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Bowels

The bowels (also known as the large intestine) may not be “pretty” as a topic of conversation but they play a major role in maintaining optimal health. The colon forms part of the eliminatory apparatus of your digestive system and helps waste to be expelled from the body. If these waste products remained inside for very long, toxins and harmful substances could build up and severely compromise your health.

The Amazing Colon

Your bowels have an amazing ability to absorb water from waste matter. In fact, this muscular organ can absorb more than 90 percent of the fluid with which it comes into contact. On average, the bowels must process 3 to 4 pints of fluid daily. This fluid, comprised of bile, ingested food, and digestive juices, is reduced by the colon to about a tenth of its original volume.

It takes less than two hours for waste to reach the colon, but it may take as anywhere from one to a few days until this material exits the digestive system. This may seem like a long time, but this is nature’s way of letting the colon perform its job, by secreting small amounts of mucus to help waste stay lubricated and move along smoothly.

Anatomy of the Bowels

The colon measures five to six feet in length and include the ascending (right), the transverse, the descending (left), the sigmoid (s-shaped), and the rectum.

The ascending colon is located on the right side of your abdomen follows an upward path. The transverse colon spans your abdomen from its turn by the liver (hepatic flexure) to the turn by the spleen (splenic flexure). This portion of your bowels hangs from the stomach, attached by the greater omentum—a band of resilient tissue. Unlike the parts of the colon preceding and trailing it, the transverse colon is slightly mobile. During its time in the ascending and transverse portions of the colon, waste is transformed from a liquid into a semi-solid form.

Waste then continues its journey to the descending colon, the portion of the bowels extending from the splenic flexure to the sigmoid colon. The descending colon is located in the left side of your abdomen and follows a downward path. As the waste reaches this point, it is getting closer to the time of elimination. Your descending colon provides a path for the stool to travel on its way to the recto-sigmoid area. At the end of the descending colon, waste finally reaches the sigmoid colon. This s-shaped organ contains strong muscular walls that contract to increase pressure and deliver waste to the rectum. Eating stimulates the muscle contractions which empty the contents of the descending and sigmoid colons into the rectum for ultimate evacuation.

By the time waste reaches the rectum, most of the water has already been absorbed, and it’s ready to leave the body. The rectum is about eight inches long and stores a bowel movement until it arrives at the anal canal. Small shelves in the rectum called transverse shelves hold the stool in place until you’re ready to visit the bathroom. When the rectum is full, the increase in pressure forces apart the walls of the anal canal and waste material enters. This arrival signals your body it’s time to “go.” The pelvic floor muscles and the internal and external anal sphincters help you wait until it’s convenient, but don’t ignore the natural urges. Holding it in can lead to digestive trouble.

Promoting Digestive Health

It is important to listen to the signals your body gives you. Ignoring the call of nature can cause chronic constipation as the stool becomes harder and drier from spending too much time within the colon. Over extended periods, not permitting bowel movements to occur on time can cause waste to become impacted.

To keep your bowels functioning well, drink plenty of water and maintain a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and free of processed foods which put additional stress on the colon. Exercise also stimulates a healthy bowel and offers many other benefits as well. The exercise needn’t be strenuous as walking casually will do the trick just fine; or you may discover a more demanding sport or hobby to which you feel drawn and truly enjoy. When it comes to exercise, the most important thing is that you choose an activity you like so you will stick with it.

Another safe and effective way to help promote bowel health is with Oxy-Powder® from GHC Health. This convenient, all-natural compound is an excellent colon cleanser and helps your intestinal tract keep itself clean, avoid constipation, and flush toxins. Oxy-Powder® works without the rough and unpleasant effects of laxatives. It has a unique time-released formula to work gradually over twelve hours, so cramping and urgency are avoided. Keeping your colon clean and healthy is the first step towards achieving and maintaining lifelong digestive and overall health!

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