How does the colon work?
Under normal circumstances, the colon gradually removes the remaining water, and forms a shaped stool, which moves towards the rectum as a result of gentle pressure waves.
Muscle contractions in the colon push the stool toward the rectum.
Without sufficient fiber, the water is reabsorbed into the body through the walls of the colon and the stool becomes hard and small.
The colon needs to work harder by developping high-pressure waves to move the stool.
After a long time of low-fiber diet, the colon is no longer capable of working so hard and it requires the help of the abdominal muscles. This leads to hernias, diverticulosis*, hemorrhoids.
*Diverticulosis: It is abnormal pouches in the wall of the colon, which can be form when the intestine walls get weak. These pouches become inflamed, leading to episodes of cramping, lower-abdominal pain and constipation alternating with diarrhea.
What is the fiber's role?
Insoluble fiber holds onto water, helping to soften and add bulk to waste in the intestines.
Adding insoluble fiber in your diet may avoid constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis.
When soft stools easily pass out of the body, there is no need for strained bowel mouvements. As a result, hemorrhoids are less likely formed. With soft regular stools, diverticulosis may be avoided too.
Without liquids, the action of the fiber will be limited.
Bowel habits is something we do not talk about except with our physician. Sometimes we do not even want to discuss that with him till we are really in pain.
We can live a long time without knowing what is good or not. Since problems usually stem from childhood, representing lifelong habits, and since they have no standards for comparison, most patients assume that their function is normal.
You have to know that everybody is different, so what is normal for one person may not be normal for another person. Do not be obsessed about your bowel frequency. However,
Are you really constipated?
You might be constipated if you have:
Most people do not need laxatives to correct constipation.
A change in the diet is usually enough.
They are dangerous since they can be habit-forming.
The colon begins to rely on laxatives to bring on bowel movements.
Laxatives can damage nerve cells in the colon and interfere with the colon's natural ability to contract.
N.B. Pregnant women often complain about constipation.
It can be due to:
Realized by Laurence LIVERNAIS-SAETTEL, dietetian
© Copyright L. Livernais-Saettel 2000
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