The Colon , also known as the Large Intestine or Bowel, is a key part of the excretory system, and is responsible for helping to process and eliminate waste material and bacteria from the body.
When digested food passes through the colon, the colon absorbs water and mineral salts (such as sodium) from the material which helps the body to maintain correct fluid and electrolyte levels and avoid dehydration.
The colon is approximately 5 feet long and 2Ã‚Â½ inches in diameter, and is a large part of the digestive tract that connects the Small Intestine to the Rectum.
Segments of the Colon
There are four main segments of the colon, three of which are named according to their orientation in the human body, as follows:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Ascending Colon,
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Transverse Colon,
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Descending Colon,
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Sigmoid Colon,
In a normal, healthy colon, billions of “good” bacteria inhabit the colon and help it to function properly.
However, a number of factors, including:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Caffeine and other drinks,
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Exposure to toxic substances,
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Poor diet,
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Various drugs
can all upset the delicate balance of this internal ecosystem, causing it to become clogged or process waste less efficiently.
If the colon becomes clogged with waste material, then it cannot function properly, and a range of health issues can occur, including:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Abdominal pain,
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Lack of energy
In extreme cases, the fecal matter can create toxins which spread into the body via the fluids that the colon absorbs, and these toxins can cause a range of serious health complications.
Image: Digestive system. Wellcome Images Creative Commons Attribution.
Did you like this article? Then you'll really want to sign up for my newsletter. It's delivered several times a week and packed with science news and analysis. Subscribe Here.