Updated: Sep 17
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The Human Colon 101
You’ve probably heard a lot about the colon. Mostly as it applies to colon health and foods which are good for your colon. But how much do you really know about the colon and its functions in the human body?
What Is The Colon?
The colon is found near the “tail” end of the human digestive tract and it is a crucial part of the human waste system. It is a tubular organ which is always functioning to remove waste from your system. During this process it also helps maintain the fluid levels in your body.
The colon begins at the end of the
small intestine, and ends at the rectum.
The colon is comprised of four layers, the mucosa layer, which provides lubricant for the stool passage. The submucosa which connects the mucosa to the muscularis propria. The muscularis propria, which is the muscular layer of the colon. And finally, the serosa, which is the outermost layer of the colon.
How Does The Colon Work?
When you eat food, it is first digested by the stomach, then it passes through the small intestine where all of the nutrients are absorbed into your body. The digested food then enters the colon, which absorbs water from the digested food as needed for bodily functions.
The muscular walls of the colon contract to move the digested food through during this process and bacteria begins to break down whatever material remains. The solidified waste is then passed to the rectum to be formed into stool.
Can You Live Without A Colon?
Yes and no. According to RN Julie Wilkinson, it is possible to live without a colon, and many people who have suffered from colon cancer do so every day! Normally, just a portion of the colon is removed and it is possible to live a normally, happy life with a partial colon.
However, if a large portion of your colon is removed (or almost all of it) you will have to make drastic changes and live a much healthier life than you would if only a small part was removed as your body will no longer have the same capabilities to process food that it did before.
How To Keep Your Colon Healthy
If the thought of having to have your colon removed scares you, then it’s probably best that you work to take care of it now. Wilkinson recommends you keep your colon healthy by eating a high fiber diet, drinking plenty of water, and exercising regularly. Doctors also recommend you limit your red meat consumption, as well as your alcohol intake, and stop using tobacco products if you currently do. If you find that you are experiencing colon discomfort, such as constipation or diarrhea, for extended periods of time, make sure you see a doctor sooner rather than later.
Diseases Of The Colon
If the colon is not kept healthy, doctors at Medtronic report that this could result in the development of a number of diseases such as Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulosis, diverticulitis, and most serious of all, colon cancer.
Each of these diseases has different symptoms and effects, but all can lead to the need to remove some or all of the colon. Colon cancer is especially dangerous because, if left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body. This is why it is crucial to keep your colon healthy, as well as monitor for any signs that something serious may be going on.
Overall, the colon is a critical part of your digestive tract which works hard to remove the waste from the food you ingest. If you don’t keep yours healthy, it’s possible that a number of diseases could result, so make sure you do everything in your power to take care of your colon today.