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Feeling of well-being or lightness, stability of weight, stimulation of intellectual faculties, improvement of inflammatory conditions, health of the skin, prevention of diseases by the elimination of toxins, this is certainly an interesting picture! Know that all these benefits go hand in hand with good intestinal function. How many diseases or even the slightest discomfort, arise from an intestinal congestion! Stagnant waste passes into the blood and poisons the body. Modern life - unbalanced diet and stress especially - has a lot to do with the intestinal disturbances, in the form of constipation, diarrhea, colitis, flatulence, intestinal parasites, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis or colon cancer.
The large intestine, or colon, is the last part of the digestive system. This large, flexible gut, about the length of our waist, surrounds the small intestine. The colon has several sections:
- the cecum, which is the junction between the small intestine and the colon and the appendix, which is connected to it;
- the ascending colon, which runs along the right side of the abdomen and stops above the liver
- the transverse colon, which passes above the navel and joins the left side of the abdomen
- the descending colon, which goes down the left side and curves towards the center;
- the sigmoid, the S-shaped end of the descending colon
- the rectum, which is the terminal part of the colon and opens to the outside through the anus.
The colon is not just a tube for removing waste from digestion. It is also the site of a host of minerals and water, and is home to an extremely important microbial flora, whose two main roles are to destroy pathogenic bacteria and produce certain vitamins. Any disturbance of the intestinal flora is a health hazard. Since the digestion process normally takes about 20 hours, we should have at least one bowel movement a day.
Intestinal diseases are constantly on the rise in our western societies. A refined diet, characterized by a lack of fiber, disturbs and slows down intestinal transit. The extremely thin walls of the colon become irritated and permeable, allowing waste to enter the bloodstream and invade the rest of the body.
Often considered harmless, constipation is a very common condition. It is the slowing down of the progress of the faecal bowl, which can go as far as the impossibility of defecating.
In naturopathy, constipation is not only a difficult expulsion of stools or their hardness. For example, some people are constipated but still have a daily bowel movement; for example, you may have a daily bowel movement from the day before. This means that the feces stay in the colon too long, allowing toxins to pass through the thin intestinal wall, which is often made less resistant by a lack of essential fatty acids. This is why many constipated people suffer from headaches, skin problems, nervousness, etc. Many cancers occur as a result of long periods of chronic constipation.
Although there are many causes of constipation, diet is the most common one, especially the lack of fiber and water. A deficiency in bile secretion, stress and nervous exhaustion are also predisposing factors, not to mention a lack of physical exercise and the resulting weakening of the abdominal muscles, which impairs intestinal activity.
Constipation eventually irritates the intestinal mucosa, which reacts with diarrhea. It is therefore not uncommon to observe an alternation between the two conditions.
When the colon wants to quickly get rid of an excess of toxins that clogs it and irritates its walls, it resorts to a defense reflex: diarrhea. This is characterized by numerous and intense evacuations of liquids, which come in different forms and whose odors can be nauseating. Other causes include overeating, poor digestion, excessive nervousness, the side effects of certain medications such as laxatives, and inappropriate food combinations.
The appearance of the stool says a lot about the condition of the digestive tract. If the stool has a russet yellow color and is slightly viscous, the small intestine is irritated. On the other hand, the presence of brownish waste indicates a disturbance of the left colon, while acidic faeces with a foamy appearance and a yellowish color correspond to fermentations affecting the cecum.
Occasional diarrhea may occur as a result of intense emotional shock, sudden fear or acute anxiety. But whatever the cause, diarrhea, if prolonged, increases the irritation of the colon and is likely to develop into colitis.
Colitis occurs when irritation of the colon by toxins becomes chronic, causing inflammation of the intestinal lining. This condition can manifest itself in different parts of the large intestine, leaving traces of blood or pus in the stool. If this condition is prolonged, the walls of the colon become hardened, ulcerated and necrotic, slowly paving the way for the process of cancer. The main causes are a refined diet, stress and the use of antibiotics, which strongly destabilize the intestinal flora.
Without necessarily being of pathological origin, flatulence, or gas, reveals the presence of intestinal disturbances most often caused by poor digestion of food. But it also accompanies various conditions, such as constipation, diarrhea and colitis. If an unbalanced intestinal flora is often the cause, nervousness and aerophagia are also other factors. Flatulence can also be caused by repeated and prolonged food abuse. Consumption of salt, coffee, fried food, sugar and alcohol, smoking and sedentary lifestyle are all causes of intestinal gas.
These unwanted guests of the digestive tract come mainly from spoiled food. However, a colon that is clogged with waste, irritated or weakened is a breeding ground for intestinal worms. As their name indicates, they parasitize the body that hosts them by feeding on the intestinal contents, which causes diarrhea, colitis and many other inconveniences, such as migraines, nausea, fatigue and nervousness.
Dilatation of the veins of the rectum and anus, hemorrhoids are generally caused by constipation. This phenomenon acts on the one hand by requiring exaggerated efforts to defecate and, on the other hand, by giving rise to a stagnation of toxins in the region of the colon.
Diverticula are small pockets that develop on the walls of the colon where toxins and fecal waste accumulate. Diverticula can lead to cancer.
By Luc Mathieu, naturopath
published in Top Santé, April 1997
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