Everett Clinic fellowship trained colon and rectal surgeon, Dr. Sara Worden, was featured in the Everett Daily Herald's "Good diet and lifestyle choices will benefit the colon."
The colon is a misunderstood organ — most people have heard of the colon, but many people do not understand the important tasks it performs in the human body.
A healthy adult colon is about six feet long and works to remove water from waste material before it leaves the body, as well as helping remove toxins and absorbing various vitamins and nutrients into the bloodstream.
Importance of good bacteria
Our colons are full of good bacteria. In fact, approximately 100 trillion organisms call our bowels home.
These bacteria in the gut fulfill a variety of important functions, such as aiding digestion, stimulating cell growth, blocking the growth of harmful bacteria, training the immune system to respond to disease-causing pathogens and defending against some diseases.
Sometimes the good bacteria in the gut die when you get an illness (such as the flu) or take antibiotics. When the good bacteria are killed, it upsets the balance in your colon, which results in diarrhea, since your colon can’t absorb water as it normally does. It can also cause an upset stomach.
A healthy colon
Bacteria are part of our normal intestinal environment and serve a very useful and vital purpose in our everyday body function. To make sure your colon is healthy and working at its full potential, here are some habits to keep in mind:
- Focus on probiotics, such as yogurt.
- Eat plenty of prebiotics, such as whole grains, onions, garlic, leeks and artichokes.
- Eat plenty of fiber (aim for 20-25 grams daily).
- Avoid fatty food.
- Control your stress.
- Don’t hold bowel movements.
- Drink water and other fluids for adequate hydration.
- Exercise regularly.
Get a colonoscopy screening if one is advised by your physician.