Also known as the large intestine, the colon is a key component of the digestive system. When partially digested food enters the lower gastrointestinal tract, it arrives at the small intestine, where many nutrients are absorbed. The process continues into the colon, which is wider in diameter but shorter in length than the small intestine. Here water and sodium, along with some vitamins, are extracted, as solids pass through the four sections of the colon: Ascending, transverse, descending and sigmoid. The movement of digested food in the large intestine is slow, allowing beneficial microorganisms called gut flora to ferment the remaining matter before sending it along to the rectum as waste to be eliminated.
In part because the colon is where stool is formed and stored until elimination from the body, it is associated with toxins and related health concerns. Studies have shown that approximately 65 million people in the United States have recurring digestive concerns that affect the large intestine, including constipation, diarrhea and bowel irritation. Additionally, millions of more Americans have colon concerns that may be considered more significant.
For those who have even relatively minor intestinal difficulties, both days and nights may be determined by the inconvenient and uncomfortable nature of these issues. Concerns affecting the large intestine may also have unexpectedly far-reaching effects, since about 80% of the body's immune system is situated in the gastrointestinal tract. For these reasons and more, a healthy colon is considered to be crucial for general well-being.
A well-balanced diet that features abundant fiber can promote colon health. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) recommends consuming 25-30 grams of fiber per day, but the average American often only gets 11 grams daily. Foods with plentiful amounts of dietary fiber include whole-grain products, fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts.
There are many natural supplements available that can gently support intestinal wellness.** Specific compounds that promote various aspects of colon health include:
Fiber: Psyllium husk, apple pectin, oat bran, inulin. Dietary fiber is crucial to ideal general well-being and assists with digestive function.** These botanically derived kinds of fiber absorb water, helping to maintain colon wellness by encouraging comfortable digestion, internal cleansing and easy waste elimination.**
Probiotics: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus salivarius, Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium bifidum. Probiotics, particularly Lactobacillus acidophilus, are forms of "good" bacteria that support healthy digestion and colon function, including consistent bowel movements.** These microorganisms also reinforce the gut flora of the colon to aid in upholding immune system wellness.**
Digestive Enzymes: Papain (papaya), bromelain (pineapple), amylase, pancreatin. These and other digestion-promoting enzymes, many of which are plant-sourced, help to break down food in the gastrointestinal tract so the body can more efficiently absorb nutrients.**
Colon Cleansers: Cascara sagrada, buckthorn, goldenseal, activated charcoal. Colon cleansing involves clearing unwanted and non-beneficial matter from the large intestine, often with traditionally used herbs. Keeping the colon free of undesirable material may help to maintain regular bowel movements and general health.**
Natural Laxatives: Prune, senna, slippery elm, uva ursi. Laxatives from botanical sources may ease constipation and support consistent bowel movements, benefiting colon wellness.** Many of these plant nutrients have a long history in various health traditions.
Digestive Aids: Peppermint, betaine HCl, aloe vera. These herbs and compounds can help to encourage comfortable digestion, soothe gastric distress and help with gas and bloating in the lower gastrointestinal tract, including the colon.**
Colon Health Products
Colon health supplements are often sourced from plants and available in a variety of forms, including capsules, softgels and tablets. These products are also sometimes offered as powders and liquids.
Colon Health Products Directions for Use
Consulting with your health care practitioner before taking these natural supplements is recommended. There is no standard amount; refer to individual products for their suggested usage. Capsules may range from 50 mg to 1,500 mg, depending on specific active ingredients.