I want to help you explore all about the large intestine today.
You know, we really know how to have a party around here, right? Who else in the world but us gets excited to learn about these intricacies of the digestive system?!
All About the Large Intestine
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I’ve talked a lot about the small intestine because of SIBO, so today the large is in the spotlight.
Though you might think that the large is bigger than the small intestine, it is in fact not. The large intestine has a larger diameter, but it’s not bigger in length.
And when someone refers to the colon, it’s another term for large intestine. However, while the colon takes up most of the large intestine total space (about 5 feet or the width of a queen-sized bed), the colon isn’t the only part of the large intestine. The other parts include the cecum, rectum, and anus. Your appendix sits at the junction between the small and large intestines.
But what exactly is the large intestine and what does it do?
What is the large intestine function?
The role of the large intestine is to receive the chyme from the small intestine through the ileocecal valve (also called the IC Valve, which I’ve talked about before). This happens via peristalsis, which I’ve also talked about at length.
Its role is to also extract extra water and prepares fiber and other waste to leave body through rectum and anus.
Mikael Häggström, M.D. – Author info – Reusing images by Connormah and Dflock / CC0
12 Large intestine fast facts
You might enjoy some of these 12 fast facts. You can save them by clicking HERE for later.
- The large intestine houses most gut bacteria and all microbiome organisms.
- The byproducts of bacteria create energy sources for the cells in the colon.
- Bacteria that makes its way from the colon to the small intestine and takes over is a cause of SIBO. And yes, you read that correctly; bacteria going from the large intestine to small intestine.
- In Ayurvedic medicine, the Vata dosha is associated with the colon and our bowel movements.
- Colitis occurs only in the large intestine; stems from chronic inflammation of the colon and rectum.
- When constipation occurs, that means more water is being absorbed and slower transit time is happening.
- And when there are looser stools, then less water is absorbed and faster transit time happens in the colon.
- Vitamin K is produced in the large intestine. Other vitamins (B vitamins, including biotin) are also produced here via fermentation of the bacteria.
- Water and electrolytes are absorbed here.
- Your large intestine can be removed. Removing some or all of it is known as a colectomy. A colectomy is done for things like colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, bowel obstruction, and more.
- Both PRObiotics and PREbiotics are great for colon health. I take them both on a daily basis. Religiously.
- There are no digestive enzymes produced here.
Fiber and Your Large Intestine
Fiber is the scary F-word in the gut healing community. On the other hand, it’s one of the most beautiful F-word’s for the gut health community.
I’ve been on both sides of this fence.
But here is what you need to know:
- While a low-fiber diet might be recommended for the SIBO, darling, please believe me when I say this: A low-fiber diet is not optimal for the long term because it will starve the good gut bacteria in the colon. And this bacteria is critical.
- Dr. Will Bulsiewicz says, “Fiber is the heart and soul of true gut healing, and true gut healing leads to better health in everything from your cardiovascular system to your brain health to your hormonal health. It’s really that powerful.” By the way, this comes from his book, Fiber Fueled, which is an incredible read.
- Fiber is one of my secrets for an optimal microbiome.
- “Fiber’s all that’s left at the very end of our digestive tract where these microbes live, so they’ve evolved to be very good at digesting it,” said Justin Sonnenburg, PhD.
- HERE is a list of soluble fibers that gut bacteria love to eat.
- A low-fiber diet has been linked to an increase in colon cancer. Only 5-10% of colon cancer is hereditary.
Understanding Gut Function Matters
I truly do think that talking about all these things matters. It’s easy to just know that you have a large intestine, colon, and even that bowel movements happen from there.
But knowing and understanding are two different things. I hope this post has helped you understand more about what this part of your digestive system does, makes, and how you can optimize it in order to thrive.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
- A Gutsy Girl’s Bible
- IBS or Colon Cancer
- Peek Into My Personal Onegevity Microbiome Report and Review
You will heal. I will help.