The Large Intestine: Everything You Need to Know About Gut Health

7 minute read

Your body is a miraculous thing and it takes a lot of working parts to make it function smoothly. Some of those parts we’re very familiar with, others are a bit more of a mystery. The large intestine is typically one of those parts that we know is important, but it’s not understood by everyone.

Knowing how your large intestine works is the first step in understanding its importance. From there, it’s clear that your intestinal health is vital to your overall health. The steps after that are to improve the current health of your intestines and continue to support it in the future.

How Does the Large Intestine Work

Your intestines, both large and small, wind from the stomach to the anus and are used to digest food, extract needed nutrients, and move the resultant waste products out of the body.

This is usually common knowledge where common knowledge ends, but the large intestine has many more responsibilities in the body and works hard to keep you healthy on a daily basis.

In the right side of the body, the small intestine feeds into the large intestine. The large intestine is further broken down into the cecum, the appendix, the colon, and the rectum. Each area has its own duty to perform and has to work in conjunction with the others.

Cecum: The cecum’s main job is to absorb fluids and salts as food passes from the small intestine to the large one.

Appendix: For a long time, it was believed that the appendix no longer played an important role in the human body, which is why people with appendicitis could have it removed with little side effects.

We now know that the appendix does have a function. In the fetus and young adults, the appendix houses endocrine cells that are necessary for biological control. In adults, until the age of 60, it’s now believed that the appendix functions as a lymphoid organ assisting with immune functions.

Colon: The colon further breaks down into different regions that have their very own responsibilities. In whole, the colon uses “good” bacteria that live there to further break down what has been digested so it can absorb water and electrolytes, produce and absorb vitamins, and eventually form and propel feces through the body.

Proper colon function is dependent upon bacteria that live in the gut and protect it while also providing vitamins through fermentation. Vitamins K and B, including biotin, are produced in the colon and then absorbed by the blood to nourish the body.

Rectum: The rectum connects the colon to the anus and its job is to alert the body that stool is ready to be evacuated.

Improve Your Large Intestine Health Today

There are many different diseases that can occur in the large intestines, including cancer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticular disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and others. The good news is you can start improving your large intestine health immediately and in a few different ways.

Add a Probiotic

Maintaining a healthy level of gut bacteria is crucial to digestion and your health. If your body is already out of balance, then adding a high-quality probiotic supplement is key.

Regular consumption of a probiotic supplement supports digestive and immune health by creating a healthy microbiome and then maintaining it.

Eat Differently

A diet geared toward intestinal health is one that is high in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in red and processed meats. The following tips can help you fuel up in a way that makes your intestines happy:

Meat choices: Red meat and processed meats, like bacon and hotdogs, need not be entirely eliminated, but they should be limited to a couple times per week at most.

Sugar-free: Sugar has not been directly connected to colon cancer, but it is connected to ulcerative colitis. It’s also been found that people with high-sugar diets are more likely to be obese.

More fiber: Fiber has always been associated with colon health because of its ability to bulk up your stool and make it easier to process. Fiber-rich vegetables and fruits are a good way to add fiber. If you’re looking to add fiber through grains, just make sure you are focused on the healthier, whole grains.

Avoid High-Risk Lifestyle Choices

One of the biggest concerns with your intestinal health is colorectal cancer, the third deadliest cancer in the United States. There is a strong connection between obesity and colon cancer. There are a few different reasons why obesity or being overweight can contribute to certain cancers, but losing weight and exercising are great first steps to improve your health overall.

| Related: Natural Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis Flare-Ups |

It’s also known that your family history, previous polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, smoking, and heavy alcohol use can contribute to the development of cancer in the intestines. While you can’t do anything about your family history and previous illnesses, you can stop smoking and quit or reduce your alcohol use.

How to Support Colon Health in the Future

Colonoscopies are an important part of your large intestine health. One of the best things you can do for your body is to get a regular screening as frequently as your doctor recommends. This test can find polyps and test to see if they’re cancerous in the early stages. The quicker you attend to a potential cancer risk, the better.

Continue eating a healthy diet and taking a probiotic supplement to further support your intestinal health. This dietary change is good for your entire body, not just your intestines, so it’s not uncommon to notice more energy, a stronger immune system, weight loss, and a general feeling of well-being.

If you’re making some other lifestyle choices, like exercising, quitting smoking, and cutting back on alcohol, you might find that getting support makes it easier. You’re not alone, and having others who are making big changes with you can help.

The Bottom Line

Your large intestine is responsible for moving food through your body and transforming it from a nutrient-rich compound to waste. In the process, it absorbs much of the water and nutrients and even creates some vitamins on their own.

From beginning to end, your large intestine is a very important part of your health and deserves your support. You can start today by changing some of your lifestyle habits, losing weight, and focusing on eating more on fresh fruits and vegetables rather than sugar and red meats.

Adding a probiotic is another way you can boost your intestinal health by balancing the good bacteria in your body. Taking this supplement regularly helps keep your intestines and the rest of your body healthy.

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