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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What's Your Colon Transit Time?

As educated as Americans are supposed to be, with a trillion dollars in school debt to show for it, its surprising how little most know about the most basic facts about their own bodies.

Let's take digestion as an example - something that, as it turns out - impacts all aspects of your life.

Well, you say, what could I know about my own digestive system?  Its all hidden away on the inside.

As it turns out, you can tell a quite a bit.


Let's be a bit scientific and see what we can infer about our digestion system.   To do this we need to start somewhere where there is something, er, concrete to look at... and that takes us to the end product of digestion.

So let's start there...

First of all, that tendency to take a look after you've done your business is completely natural - just watch the dog or cat.  Besides, what you leave behind (no pun intended) can tell you a lot about what's going on inside of you - which is what we are interested in.

From "What is Normal...?" - "Normal feces contains water, indigestible fiber, undigested food, sloughed off intestinal cells, living and dead bacteria, bile, and worn out red blood cells. A normal stool should be brown to light brown, formed but not hard or too soft, cylindrical but not flattened on any side, fairly bulky and full bodied but not compact, easy to pass, and it shouldn't have an extremely foul smell. Each bowel movement should be in one piece, about the size and shape of a banana being tapered at the end. Sometimes this will not be discernible if the feces breaks up in the toilet."

This is generally what is agreed by everyone (science, doctors, web sites) on as far as I can see.  Whether its a floater or sinker - well, that's apparently up for debate and you can do your own research. There are many signs of trouble in your digestive system, which the linked article points out, that can be discovered by a quick check each day.

But good bowel health is more than the end results, as it were.

According to the Royal Society of Medicine, ‘over 90% of all chronic diseases are due to an infection of the gastrointestinal tract’. 

That's right - 90% of all chronic disease - not just digestive disease - but all chronic disease.

The longer waste remains in your body the more likely you will suffer from chronic problems.  While comprehensive list of the problems can be found here problems include all the classic digestive diseases, circulatory problems, problems with eyes, skin, and muscles and joints, urinary and reproductive problems, and general mental health issues, e.g., depression, etc.

Imagine if all household waste (including waste of humans and animals) sat around in the house for a few days.  Compare that to taking it out once a day.  Big difference...

You may already have heard it said that ‘death begins in the bowel’ and this is indeed true.

And this is where we cross paths with "colon transit time".  This is the time that elapses between the time the food enters you mouth until it departs your body at the other end - normally 8 to 14 hours.  That's right kiddies - 8 to 14 yours - in by 9 PM, out by 8 AM, as it were.  A good rule of thumb is one bowel movement per meal per day.  (Again, let rover be your guide.)

Modern Americans have, on average, a colon transit time of 60 hours.  Medical science says anything less than 72 hours is okay.  But Americans suffer from digestive problems a lot - and its getting worse.  While there is always variation from person to person just make sure that you're not significantly contributing to your own poor health.

That 60 hour average transit time leaves 5 to 10 pounds of waste in your colon at any given time - just hanging around - spending an extra 50 hours in your intestines.  What it does to you?  Well, you can just imagine...

Here's a list of some of the poisons that can accumulate in your bowels if your transit time is low: Indol, skarol, phenol, cresol, indican, sulphurretted hydrogen, ammonia, histidine, urrobilin, methylmercaptan, tetramerhy-lendiamin, pentamethy lendiamine, putrescin, cadaverin, neurin, cholin, muscarine, butyric acid, bera-imidazzolethy-lamine, methylgandinine, ptomarropine, botulin, tyramine, agamatine, tryptophane, sepsin, idolethylamine, sulpherro-globine.

Like my post on sinus flushing says, compacting waste of any sort inside your body that should, in fact, be eliminated on a regular basis, is asking for trouble.

This is no different.

Fortunately you can boost your colon transit time relatively easily.  There are many sites devoted to this topic but to summarize:
  • Eat unrefined foods whenever possible.
  • Make approximately 50% of your diet raw food
  • Eat cultured foods regularly (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, borscht, sourdough grains)
  • Avoid sodas; drink less coffee and tea and more water
  • Exercise
There are lots of other treatments as well - but those are up to you and/or your doctor.

Healthy eating, as usual, seems to be the most bang for the buck.

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