Elimination, Kidneys & Colon (or Large Intestine)
The first of the elimination organs are the kidneys. The kidneys filter most of the fluids in the body and regulate the mineral, salt, sugar, water and toxin levels, depending on the amount of water consumed and work performed.
Surprisingly, at any one time, the kidneys can hold almost 25 percent of the blood circulating around the body and filters about one litre (2.2 pints) every eight minutes.
The kidneys’ main function is to remove one to two litres (two to four pints) of waste daily from the blood and return the cleaned blood back into the body, excreting the waste through urine and in the process, also maintains correct mineral and body fluid levels.
The kidneys also produce red blood cells and balance the absorption, re-absorption and excretion of sodium salts, potassium salts, calcium, water and hormones regulating blood pressure. If we overeat, drink too much alcohol, or work excessively hard and perspire greatly causing dehydration, the kidneys over the next day (or so) should compensate and balance out the optimum fluid, salt and glucose levels. Often the kidneys will recirculate minerals to maintain body balance, and then excrete them when no longer needed.
AIM Peak Endurance®* stimulates blood flow without increasing heart rate or blood pressure and contains six major electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and chloride), along with B vitamins to help maintain proper balance.
Sugar and Kidneys
Over consumption of sugar will have a detrimental effect on the kidneys. The fructose component of sugar stimulates the body to produce uric acid (an antioxidant, but when produced in excess, becomes a waste product usually removed through urine and faeces) which, if the kidneys fail to function optimally, can accumulate in the joints causing gout or arthritis. Uric acid also leads to chronic inflammation of the body’s organs, which is the precursor to high blood pressure (hypertension), heart attacks and strokes. Uric acid clogs the small blood vessels inside the kidneys, leading to renal failure where the only solution is usually regular kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant. Kidney disease is the major cause of hospitalisation in Australia.
Vitamin 1,25D and the Kidneys
The best form of vitamin D is ‘activated 1,25D’ (hormone 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin-D). Vitamin D is initially produced by sunlight hitting the skin (or from food or supplements containing vitamin D), then transferred to the liver where it is stored. When needed (triggered by the parathyroid glands behind the thyroid), vitamin D passes onto the kidneys, where enzymes convert it into vitamin 1,25D which only has a life of just 6–8 hours, but is 1000 times more active than stored vitamin D which can be present in the body for 20 days or more.
Importance of Sunlight
Just 15–20 minutes of direct sunlight on the skin (not through glass or sunscreen) is enough to create sufficient vitamin D each day. If you are unable to obtain this, then food sources or supplementation is a good idea.
Too much sunlight in one ‘sitting’ may cause your skin to burn and should be totally avoided. Applying 30+ sunscreen on children every time they venture outdoors for short periods is not supportive either as most sunscreens are made of chemicals the skin readily absorbs. Also, when the sun strikes the skin for a short period, it initiates the production of melanin in the skin which develops a protective tan, giving long-term protection to the skin. If the sun’s rays are blocked every time, the skin doesn’t develop any long-term protection and is more likely to burn under any amount of sun exposure.
Lack of sun exposure on the skin can also compromise the immune system and can encourage food allergies. Children need education about sun protection, not sun fear, suppression and restriction.
According to The China Study, the impact of minimal sunlight is demonstrated in multiple sclerosis (MS), which is about sevenfold more prevalent in southern Tasmania (43ºS) than Townsville (19ºS) in Queensland, Australia.
Vitamin D’s Function
Vitamin 1,25D is a vital hormone as indicated by its responsibilities for maintaining proper operation of the parathyroid glands, muscle, pancreas, bone, intestines, heart, kidneys and the brain.
Correct levels of 1,25D and vitamin D can prevent cells from becoming diseased. Diseases related to vitamin D deficiency are multiple sclerosis (MS), osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, schizophrenia, prostate/breast/ovarian and colon cancer, diabetes and obesity.
Vitamin 1,25D, Calcium and Dairy
Adequate amounts of 1,25D are needed to enable calcium to be absorbed. Ingested animal protein (especially dairy) blocks the ability of the kidneys to produce the enzymes needed to convert vitamin D into 1,25D, therefore inhibits the production of vitamin 1,25D and consequently the absorption of calcium. Milk in itself inhibits calcium’s own absorption and contains antibiotics (growth hormones) which inhibit gut flora production in the colon, compromising the immune system (see ‘Gut Flora and Bacteria’ later).
Overconsumption of dairy and animal products may cause 1,25D to reduce activation and a build-up of unprocessed calcium can occur in the kidneys. Unprocessed calcium, oxalate and uric acid can form kidney stones. These can be very painful when trying to pass through the urethra and sometimes requires hospitalisation and laser surgery. Vegans rarely get kidney stones.
This is where the dairy industry’s claim of “milk being good for your bones” fails; in fact they don’t mention bones anymore. Vitamin D in milk is depleted during pasteurisation, negating calcium absorption down to about 8 percent. The dairy industry knows this and produces milk blends or drinks fortified with vitamin D and calcium (that they no longer call ‘milk’). Have a look for the word ‘milk’ on the carton of milk-blends next time you’re at a shop.
Coupled with this is the fact that milk is inherently acidic and is inclined to draw calcium from bones.
The over-consumption of milk is considered to be as important a contributor to MS as sunlight. Chronic milk drinkers also have four times greater risk of prostate cancer than men who don’t ingest dairy regularly.
One of the main contributors to low-density bones is an acidic system produced through stress and an unsupportive diet consisting of large amounts of animal products (especially dairy) and sugar. Calcium is alkaline in nature and is drawn from the bones to help balance acid levels in the body.
Whilst the glands, kidneys, liver and skin should do their best to balance the calcium and vitamin D content in the body, you can assist by ingesting the recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium which is around 1200mg for an adult over 50 and less for younger people. It’s not supportive to ingest more than your RDI of calcium.
AIM CalciAIM®* introduces ionic calcium to the body which is the only form of calcium that is absorbable, making AIM CalciAIM®* 98 percent absorbable. As we age, our ability to create ionic calcium in the stomach and produce vitamin 1,25D in the kidneys is diminished and our body tends to draw on calcium stores from the bones to meet its requirements.
After menopause, by the age of 65, some women have lost 50 percent of their skeletal mass. On average, 50 percent of women and 25 percent of men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis related fracture; however, you don’t have to be average. AIM CalciAIM®* also contains magnesium, zinc, copper and vitamins D, A and C.
Colon – Large Intestine
The colon is also referred to as the large intestine, large bowel or sometimes more simply as “the bowel” (which can also refer to the gut in general). To avoid confusion, I will refer to it as the colon. When I mention ‘the bowel’ I will be referring to the small and large intestines together.
Also note that if the colon, kidneys or both are overwhelmed, dysfunctional or diseased and cannot handle the load of waste and toxins to be eliminated, the body can use mucus, lungs, the skin, eyes, mouth, hair and any external body orifice to eliminate as well.
The colon is about 1.5 meters (5 ft) long and 6.5 cm (2½ in) in diameter. Of the 11 litres (2.5 gal) of food and liquid ingested every day by the average Australian or American, only about 350 ml (12 oz or 1½ cups) reaches the colon. The rest is absorbed and used for energy and body functions (for example water for urine) or stored as fat or toxins.
Unlike the small intestine where the internal surface is lined with villi, the colon has a smooth internal surface lubricated by mucus.
Water and water-soluble vitamins B6, B12 and C are absorbed into the liver from the colon for use in the body and are not stored. Therefore, they require ingestion regularly.
The first part of the colon is the cecum which is a ‘blind area’ just below the entry point of the small intestine into the colon. Because this area is ‘blind’ (not in the flow of the chyme/faeces), often parasites can live quite nicely there. Tapeworms are known to anchor in the cecum and reach into the transverse colon for nutrition. Colonoscopies often don’t find parasites in the colon as the scope does not turn down into the ascending colon as far as the cecum.
The time chyme or faeces sits in the cecum depends on its consistency (water content) and the amount of roughage (fibre) contained. The more fibre, the quicker the faeces should be moved up the ascending colon; relieving constipation.
Attached to the cecum is the appendix, which on occasion can become infected (appendicitis) due to lack of fibre and good bacteria and can require removal by surgery. For most of medical history, it was believed the appendix has no use; however research by Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina USA has shown that after a bout of diarrhoea and the expulsion of the offending bacteria, the reserves of good bacteria stored in the appendix are used to repopulate the colon.
The cecum extracts the majority of the water from the chyme, turning it into faeces, which is a thicker, pastier material; allowing the faeces to be manoeuvred up the colon using a series of muscle contractions and stretches called peristalsis (snake-like movement).
The more fibre in the faeces, the easier it is for the colon wall to push against the faeces and move the stool up the ascending colon, thus negating one of the causes of constipation.
From the cecum, the faeces is pushed up the ascending colon where most of the gut flora is mixed with water and the remainder of the nutrients are extracted. It then travels around the first bend (right hepatic flexure), which is attached near the back of the ribcage.
The faeces then travels along the transverse colon and at about the halfway point, the faeces becomes more solid and is readied for elimination. Also at the halfway point, gut flora begins to outlive its usefulness, dissipates and is excreted with the faeces. In a healthy colon, new gut flora should then be produced in the ascending colon to treat the next meal.
Descending and Sigmoid Colon
Beyond the halfway point in the transverse colon, the faeces should be a solid stool and move towards the second bend (left splenic flexure, again attached near the ribcage), then down the descending colon towards the sigmoid which is slightly ‘S’ shaped, but narrower than the descending colon. However, the sigmoid expands to hold faeces which is about to be released when the time and place is right. There is very little gut bacterium in this area of the colon and water is continually being extracted from any stagnant faeces, exacerbating constipation.
If the bowel is constipated, the descending colon and sigmoid area can expand to house the extra faeces waiting to be released, this can cause diverticulitis and segmentation as you will read later.
Rectum and Anus
To release faeces, the small internal sphincter muscle known as the rectum opens, and the stool is released through the anus. The anus is the external opening that you would see if we had a long-enough neck or a strategically placed mirror:). I will spare you from listing the colloquial terms for anus for obvious reasons.
There is no blood within the digestive and eliminations system (from mouth to anus), which is about 9 metres (10 yards) long. So if blood shows in your stool, you should take special note! Most often, blood in the stool can indicate haemorrhoids, but may also indicate something more sinister (like polyps or colitis which can turn cancerous) and you should seek advice from your healthcare professional.
The internal lining of the colon wall has a smooth mucus coating, which is continually replenished and binds and lubricates the faeces to slide along the colon wall. Consuming insufficient water can cause this mucus to become thicker, stickier and more viscid, which can form mucoid plaque and compound constipation.
Gut Flora and Bacteria
We are continually bombarded with advertising telling us that bacteria (commonly known as germs) are bad for us. Regular contact with unfriendly bacteria can be a good thing, as this builds, exercises and strengthens the immune system, creating antibodies to fight infection.
Overall, society tends to believe the advertising and purchase disinfectants, antibacterial sprays and soaps that kill both friendly and unfriendly bacteria. Over time, this can compromise the body’s immune system making us more susceptible to disease and allergies.
Bacteria outnumber cells in the body by ten to one. The body contains around 10 trillion cells and 100 trillion bacteria weighing around 1.8kg (4lbs). Bacteria are much smaller than cells and the majority are mostly housed in the bowel (especially the colon).
The digestive system is responsible for the functioning of about 80 percent of the immune system. Immune system cells in the brain are activated by cytokines created in the bowel through proper delta-brainwave sleep and food. Stress levels may also impact on the quality and quantity of cytokines. Therefore, the lack of quality sleep (for example as a consequence of snoring) and a compromised digestion system may have a significant effect on the body’s overall health and susceptibility to infectious diseases. Because I work from home and my lifestyle allows, I have a ‘siesta’ after lunch which gives me a boost for my afternoon’s work.
AIM Proancynol® helps boost the immune system through a combination of green tea, grape seed extract, alpha-lipoic acid and other powerful antioxidants that help fight free radicals.
Bacteria in the colon can be called different names: probiotics, good or bad bacteria, acidophilus, micro flora, gut flora, and friendly and unfriendly bacteria. I mostly use the highlighted terms.
Around one third of the faecal matter the body should pass every day is made up of the body’s own gut flora (friendly and unfriendly bacteria), designed to assist with digestion and guide the body towards better health. Another third consists of undigested food we’ve eaten (fibre), but if our diet is acidic and high in sugar, the fibre could be replaced with food that your body has not been able to digest due to the fermentation process that sugar introduces. The remaining third is waste removed from the body via the blood and bile (dead cells and toxins).
Under normal conditions, the ascending colon produces its own gut flora assisted by the appendix. This friendly lactobacillus, acidophilus bifida bacterium (amongst others) produces vitamin K2, B6, B12, folic acid and supportive amino acids. However, because of today’s unsupportive (acidic) western diet and lifestyle, much of the friendly bacteria are destroyed by antibiotics (in dairy products and medicines), alcohol, stress, sugar, food and so on.
Counter-intuitively, unfriendly bacteria thrives in an alkaline colon of 7.1 pH and higher but also loves animal protein and sugar. Unfriendly bacteria produce acidic bodies, hazardous chemicals and toxins as well as gas, providing the most offensive flatulence.
If the body does not produce enough of its own friendly bacteria, symptoms like flatulence, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, lowered immune system and depression can evolve. This can be known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Chemical laxatives, medications and eating food such as sugar, fruit juice, dairy and most processed food support unfriendly bacteria like candida yeast and fungi. Drinking chlorinated tap water may also kill friendly bacteria.
You can help support the bacteria in the bowel by eating vegetables that encourage friendly bacteria. Vegetables contain fibre and friendly bacteria actually feeds on fibre. The metabolic process of properly digesting vegetables actually produces chemicals that act like weedkillers towards unfriendly yeast and fungi. You can also eat fermented food like sauerkraut, olives, miso soup, vinegars, pickles, raw natural yoghurt and fermented soy sauce, which contain and encourage friendly bacteria. Contrary to advertising and popular belief, most commercially produced yoghurt does not support gut bacteria greatly due to the pasteurisation process and added sugar and flavourings.
Try eating as organically as possible. The sprays and pesticides used on normal supermarket vegetables are designed to kill bacteria and are not conducive to a healthy bowel.
You can also introduce friendly bacteria daily through supplementation. Of the more than 100 species of friendly bacteria, only around ten (including the commonly known lactobacillus, acidophilus and bifida bacterium) can be implanted into the colon through ingestion.
These are commonly known as probiotics (as opposed to ‘kill everything’ antibiotics). Again, counter-intuitively, as the name acidophilus would suggest, these friendly bacteria thrive in an acidic colon environment, between 5.5–6.5 pH, but support the body by aiding in the establishment of a more-alkaline body.
One Last Tip!
It’s supportive if you double your dose of probiotics when travelling overseas to help counteract the new and different bacteria you may encounter during your journey.