How the Colon Works
The Gut Bacteria Factory
Prebiotics play a critical role in your nutritional health.
New, revolutionary, medical research techniques have clearly shown that the large bowel or colon and its enormous bacterial content provide many health benefits, but only if it is properly nourished. Mother’s milk even contains natural prebiotics that stimulate the growth of the best colon bacteria in the newborn. This unique growth then continues throughout life but only if the individual continues to consume a prebiotic rich diet. In turn, the bad bacteria, which everyone gets into their gut periodically, are prevented from growing. These examples of good and bad bacteria help us understand the role the colon plays in our overall health.
Promoting Good Digestive Bacteria with Prebiotics
The colon contains over 1000 species of bacteria. There is always a balance between whether the good, health providing predominate or whether bad groups of bacteria are in charge. Promoting digestive bacteria is easy by ingesting prebiotic rich foods and or using a full-spectrum prebiotic supplement.
So, in a very real sense, prebiotics are like fertilizer sprinkled on the lawn, which encourages the growth of lush grass and so crowds out the weeds. Probiotic bacteria, while at times helpful, are more like scattering seed on the lawn and then hoping that they will germinate and flourish. Adding prebiotics to good bacteria that are already in the colon will be much more successful in this goal.
The stomach is the reservoir that collects the food and liquid we eat and drink. It grinds up the food and ejects it in little amounts into the small bowel. The small bowel is over 20 feet long and receives digestive juices and enzymes from the liver and pancreas. The food is digested in the small bowel. This means that the calories, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, amino acids, and fats are absorbed into the blood stream and carried throughout the body.
The residue from the small bowel flows into the colon which is about five feet long. This is where fiber enters the picture. Fiber comes from plant material. It is mostly unused by the small bowel and is not digested. It enters the colon pretty much as it left the stomach. In the past, we knew the colon was packed with bacteria but did not understand it very well. The colon was viewed simply as a waste depot, as this last residue moved to the rectum and was evacuated.
The colon, as a health organ, is an incredible idea. Who would have thought it? Facts, however, have a way of pushing themselves in front of you and, sooner or later, you just have to pay attention. So, here are some facts about what prebiotics do when they are acted on by the good bacteria in the colon. These facts are supported by research. Some of it is hard, meaning there is a lot of support in the research community. Some is soft, where there is early work showing benefits but more is needed. So consider the following benefits for the body when prebiotics, either in food or supplements, are taken in adequate doses.
- Increased probiotic growth. Yes, the probiotics you take need nourished by prebiotics.
- Improved bowel regularity-softer and more regular BM
- Increased absorption of calcium and magnesium throughout the colon
- Increased, stronger bone density. This is particularly true for young teenagers.
- Enhanced immune factors in the colon
- Reduced triglyceride level
- Controlled appetite and reduced weight
- Dramatically increased growth of good protective colon bacteria, bifidobacteria, and lactobacillus.
- Decreased growth of bad colon bacteria, clostridium, and others
- Decreased or cessation of offensive flatus smell
- Weight control and management
- Correction of dysbiosis(bad bacteria in the colon)
- Correction of leaky gut and endotoxemia(toxins in the blood)