The large intestine is the last organ through which food passes, and its job is to absorb water and nutrients that were not absorbed in the small intestine and to form feces from the waste.
The large intestine is about five feet long, including its final segments, the colon and the rectum. Food at this point is primarily insoluble fiber, and generally will spend more time in your large intestine than anywhere else during digestion. One reason for this may be that bacteria in the colon are capable of generating nutrients from waste. These “good bacteria” (known as probiotics or flora) not only help with the absorption of food and the synthesis of short-chain fatty acids, they also promote the production of certain classes of antibodies that aid in the destruction of competing, or potentially disease-causing, bacteria. As adults, our digestive systems contain more than 100 trillion bacteria, fungi, and other microbes; more numerous than all the cells in your body.
In a healthy digestive system, there is a ratio of 80–85 percent ‘good’ bacteria and 15–20 percent ‘bad’ or diseasecausing bacteria. This ratio is reversed in many people today. Things that can contribute to this imbalance are:
• Drugs (antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, laxatives, antacids, birth control pills)
• Refined carbohydrates
• Processed food
• Lack of eating fermented foods
• Lack of fiber
• Inadequate chewing
• Environmental toxins
Signs of good digestion and elimination include good bowel movements daily (preferably two or three), forming stool that is free from odor, walnut brown in color with a consistency similar to toothpaste, and about the length of a banana. The stool should leave the body easily, settle into the toilet and gently submerge. The time it takes for a meal to enter the mouth and then exit the rectum, known as “transit time,” should ideally be between 12 to 18 hours. Transit time is related to exercise, water consumption, and especially the fiber content of your diet. Poor transit time can lead to the re-absorption of
toxins, including bacteria, nitrates, and other cancer-causing toxins, which can then enter the bloodstream.
It is of key medical importance for health practitioners to ask many questions about your stool. This is how we know what is going on in your body, as this system must be functioning well for you to be healthy. It is very common to be talking “poop” at USANA Sanoviv, not only with your doctors, but also with other guests! It’s a fascinating health subject.