineral water. "I can’t really emphasize detox enough for the health of the colon and the health and vitality of the whole body," Gallagher said.
READ MORE LIFE | POST COMMENTS BELOW