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How Does The Colon Work?

The large intestine (colon) is much larger in diameter than the small intestine, but shorter in length. It extends from the ileocal valve to the anus. The small intestine empties its contents into the beginning of the colon. The indigested food is propelled through the colon by muscular waves of contraction and relaxation called peristalsis. Bulk or fiber in the diet increases the strength of the colon to act like a well-oiled machine. This food material can remain in the colon 4 to 5 hours. The entire process of digestion can take up to 24 hours.

The colon contains a high concentration of bacteria that is very important in the synthesis of folic acid, B-vitamin and vitamin K from the food. A very important function of the colon is to reclaim water after digestion. Two common conditions of the colon are diarrhea and constipation. Diarrhea occurs when food residue rushes through the large intestine before the colon has had time to absorb the water. Constipation occurs when food residue remains in the colon too long and becomes dehydrated and too hard to expel. Many factors can contribute to these conditions like diet, stress, medications and physical disabilities. Colon cleansing helps to re-hydrate hard, impacted material in the colon. It also encourages peristaltic movement and improves muscle tone that can lead to the restoration of regular bowl movements.

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