What does the colon do?

The colon is an organ that is part of the digestive tract in the body. It’s often called the large intestine or the large bowel. When food enters the body, it’s digested mostly in the small intestine, where vitamins and minerals are taken out. After that, the food moves into the colon. The colon takes out water, and bacteria in the colon help break down the food to prepare it to leave the body. A healthy colon basically functions as the “cleanup” crew of the body.

Eating certain types of foods can help move waste through your colon and out of your body. If you’re in need of a colon cleanse, you might want to try incorporating the following five foods into your daily diet:

1. Broccoli

There are so many different ways to add broccoli to your diet. Try stir-frying it and tossing it with teriyaki chicken. You can also try this broccoli and cauliflower casserole.

2. Dark, leafy greens

Eating dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and chard is a great way to cleanse your colon. Add green to your dinner with these black bean and spinach enchiladas. This colorful Southwestern kale power salad makes a great lunch. You can add chard to your weeknight meals with this simple Swiss chard pasta.

3. Milk

You can use milk for more than just your morning cereal. This cheddar cheese soup will help you get your daily servings of both vegetables and dairy. You can also try homemade strawberry milk for a sweet treat.

4. Raspberries

Raspberries are always a delicious addition to dessert. But consider adding them to a salad, like this raspberry mozzarella salad. Or make them into a sauce and drizzle it over lamb chops.

5. Oatmeal

If you find packaged instant oatmeal boring, turn to some of the many creative oatmeal recipes out there! This recipe for Elvis oatmeal will satisfy your morning sweet tooth. Or switch things up with savory cheddar and fried-egg oatmeal. As you prepare your oatmeal, start with the whole-grain type, such as old-fashioned or steel-cut oats. They take longer to cook but provide more fiber.

All of these foods contain high amounts of fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are great at keeping your digestive system working properly and preventing constipation. But if you’re not used to a diet rich in fiber or calcium, introducing lots of these types of foods at once can lead to gastrointestinal distress in the form of diarrhea, bloating, or constipation. If you’re planning on a dietary colon cleanse, add more of these foods to your diet little by little over time instead of all at once.

The average American consumes about 13 grams of fiber per day, but experts say people should really be eating 25 to 35 grams for optimal colon health.

Fiber is plant material that can’t be broken down by enzymes in the human digestive system. It helps cleanse the colon because it encourages regular bowel movements and helps move food through the digestive system. Experts recommend eating some fiber at every meal to spread your intake throughout the day.

Types of fiber

There are two types of fiber: water-soluble and water-insoluble. Soluble fiber absorbs water during digestion, increasing stool size. Foods containing water-soluble fiber are sometimes called “roughage” and include:

  • high-fiber fruits, such as pears, avocados, and blackberries
  • vegetables
  • legumes
  • barley
  • oats and oat bran

Insoluble fiber remains unchanged during digestion, helping move food through the intestines normally. This kind of fiber can be found in:

  • fruits with edible skin or seeds
  • vegetables
  • whole-grain breads, pastas, and crackers
  • bulgur wheat
  • stone ground corn meal
  • cereals
  • bran
  • rolled oats
  • buckwheat
  • brown rice

Research suggests that calcium and vitamin D, specifically D3, are helpful in preventing colon cancer. They help reduce inflammation in the colon and they limit the activity of certain chemicals that can fuel colon cancer growth.

Calcium and vitamin D are found in many dark, leafy vegetables as well as dairy products and fortified cereals.

Healthy colon tips

  • Eat a high-fiber diet with lots of raw vegetables.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Avoid eating too much red meat and processed meats, as these are linked to colon cancer.
  • Consider taking daily probiotics to create a more diverse bacterial environment in your colon.
  • Include plenty of variety in your diet. Eating a variety of foods makes a difference in colon health.
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Focus on fueling your body with a variety of foods rich in fiber, calcium, and vitamin D. These foods will help keep your colon healthy.