10 ways to care for your digestive health
How's your skin? Are you bloated right now? Honestly, when's the last time you went to the bathroom? I'm talking actual number two and have eliminated once or twice a day ...
If this is you, let's talk about the host of where the majority of these symptoms stem from ... our gut. Namely, our colon.
Excited? Or is it just me?
Either way, according to Hippocrates, "All disease begins in the gut." I'm pretty sure he's been spot on with this observation because, according to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and second cancer to cause death in, both, women and men. *long pause*
Okay, I'm not trying to scare you here. I just wanted to inform you of how important our gut health truly is.
Because the colon is the root to many of our health issues and critical to our overall wellness, it's extremely important to be knowledgeable of this vital organ along with how to keep it healthy. So I'm going to break it down the best I can.
You may be thinking, I've heard about the colon but what is it exactly? Well, it's known as the large intestine and is a part of our digestion system.
It begins at the cecum, ends at the rectum and consists of four parts: descending colon, ascending colon, transverse colon and sigmoid colon (like we're really going to remember those, right?) Basically, it's the last FIVE feet of your intestine ... yes, you read that correct, FIVE.
Image via WebMD
The colon, or large intestine, is the final piece of the digestion process. Its function is to reabsorb fluids, sort out waste products from the body, absorb vitamins/nutrients from good bacteria and prepare for its elimination.
Due to the Standard American Diet (SAD) consisting of: non-organic meats, unhealthy fats, processed foods/sugar, GMO ingredients, low fiber, etc, it's not surprising that our digestive system is constantly compromised.
A lot of gets stuck in our ascending colon because we don't have enough fiber, water, lack movement, etc. forcing the poop up into the transverse colon, therefore, it just gives up and makes its home there ...
As it continues to build up, the toxins from that stool begin to reabsorb into our bodies and pieces of stool get stuck in the divots of our intestine. So, no matter how healthy you eat, your nutritious food is not able to be absorb because it's being blocked off by old stool!
Here are some symptoms indicating that our digestive system may not be working as well as it should:
- Stomach ache
- Constipation (not going at least once a day)
- Skin issues (acne/dermatitis)
- Fatigue/brain fog
Are any of these ringing a bell? You can also see why happiness begins in the gut - who's actually happy walking around feeling any of these symptoms?
Now, these can typically cure themselves with R+R, like a gentle detox and/or clean eating but they can also be more of a concern if left unattended and lead to:
- Unbalanced gut flora
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
- Intestinal permeability (leaky gut)
But we honestly don't have to get to this point. These can be prevented if you take initiative early and do your best not to take your digestive health for granted - and here's how ...
Below I've listed 10 ways to maintain a healthy colon. Now, this isn't a list to point out what you're not doing and don't worry if you can't do these all at once; I don't want you to.
This is a gradual process that you introduce little by little each day. I do want you to remember it's progress, not perfection.
1 | Fiber-rich foods - think: seeds, quinoa, beans, legumes, nuts, avocado ...
2 | Water - I'm pretty sure I didn't need to mention this one but you want to try and get your body weight divided by two in ounces (example: if you're145/2 = 72.5 oz of water; a little more if you work out.
3 | Less red meat - Our digestive system has a harder time breaking down meat and it can sit in our colon for years ... yea, you don't want that.
4 | Less trans + saturated (bad) fat
5 | Exercise - your body naturally detoxes when we sweat! Not only does it help detox but it helps get your bowels going.
6 | Digestive enzymes - taking an enzyme before each meal will assist with the absorption of nutrients and break down protein.
7 | Pre/Probiotics + probiotic-rich foods - especially if you've had a recent round of antibiotics. You want/need to build up as much as the good bacteria as you can.
8 | Colonics - or colon hydrotherapy uses warm water to remove encrusted feces, gas and mucus in the colon.
9 | Reduce refined sugar
10 | Less stress + more relaxation - when you're in a tense, uneasy state, your digestive system will mimic the emotion. To try and avoid this, do your best to find a meditation practice for those stressful and overwhelming times in your life.
For those of you who want a little something right now to jumpstart the process, I've also provided a nice, colon detox juice to help cleanse and assist in getting things back in order.
- 1 tsp ginger juice (stimulates digestion, absorption of nutrients and eases constipation)
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (cleansing, vitamin C, stimulates digestion, balances pH levels)
- 1/2 c organic apple juice (stabilizes blood sugar and helps slow carbohydrate absorption)
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt
- 1/2 c warm, filtered water
1 | Combine and stir all ingredients.
2 | Drink one on an empty stomach first thing in the morning and repeat in the afternoon and evening.
Ladies (and men) don't be afraid to talk poop! It shouldn't be a taboo topic and even though you may not feel "sick" or deal with the symptoms often, it's still important to stay on top of our colon health. Without our gut health, we leave ourselves susceptible to be a host of preventable illnesses and diseases.
Due to my personal journey of managing adult acne and seeing more and more women (and men) dealing with, preventative, chronic illnesses and/or skin conditions, it's been so critical for me to share this information.