Keeping your bowels in a healthy condition is important for the state of your liver for many reasons. One of these reasons is that there is normally a re-circulation or re-absorption of fluid from the bowels back to the liver and this is carried to the liver by a network of veins – this is known as the entero-hepatic circulation. If your bowel wall is inflamed it becomes damaged and fragile and the “leaky bowel syndrome” develops. This means that the bowel lining leaks excess fluid which can be carried back to the liver via the entero-hepatic circulation. If the contents of your large bowel are unhealthy then the fluid traveling back to the liver via this route is unhealthy. For example of you are constipated or eat unhealthy food the contents inside your bowel will become more toxic. Some folks who are chronically constipated have up to 6 meals within their bowel and the waste products of this digested food will build up and become loaded with unfavorable bacteria and cancer causing chemicals; these can be re-circulated back to your liver.
The lining of the intestines can be damaged by:
- Lack of raw foods in the diet
- Certain drugs such as pain killers, cortisone, antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs
- Unfriendly bacteria
- Food allergies or intolerances – gluten intolerance is a common problem that damages the bowel in this way
- Consumption of excess meat or preserved foods
- Lack of fiber
- Processed vegetable fats – called trans fats or hydrogenated vegetable oils
- Stress and anxiety
- Auto-immune disease
If you have bowel problems you will need to correct the balance of bacteria in your bowel by ingesting friendly and health promoting bacteria – these are known as pro-biotics and include such bacteria as acidophilus, lacto-bacillus bifidus etc. These healthy bacteria can be purchased at the refrigerated section of the health food store and are also found in yogurts (choose organic or biodynamic unsweetened yogurts), fermented foods and raw fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants can heal the lining of the bowel and include vitamin C, zinc and selenium. Omega 3 fatty acids are also important for a healthy bowel and can be found in fish oil, oily fish, walnuts and omega 3 eggs and flaxseed.
Those with inflammatory bowel disease will need to avoid foods containing gluten – gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. For an excellent 2 week bowel detox follow the diet that comes with the newly launched Dr Cabot's 15 Day Cleanse program.
Many folks suffer with constipation and do not have a regular or properly formed bowel action – it is normal to open your bowels once or twice daily and the stool should be soft, a little fibrous and easily passed without straining. Check your bowel actions to ensure that there is no blood or excess mucus.
If you are badly constipated and do not open your bowels without laxatives then you have a problem – I have patients who tell me that if they did not take opening medications they would only open their bowels once a week or even less frequently. In these patients it is important to do investigations such as a colonoscopy or a barium enema X ray to exclude cancer or other serious problems. The most common cause of severe chronic constipation is an excessively long bowel or a bowel with too many curves and loops – this is known as redundant bowel – in other words it’s a bowel that is too large for your abdominal cavity – you simply do not need all that extra bowel. This enlarged bowel becomes a reservoir for feces which just sit there and do not move along the bowel easily – in other words you develop a bowel that is loaded with feces and this is a common finding when patients have imaging tests such as X-rays and ultrasounds done.
What can be done in cases of redundant bowel?
- Change the diet to include more raw foods and fiber.
- Drink more water and raw vegetable juices.
- Have a regular weekly colonic irrigation or lavage – this is like a giant water enema and works very well.
- Take fiber supplements such as Fibertone powder and a mixture of ground nuts and seeds – in a coffee grinder or blender place equal parts of flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, psyllium husks, almonds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds and grind into a fine powder. The ground mixture is added to the Fibertone (use 3 parts of the ground mixture to one part of the Fibertone) and stirred into freshly made orange and lime juice. Take 3 to 4 tablespoons of this mixture daily. Some folks find that if they add one tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil to the juice that the mixture works even better as a natural laxative.
- The Livatone Plus powder is also high in fiber so it’s good for the bowels as well as the liver.
In a minority of patients with an enlarged and redundant bowel the constipation causes severe bloating and discomfort and these people need to see a surgeon who specializes in surgery of the large bowel. The extra loops of bowel and any unhealthy areas of the bowel can then be removed and I must say some of these patients get wonderful results and never have anymore bowel problems.