Intestinal Cleansing & Your Health

The intestines are the part of the body responsible for digestion. Our intestines begin at the stomach and end at the anus, are almost 25 feet long (yes, 5 times the height of our body!) and are divided into two sections: the small intestine and the large intestine.

The small intestine is responsible for the digestion of our food, and the large intestine is involved in the elimination of digestive waste products. Toxification can occur in either intestine, and an intestinal cleansing program can be tailored to detox the small intestine, the large intestine or both. The intestines play critical roles in the body's immune and detoxification systems. Understanding these roles can help a person grasp the connection between good diet, good digestion and good health. According to Dan Lukaczer, N.D., in an article called "Gastrointestinal Health and Disease" published in December 1996 issue of Nutrition Science News, "A substantial body of research has shown that incomplete, imbalanced and dysfunctional digestive processes may be associated with a wide variety of serious diseases ranging from colitis and cancer to asthma and arthritis."

Digestion begins in the mouth. Chewing food well is undoubtedly the easiest way to improve digestion. The process continues in the stomach. It's important to remember that not all food is digested in the same place, nor with the same enzymes. This is why the concept of food combining, an awareness that teaches how to reduce the simultaneous ingestion of foods that are digestively incompatible, can be very helpful to persons who have digestive problems. Ultimately that will be most of us, as our production of digestive acids declines with age.

After leaving the stomach, partially digested food enters the small intestine, where the majority of digestion and absorption takes place. Bile, manufactured by the liver, the body's primary organ of detoxification, and stored in the gallbladder, is secreted through the bile duct into the small intestine and begins to break down fats into small components. Hormones in the bloodstream are activated by the entry of food into the small intestine and stimulate release of pancreatic enzymes into the small intestine. These enzymes break down proteins into amino acids, carbohydrates into sugars and fats into fatty acids. At this stage in a healthy body, food has become molecules small enough to be properly absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestinal wall.

Because an autoimmune condition can then wreck havoc on an individual's endocrine system, which regulates the function of the entire body, resolving the health problems that can result from yeast infections and leaky gut syndrome can be complex. A licensed holistic health care practitioner is definitely warranted. In the meantime, a personal detoxification program can minimize the load on an individual's liver and thereby help improve immune function.

Intestinal cleansing is very helpful for prevention of intestinal diseases such as constipation, indigestion, Irritable bowel syndrome, colitis or Chrohn's disease.

Cleansing the Small Intestine

The small intestine needs to be clean and functioning properly in order to process and absorb the nutrients in our food. The small intestine is stressed from improper food combinations, lack of digestive enzymes, overeating and the consumption of processed foods and junk foods. Mucus congestion in the small intestine often results and this congestion hampers the absorption of nutrients of our food. Intestinal cleansing that is targeted for the small intestine focuses on the break down and elimination of mucus.

Two excellent allies for intestinal cleansing of the small intestine are pepsin and marshmallow root. Pepsin is a digestive enzyme produced in the stomach. It is a protein digesting enzyme that can break down mucus in the digestive track. Marshmallow root is a mucilaginous herb that herbalists consider both a food and a medicine. Marshmallow root reduces inflammation in the small intestine, absorbs toxins, encourages the growth of good bacteria and has a moistening effect on the tissue in the digestive track. Several herbal companies sell a pepsin-marshmallow root combination that is easily taken in capsule form.

Cleansing the Large Intestine

The large intestine is, in fact, the colon. When we talk about intestinal cleansing of the large intestine, we are referring to colon cleansing. The value of colon cleansing cannot be overstated because the colon is the body's sewer system. Not only do our internal toxins and waste products end up in the colon, they must exit through the colon. One of the most frequent health complaints among people is constipation. The laxative industry is booming because proper elimination is not just advice from our doctor, it is essential to our sense of well-being. Anyone who has a chronically sluggish colon typically suffers from discomfort and low energy.

Even if you think you are regular, you may be suffering an unclean, congested colon. Some of the symptoms of a congested colon include bloating, distended stomach, sluggishness, pain or a feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen, being prone to illnesses and unclear thinking.

Intestinal cleansing of the colon involves moving excess material out of the colon. Believe it or not, many of us are carrying around as many as 10 pounds of material in the colon. Medical doctors attest to this, not only the colon cleansing industry. There are many kinds of colon cleansing products on the market, far too many for most of us to sort out. A team of 3 medical doctors have reviewed 20 colon cleansing products. If you are planning to purchase a colon cleansing product, take some time to read these colon cleansing product reviews.

In addition to undertaking some type of intestinal cleansing program, there are a number of everyday dietary and lifestyle choices that will help keep your intestines clean and functioning optimally. Here are some things you can do to complement an intestinal cleansing program and prevent congestion in your digestive track:

  • Get regular exercise to stimulate the muscles in the intestines.
  • Drink 3-4 quarts of water a day.
  • Include probiotics in your diet. Sources include yogurt, kefir, miso and supplements.
  • Be sure you're getting enough dietary fiber, which comes from fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables everyday. Their enzymes help digest our food and are natural cleansers for the small intestines.
  • Aim for one bowel movement a day. If you do suffer from constipation, try increasing your water intake and exercise before going for the laxatives. Take laxatives on an as-needed basis. Daily use of laxatives do not give the body a break, it just makes us laxative dependent.