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The Toxic Bowel - Why Dietary Fibre is So Important to our Health and Longevity

posted on 21 September 2008 | posted in Health Articles


The Toxic Bowel

Identifying the Problem


Medical herbalists used to use the phrase 'death starts within the bowel'. When the colon isn't working as it should, we exhibit a number of obvious symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating etc. However there are a lot of illnesses that may be preventable if we ensure that our bowel is functioning as it should be.

A large part of our immune system is located around the intestines and if the bowel is toxic and sluggish, this alerts the immune system to react. The bowel is exposed to more toxins in a day than an immune system should be exposed to in a lifetime, so it makes sense to ensure that these toxins are disposed of quickly and efficiently through the bowels. Many long-term diseases later in life may be totally avoided by ensuring that we maintain a healthy bowel.

This article explains symptoms that can be caused by a sluggish or toxic bowel, and how we can keep our bowels healthy and with a reduced toxic load on the body.

Symptoms from insufficient fibre in the diet:
Hard dry difficult stools
Nausea
Foul smelling stools and/or Excessive Gas
Haemorrhoids or varicose veins
Bloating
Anal fissures
Cramps
Diverticulosis, diverticulitis
Diarrhoea
Hiatal hernia
Irritable bowel or spastic colon
Appendicitis
Indigestion or heartburn
Colon polyps, colon cancer, rectal cancer
Bad breath, coated tongue
Gallbladder disease

Symptoms OUTSIDE the digestive tract primarily due to insufficient fibre
Elevated blood sugar, diabetes type II
Heavy metal accumulation
Hypoglycaemia
Overeating tendency
Elevated blood cholesterol
Overweight
Coronary artery problems
Allergic tendencies
Hypertension
Susceptibility to bladder or vaginal infections
Symptoms related to circulating bowel toxins
Halitosis (offensive breath)
Sallow complexion
Coated tongue
Liver problems, detoxification impairment
Body odour
Arthritis
Nausea
Autoimmune disease
Headache
Ulcers & gastritis
Personality and brain changes (e.g. depression, irritability, nervousness, forgetfulness, insomnia)
Puffy, flaccid, or thinning skin, loss of skin elasticity
Fatigue
Acne , boils

Factors that promote a toxic bowel
Excess dietary sugar
Overgrowth of unfavourable bacteria
Excess dietary animal protein
Low thyroid function
Constipation
Inadequate digestion
Food intolerances
Liver/gallbladder sluggishness (bile)
Antibiotic overuse
Intestinal parasites
Intestinal yeast overgrowth
Food intolerance
Any food that is an allergen can cause constipation and other bowel symptoms
Intestinal Yeast Infection
An overgrowth of Candida albicans is a common cause of constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and abdominal pain
Inadequate Digestion. Without sufficient gastric Hcl and pancreatic enzymes, constipation and other colon imbalances can result

Overgrowth of Unfavourable Intestinal Bacteria
Due to the overuse of antibiotics, toxin – producing bacteria can flourish in the intestines causing symptoms. Inadequate fibre intake, too much sugar and animal protein, also inadequate digestion can encourage growth of these organisms.

HEALING A TOXIC BOWEL
  • Eat sufficient fibre: At least 30 grams per day and drink enough fluids. The large intestine reabsorbs and recycles some of our fluids so if we don't drink enough, stools can be hard and difficult to pass. Ensure the transition from a low fibre to a high fibre diet is done slowly. Too much fibre suddenly can bring about gastrointestinal distress


  • High sources of soluble and insoluble fibre
    Insoluble Fibre
    Whole wheat and rye
    Wheat and rice bran
    Cooked lentils
    Asparagus
    Brussels sprouts
    Flax seed (linseed)
    Chia
    Both Soluble and Insoluble
    Kidney beans
    Navy beans
    Green beans
    Green peas
    Squash
    Corn
    Higher in Soluble Fibre
    Apples
    Bananas
    Citrus fruits
    Blackberries
    Prunes
    Carrots
    Barley, oats & oat bran
    Psyllium Husks
    Guar gum
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep stools hydrated.
  • Drink the majority of fluids separate from meals. Avoid dehydrating flour products such as bread
  • Eat sufficient raw food
  • Avoid overeating
    Overeating creates a continual energy demand on the colon that can eventually force it to become sluggish. An over-distended stomach also shuts down gastric acid production.
  • Respect the body’s signals to open bowels
    Ignoring too often the body’s signals may waken the strength of the signal or distort your perception of it.
  • Adequate Exercise
    Helps the bowel move
  • Manage stress
    Sometimes the body will let us know that we have gone too far long before our mind ever does! Making things safe or more nurturing for oneself can help.
    Sometimes a slugging bowel may be a signal of the opposite – if things have got boring, not challenging enough, ie. Stagnated


  • Supplements to assist bowel function

    Flaxseeds: 1 tablespoon or more of flaxseeds soaked overnight in a glass of water can provide both fibre, and lubrication to the colon (mucilaginous).
    Can be added to protein drinks or fruit smoothies in the blender.
    Store in an airtight container in the fridge and don’t soak or grind until needed.

    Probiotics: These intestinal organisms help normalise digestion, constipation and diarrhoea. If dairy isn’t a problem then some of the cultured yoghurts and kefir can be helpful. Test first before advising. Yakult and Actimel contain so much sugar in them. Eat plain natural yoghurt and put your own flavourings in it. Fruit yoghurts also contain a lot of sugar. Use canned fruit in its own juice or fresh fruit or jams made with fruit juice such as St.Dalfour or Meridian Jams. Supplements provide high content support. These include milk-free Bifidophilus Flora Force, or if its a child with bowel problems, they can be helped by giving them Herbasaurs Bifido for Kids and there are many more on the market. Fermented foods can also be useful such as unpasteurised miso, tempeh or rejuvelac drink (see below for recipe). Other fermented foods such as sauerkraut can be useful.

    Whey: Acts a s a prebiotic and nourishes friendly bacteria

    Green juice: Make from green leafy vegetables, spirulina (Nature’s Sunshine), chlorella and Liquid Chlorophyll. Can act as a bowel cleanser and relieve constipation

    Lemon Juice: Very cleansing to the intestinal tract. Add the juice of half a lemon to a cup of hot water and drink. Or very thinly slice an organic unwaxed lemon and let it sit in two to three cups of water overnight. Warm and drink. Do this first thing in the morning (NB. Lemon juice can erode the enamel on teeth if this is done on a prolonged basis. Thoroughly rinsing out the mouth after drinking is important, or better still brush the teeth with baking soda.

    Aloe Vera Juice: 1 – 2 fl oz of aloe vera juice (e.g. Natures Sushine) taken once or twice daily can act a s a bowel cleanser and help in some cases of constipation

    Slippery Elm Tea: The mucilaginous herb Slippery Elm is available from some chemists or in capsule form from Nature’s Sunshine

    Figs: Fresh figs or dried soaked figs

    Other bowel techniques

    Abdominal massage: Try this technique for 5 – 10 minutes once or twice daily. Whilst lying down, press rhythmically with either the palm of the hand or a rubber ball. Start at the lower right quadrant of the abdomen near the hip bone. Work slowly up the right side of the abdomen to just below the rib cage. Then massage straight across the abdomen towards the left side. Go down the left side of the abdomen down towards the pubic bone and then across the lower abdomen back to the starting point. The pressure shouldn’t cause pain, but should be firm enough in the areas that permit. Relaxing the abdominal muscles will allow for a deeper massage. Castor oil or olive oil are good to use as a lubricant. A castor oil pack can be of great help.

    Stimulating foot reflexes: Thoroughly massage the arch and heel areas of the foot with a rolling pin or a foot massage roller. Having some reflexology sessions can really be helpful for constipation.

    Well’s Step: A Well’s step or a footstool – even a few phone directories used to elevate the knees to well above the level of the hips. This opens up the pelvis and takes further advantage of gravity allowing for a fuller and easier bowel evacuation.. Raising the arms above the head whilst on the toilet causes the abdomen to lift and may allow for a fuller bowel movement

    Herbal laxatives should only be used in acute cases of constipation. They do not rejuvenate bowel function and if used long term could weaken the colon.

    Healing and regulating herbal formulas :
    To heal an inflamed bowel, Chamomile and Marshmallow Formula can very very soothing and to regulate and help keep the bowel healthy try using Bowel Build. To help increase bile production, that will help the motility of the bowel, consider using Fringetree Formula
    Intestinal Cleansing Programme
    You will need:
  • A fibre bulking agent such as Psyllium Hulls Combination or Fibre Supreme and encourage the consumption of the high fibre foods mentioned earlier.
  • Internal cleansing capsules containing herbs such as blessed thistle, yellow dock, red clover, Irish moss, bayberry bark etc.


  • A good cleanse containing 6 different formulas, including fibre, is Healthy Starter Pack by Nature’s Sunshine. For an excellent cleanse drink Liquid Chlorophyll 3 times daily and after completing the cleanse, top up healthy bacteria by supplementing with Bifidophilus Flora Force

    Dry skin brush every day paying attention to the abdominal area as in the abdominal massage section. Caster oil packs or rubbing in olive oil is said to stimulate bile production. Olive oil cream massaged into the abdomen is said to improve pancreatic enzyme and bicarbonate secretion.

    Drink Rejuvelac daily to improve intestinal flora (See recipe below)

    If you would like to read more about how to keep yourself healthy, you'll find some excellent information in this book

    Fibre Supplements
    It’s hard to get 30 – 40 g per day from the normal British diet
    Some options to increase intake of natural fibre per day.
    Additional natural fibres include
    Psyllium Hulls Combination
    Loclo
    Slippery Elm
    TNT good for people who won’t eat fruit & veg
    Chia

    Prebiotics and Probiotics
    Sauerkraut
    Kombuchu Tea
    Rejuvelac drink (see below)
    Soil based bacteria (e.g. saccharomyce boulardii)
    Fermented and unfermented probiotics

    Remedies Promoting an Healthy Bowel
  • 10-30 day cleansing programme
  • Marshmallow and Chamomile Combination Good for inflammatory bowel disease and IBS.
  • Bowel Build
  • Cascara and Buckthorn to stimulate bowel movements if constipated


  • REJUVELAC
    Anne Wigmore’s Hippocrates Health Drink
    Drink at least 1 glass of rejuvelac each day to improve their bowel flora. Rejuvelac may also be used as a starter for sourdough bread, and nut and seed cheese.
    INGREDIENTS
    Makes 2 litres.
    1 cup of wheat grains, from a health food store.
    2 litres of water.
    2 litre mason jar (wide mouthed).
    INSTRUCTIONS METHOD 1
    1. Add the wheat grains to the mason jar. Fill with water and cover with gauze, held securely in place with an elastic band.
    2. Leave the jar on a kitchen bench out of direct sunlight. Give the jar a gentle twirl, but not a shake, every 12 hours. Once a light foam develops the Rejuvelac it should be ready for use. It may take anywhere from 2-5 days to ferment the Rejuvelac depending on the ambient temperature. In hot weather where it may ferment too quickly (around 24 hours) it is possible for the Rejuvelac go putrid. Rejuvelac should have a pleasant yeasty smell with a lemon like flavour.
    3. Decant the Rejuvelac into a flagon and refrigerate. Refill the jar with water and ferment for another 24-36 hours to make a second culture. Decant the Rejuvelac and discard the wheat grains.
    INSTRUCTIONS METHOD 2
    1. Soak the grain over night. Rinse then lay the jar on its side to drain and leave the wheat to sprout for 1-3 days or until the roots are 1-3 mm long. Keep the jar covered with muslin and rinse periodically to prevent the grains from drying out, and to remove harmful organisms.
    2. Fill the jar with water and ferment the culture for 1-2 days or until it has gone milky with a layer of froth on the surface.
    3. Decant the liquid and refrigerate.
    NOTE:
    1. It is possible for Rejuvelac to bad (as it is for sprouts and probably any fermented culture). You can generally tell if the rejuvelac is okay by the smell and taste. It should be acidic with a pH less than pH 3.9. It is good practice to observe, smell and taste the rejuvelac periodically to become accustomed to the changes that occur (as it is for any fermented culture). Rejuvelac should keep in the fridge for a week or more, and will gradually sweeten with time.
    2. All bacteria and yeasts have an optimum incubation temperature. Refrigeration will inhibit the growth of some organisms but may give an opportunity for others to flourish. Hot weather or high temperatures, may encourage the rapid growth of pathogenic organisms before the beneficial organisms get started, in which case the culture will smell putrid. If your culture goes off, then discard it, sterilise the jar and wait for cooler weather. In hot weather, it is feasible that a slight acidulation of the water with a little lemon juice at the start of the fermentation, may provide an environment less suited to pathogenic organisms.
    MEASUREMENTS
    1 teaspoon = 5 ml / 5 gm. 1 tablespoon = 15 ml / 15 gm. 15 tablespoons = 1 cup / 225 ml. 1 cup = 8 fluid oz / 225 ml. 1 US gallon = 3.6 litres. 1 lb = 16 oz / 454 gm. Temperature 20C = 68F. Conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius: °C = (°F - 32) / 1.8. Conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit: °F = °C × 1.8 + 32

    Further interesting information can be found here