I know it’s not a topic discussed in polite society, however it’s one of our bodies most important functions. Dr. Oz talks about it all of the time on his show and it cracks me up. Our digestive tract is not only in charge of breaking down the food we eat but it plays a significant role in our immune response. How much you’re eliminating, when and what it looks like is a great indicator of your health status. This isn’t a new concept or something that science is just now uncovering. The Ancient Egyptians referred to the digestive tract as the river of life. Since their society was built on the Nile, meaning the giver of life, that’s a pretty significant statement.
They believed that most ailments could be traced back to the intestines. At some point in humanity’s journey to modernization that notion was lost to Western medicine. All things are cyclical. We’re starting to see a revival of the practice of cleaning out the bowels in order to restore health. Typically this comes in the form of cleanses to get the waste in our systems out. The Ancient Egyptians used medicinal herbs to treat ailments. And it worked.
The first thing to understand is why it’s important to keep the intestinal tract moving like a freeway at midnight instead of at rush hour – stopped up. There are 28 feet of intestines coiled up in our bodies. They are broken down into two major sections – large (7 feet) and small (21 feet). The large intestine’s, also known as the colon, job is to remove water from the waste resulting in stool and nerves communicate to the brain it’s time to go. The small intestine absorbs the nutrients from everything we eat and drink. At any given time the average American has 10-20 pounds or more of fecal matter in their system. The body is capable of holding about 25 pounds depending on height.
When people aren’t doing the number two on a regular basis (daily) the stored up fecal matter begins to release toxins into the body, it prevents the absorption of vital nutrients, causes weight gain and makes us sick. You can get the system moving in two ways. The first is movement. Our bowels react to exercise. The motion by which intestines move food through 28 feet of tubing is called peristalsis. And because the intestines are essentially muscles they are also activated when we exercise, this is why taking a walk after a meal aids in digestion. The second method is getting adequate fiber and ruffage/rouphage, the indigestible portion of plants. As the fiber travels through the tract it pushes out the waste with it. The trouble with a diet of fast foods, processed foods or high in bad fats is that they don’t clean the pipes so to speak. They also provide no nutrients. If you couple that with a sedentary lifestyle the “food” settles into the digestion tract, putrefies and starts giving off toxins. Those toxins can make us fat because the body uses fat tissue to store things it doesn’t recognize.
You should have to defecate daily and depending on your diet maybe twice daily. If you’re vegan or vegetarian that schedule may look different. If you’re going once a week check your diet and your amount of activity. The color and shape can give you some clues about the status of your health.
Color codes – always consult a physician for a proper diagnosis
- Brown – normal
- Red – lower GI bleed
- Green – Chron’s disease
- Yellow – Gallbladder disease
- White – pancreatic cancer
- Black – upper GI bleed
The shape can indicate disease or disorder in the colon. Ideally your stool should be a long oval shape. The size is important. A person with a typical Western world diet of fast and processed foods will have smaller and less frequent bowel movements. A person with a high fiber diet or regular use of a bulking agent such as psyllium husk will have larger and softer stools that are easier to pass.
Dr. Oz is my favorite when it comes to this topic, so check out his video on the basics. Share this information with your friends and comment below. We wan to hear from you.
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