The large intestine (bowel, colon) is the last part of the digestive system. Waste matter passes to the beginning of the large intestine, the caecum. Water is needed to help food particles move along the intestine and stop it drying out. The appendix is near the caecum and has lymphatic cells to carry away toxins which are important for immunity. These lymphatic cells are most active when you are a child and teenager. Appendicitis is the result of a blockage that traps infectious material in the appendix.

Waste material moves up the ascending colon and the colon’s function is to move waste and absorb water and any remaining absorbable nutrients which are created by the colonic bacteria – such as vitamin K and the B vitamins. Important flora helps the absorption of some nutrients and aids in keeping bad bugs away. There are over 700 different types of good flora in the large and small intestine weighing about 2 kg. Waste material that has no purpose in the body moves across the transverse colon and down the descending colon to the rectum and is evacuated as faeces via the anus. If you have a prolapsed transverse colon, going on a slant board for 20 minutes a day and consuming silica rich foods is helpful as is colonic hydrotherapy. The large intestine is over 1.5 metres long and a lot wider than the small intestine. It has muscles with folds that help it move in a wave like action called peristalsis.

The large intestine takes about 16 hours to finish the digestion of food. Lack of magnesium can cause spasms in the large intestine. Colic, diarrhoea and pain can occur from irritation of the bowel wall. Often if there is pain, it comes a few hours after eating. There is a lot more on food in chapters 11 and 12.

Foods that help the large intestine

Magnesium rich foods help with spasms and cramps, like buckwheat, brown rice, nuts and seeds.

Protein and silica rich foods help strengthen the connective tissue on the bowel wall. Eggs, fish, beans, legumes, whole grains, horsetail tea, vegetables and fruits help.

Liquorice and turmeric help with inflammation.

Fermented foods help flora.

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