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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Columnist: Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu

Is your colon in good health?

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Dr. Bikeeyah Baht Ammi Kudiabor is the Medical Director of Life Scientists and Global Doctors at Takoradi, Anaji. The young and cute Medical Practitioner is a member of the Alternative Medical Association of Ghana (AMAG); the professional medical association for alternative medicine practitioners in Ghana.

She is a professional registered Naturopathic Doctor: specializes in colon health, Yoga, nutrition and hydrotherapy. She is always busy educating the public and managing patients with colon diseases. Well, you can check her out on Facebook for her education on colon health, Yoga and the rest.

One would ask why she has specialized in colon treatment. She does this because the colon is an important area in the body system. But we hardly hear any medical education on it. Recently, a renowned sport Journalist was diagnosed with colon cancer and eventually lost the war. It is very important we raise awareness on the colon and all the necessary preventive measures. So how do you maintain a healthy colon? Very important question but the answer is simple -Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber-good for the colon Health

Dietary fiber is produced by grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fiber is an indigestible form of carbohydrate, which humans cannot enzymatically break down. It functions to decrease colonic transit time by adding bulk to the stool and making it easier to pass.

Why increase Fiber Intake?

There are many good reasons to increase fiber intake. It may lower food intake; obesity is rare in populations where the diet is high in fiber. This may be due to lower calories in fiber or increased fullness. Soluble fiber binds cholesterol in the gut, which can lead to lowering of serum cholesterol. Although fiber can bind minerals in the gut, such as zinc, this may not be significant, provided that the person is consuming a diet with a variety of mineral-rich foods. Epidemiological studies have shown fiber to be protective against diverticular disease of the colon and colon cancer.

Diverticuli can develop in cases of repeated rises in intraluminal pressure in the rectum and sigmoid colon, as occurs in straining at stool. Fiber decreases the intraluminal pressure. Colon cancer can occur when carcinogens are in prolonged contact with the bowel; thus, the reduction of transit time can reduce the contact time of toxic substances. Fiber can also be beneficial for the colon in other ways. Fiber is fermented in the colon by bacteria that can break the linkages in the cellulose chain. The end products of this degradation include short chain fatty acids, such as butyrate and acetate. These molecules are an important energy source for the colonic mucosal cells. Intakes are lower in North America than they once were, partly due to a shift from whole grains to refined grain. Patients can get all the fiber they need from eating a whole food diet, with plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fiber supplements are also used by naturopathic physicians, including those containing psyllium.

Insoluble and Soluble Fiber

Fiber is divided into two basic kinds: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber includes cellulose and hemicellulose. These are components of plant cell walls found in bran, whole wheat flour, cabbage, peas and beans, and root vegetables. Soluble fiber, composed of nonstructural polysaccharides, includes pectins, gums, and mucilages. They have the ability to hold water and form gels. Pectins are found in apples, citrus fruits, carrots, sweet potato, and banana. Gums and mucilages are found in oatmeal, dried beans, and other legumes. The soluble fibers have the ability to bind cholesterol in the gut, as well as other substances, such as conjugated estrogens. They also slow gastric emptying which is beneficial for those with impaired glucose tolerance (diabetics), since it makes the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream more gradual.

Why also reducing Fiber Intake?

In some patients, fiber needs to be reduced, as in the case of Crohn's disease, because it can narrow segments of the intestine. The pulpy, undigested fiber material can become trapped in these narrow passes, leading to obstruction. Any disease with partial obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract may require lowered fiber, especially a reduction or avoidance of whole seeds or large flakes of bran.

Why Fruits and Vegetables are important?

Because they are very low in fat and high in dietary fiber, fruits and vegetables are emphasized in a naturopathic approach to food nutrition. In addition, they provide micronutrients - vitamins and minerals - needed to digest and absorb macronutrients. The form this will take can be adjusted to suit the person. Excessive fruit may yield too much sugar for some, including those with intestinal mycosis or poorly controlled diabetes.

Vegetables are easier to digest when cooked, which may be most desirable for some patients, while others will benefit from the bowel cleansing effect of raw vegetables.

Recommended Daily Fiber intake:

2 to 4 servings of fruit per day and 5 to 8 servings of vegetables per day. Dr. Kudiabor also focuses on hydrotherapy or water therapy. Do you think water is not important?

Water Intake

Patients often need to be encouraged to increase their water intake. Higher intake of fiber, especially in supplemental form, will require extra water.
Other causes for increased water intake include high levels of exercise or perspiration, which can lead to dehydration. The thirst mechanism does not always adequately indicate the proper amount of water needed. Patients who consume large amounts of protein will need to be adequately hydrated in order to dispose of nitrogenous waste or else their kidneys will be under excess stress. This is especially true of patients undergoing "high-protein" diets, usually for weight loss, although these diets may not be appropriate for certain patients. The use of laxatives or diuretics, including coffee, can increase water need. Filtered or spring water is preferred; distilled water is good for irons, but not people because it is devoid of minerals and can create a mineral imbalance when used for prolonged periods.

Recommended Daily Water Intake:

At least 2 L of water should be consumed daily. Excessive water is not needed, but most patients tend to be on the low side. The reason for this may be habit. If they keep a source of drinking water at hand throughout the day, they will have no difficulty in meeting their needs.