eLanka | Your large Bowel & your Health-by Harold Gunatillake


Harold Gunatillake




Let us talk about your large bowel and health, today

Maintaining a healthy gut contributes to better overall health and immune function.

You have over 17 feet of small bowel gyrating in your abdominal cavity, sometimes making loud sounds. The width of the lumen is about 2-3 cm. The wall is thin and elastic so that it can expand.

On the other hand, your large bowel is thicker in the wall, larger in width, stuck to the back of your abdominal cavity, except the transverse colon which sags and swings.

Digestion of your food occurs in your small gut from the enzymes made in your pancreas, and then absorbed into your body.

The unabsorbed and undigested food that remains then moves to the large intestine. Here, some more nutrients

and water are absorbed. The remainder is stored in the rectum until it leaves the body through a bowel movement.

Bacteria in your large bowel also break down food.

The purpose of the large intestine is to absorb water and salts from the material that has not been digested as food and get rid of any waste products left over.

In addition to the above functions of the large gut, a most important function is that it gives accommodation for trillions of bacteria helping your wellbeing, including boosting immune system, and manufacturing vitamins.

This is the reason that you need to be careful in not taking antibiotics unless required, because they harm your beneficial microbes in your large gut.

 There are really 3 major functions of the large intestine.

Recovery of water and electrolytes,

Formation and storage of faeces

Fermentation of some of the indigestible foods like fiber by bacteria

Keeping your large bowel healthy is essential for a healthy life.

How can you improve large gut health?

A healthy balanced diet that is full of fruits and veggies containing high fiber, drink adequate amount of water, exercise regularly and feeding your microbiota with pre and probiotics, including fermented foods.

According to the most up-to-date Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the adequate intake (AI) of fibre for adult men is 33.6 grams (g) per day, and 28 g for adult women.

Large bowel seems to not like you eating much sugar and sweeteners as they do not have fiber.

Another important factor for good large bowel health is adequate amount of sleep.

The researchers have found that those who lived in homes where people used disinfectant cleaning products at least weekly were twice as likely to have higher levels of Lachinospiraceae gut microbes, a type associated with type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Smoking too seems to alter intestinal flora i.e. the good bacteria to potentially harmful microorganisms and decreasing the levels of beneficial bacteria.

This may increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

People who eat more veggies seem to have more good gut bacteria than those people who eat meat.

It is also observed that those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or other medical conditions probiotics and fiber-rich or vegetarian diets may not be helpful.

How does the healthy gut microbiota help maintain a healthy inner lining to prevent diseases.?

These healthy microbiota and the chemicals they produce, help maintain the mucosal layer that lines the gut and serves as a barrier, modulate the amount of inflammation in the gut and prevent the growth of disease causing bacteria.

Eating Sauerkraut (sour white cabbage) a fermented cabbage that provides the body with lots of good bacteria are one of the best foods to keep the good bacteria happy.

Asparagus is low in calories and a great source of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamins. Eat plenty daily for good gut health

Other foods for a healthy gut are Pineapple. …Onion. …Garlic. …Bone broth. …Apple cider vinegar. …Kimchi.

The good gut bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids especially butyrate to provide optimum health, and the raw product used to produce such fatty acids is fermentable dietary fibre.

They are the main metabolites produced by the microbiota in the large gut through anaerobic fermentation of idigestible polysaccharides such as dietary fibre and resistant starch.

These short chain fatty acids also influence the gut- brain connection or axis..

Butyrate in particular is important for maintaining good health via regulation of the immune system. It maintains a good defensive epithelial barrier protecting against several diseases, including colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and obesity.

To stimulate butyrate production is to supplement the diet with carbs that are resistant to degradation by human gut enzymes but can be metabolized by select bacteria in the colon. Resistant rice in our staple diet also produce fatty acid

One such resistant starch prepared from potatoes could increase average fecal butyrate in health.

Resistant starch in rice like potatoes can increase the average fecal butyrate in health.

So it is important to increase your carbs with high fibre content to reduce the incidence of chronic diseases in the large bowel.

Colon cancer typically affects older adults. It starts from innocent polyps and sometimes these polyps become colon cancers.

Screening for cancer is important on a regular basis to prevent colon cancer

Low fibre, high fat diets can increase the risk of colon cancer. Also there is an increase in people who eat diets high in red meat and processed meat.

There is a reduced risk of colon cancer among people who use regular aspirin like drugs.

Inflammation of the Colon

The large gut gets inflamed due to ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

In ulcerative colitis both colon and rectum becomes inflamed and develops ulcers.

Possible causes are:

Autoimmune disorders


Environment factors- consuming high fat diet, taking antibiotics or oral contraceptives increases the chances of developing ulcerative colitis.

Crohn’s disease.

Similar condition like ulcerative colitis, but may affect other parts of the digestive tract.

In both inflammatory conditions dietary and lifestyle changes may help reduce or prevent symptoms.

Probiotics – Bacteria and yeast in probiotics can help relieve symptoms in inflammatory bowel disease, including irritable bowel syndrome.

Certain foods and drinks may irritate the bowel and worsen symptoms in people with inflammatory disease of the large bowel.

Foods and drinks containing caffeine should be avoided.

Energy drinks, coffee and tea, cola and chocolate.

Foods containing lactose should be avoided.

  • They are: milk, buttermilk, and cream
  • yogurt
  • cottage cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream
  • soft cheeses
  • ice-cream

Though high fibre diets prevent inflammatory diseases of the large gut, when you have symptoms doctors will recommend low-fiber diets.

  • High fibre foods are: beans, pulses, and peas
  • nuts and seeds
  • potatoes
  • raw fruits
  • raw vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach
  • whole-wheat or whole-grain bread, cereals, pasta, and rice

You should avoid specific carbs including fermentable oligosaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPS)  when you have inflammatory bowel syndromes.

These foods include some:

  • fruits and vegetables
  • dairy products
  • wheat and rye products
  • sugars and artificial sweeteners


Hope this video talk was useful to be aware that large gut health is essential for good health and longevity, just as you care for your heart.

Thank you for watching, Stay safe and goodbye for now.


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