Anatomy & Physiology of the Colon
Your colon is made up of 7 parts that work together to cleanse the body:
(1) Transverse colon
(2) Ascending colon
(3) Descending Colon
(4) Ileocecal valves
(5) Cecum Valves
These seven parts of the colon work together to rid the body of toxins. The colon transfers nutrients into the bloodstream through the absorbent walls of the large intestine while pushing waste out of the body. In this process, digestive enzymes are released, water is absorbed by the stool, and a host of muscle groups and beneficial microorganisms work to maintain the digestive system.
The colon is actually just another name for the large intestine. The shorter of the two intestinal groups, the large intestine, consists of parts with various responsibilities. The names of these parts are: the transverse colon, ascending colon, appendix, descending colon, sigmoid colon, and the rectum and anus.
Transverse, Ascending, and Descending
The transverse, ascending, and descending colons are named for their physical locations within the digestive tract. Within these parts of the colon, contractions from smooth muscle groups work food material back and forth to move waste through the colon and eventually, out of the body. The intestinal walls secrete alkaline mucus for lubricating the colon walls to ensure continued movement of the waste.
The ascending colon travels up along the right side of the body. Due to waste being forced upwards, the muscular contractions working against gravity are essential to keep the system running smoothly. The next section of the colon is termed the transverse colon due to it running across the body horizontally. Then, the descending colon turns downward and becomes the sigmoid colon, followed by the rectum and anus.
The ileocecal valve is located where the small and large intestines meet. This valve is an opening between the small intestine and large intestine allowing contents to be transferred to the colon. The cecum follows this valve and is an opening to the large intestine.
The Rectum and Anus
The rectum is essentially a storage place for waste and is the final stop before elimination occurs. The “tone” of the muscles of the anal sphincter and a person’s ability to control this skeletal-muscular system are vital for regulating bowel movement urges. When elastic receptors within the rectum are stimulated, these nerves signal that defecation needs to occur. In other words, these muscle and nerve groups convey when a bowel movement is necessary but allow a person to control when waste will actually be removed, as the final step in the digestive process. The anus is the last portion of the colon, and is a specialized opening bound with elastic membranes, sensitive tissues, and muscles and nerves allowing it to stretch for removing bowel movements of varying sizes. If, for example, you suffer from constipation, these tissues can become damaged and lose their ability to function normally if waste has to be forced out or remains in the body for prolonged periods. So it’s definitely good practice to keep things moving along at a regular pace. Ideally, you should have two bowel movements per day but at least once a day is pretty good; anything less than that could spell trouble for not only your digestive health but general health as well.
Every day, at least two cups of food pass through the colon. The digestive tract absorbs and removes water, propels waste out of the body, and works to keep the body alkalized. That’s why a healthy colon is vital to good health. Be good to your body on the inside and out, by eating nutritious foods, drinking lots of water, exercising and getting plenty of rest.