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That Gut Feeling

Do you ever wonder how some people seem to have energy in spades; glowing skin; they’re motivated and successful; they’re thin and svelte, and they seem to really enjoy their lives? There are reasons for that, but it’s far easier to achieve all of these things with less effort than you probably think. Sure, genetics and diet play a part, but paying a little more attention to the last organ we want to talk about will yield impressive and satisfying results very quickly. It’s Colon Cancer Awareness Month, so let’s talk about ways to improve your chances of avoiding this deadly disease, and remember, working with your doctor or alternative health care provider is important. The average American has a bowel movement between once a week to once a month, but a healthy colon will move at least once a day. This irregularity can cause symptoms such as: skin rashes, acne, fatigue, moodiness, foggy-brain, lack of memory, constant headaches, abdominal discomfort, gas, bloating, low back pain, diverticulitis, polyps, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, poor immune function, hemorrhoids, hiatal hernia, leaky gut, among others. With the Standard American Diet, the average adult holds about 10-12 meals worth of waste in our colons which is about 10-20 pounds of extra weight. Kids can hold more, and with the current sedentary lifestyle, it can cause many other problems. The first place to start would be getting movement. Just getting up and walking about 15 minutes a day (two trips to the mailbox perhaps?). Walking is one of the best exercises. It increases blood flow and lymph circulation, which helps supply blood and oxygen to the organs, reduces gas and bloating, and can even wake up the colon and encourage movement. While you’re up and moving, be sure to get enough water. The majority of your water absorption is in the large intestine. Drinking adequate amounts of water (half your body weight in ounces) daily can assist in easier elimination. The longer it sits, the drier it gets! Another step to achieving gut health is including probiotics in your diet. Probiotics produce vitamins B and K which help protect the gut lining, and are found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, kefir and yogurt. Good pre-biotics are necessary to feed probiotics, and are abundant in foods like apples, asparagus, honey, chicory, garlic, onions and oats. Eating some of these foods often will boost the effectiveness of your probiotics by feeding them. As connections between overall health and gut health continue to emerge, novel treatments including probiotics are beginning to develop for illnesses and disease. Keeping your colon healthy may seem like a full time job, but over time, these new habits will become a part of your everyday life.