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Colostomy can be a life-saving procedure, but its after-care can be complicated and unpleasant. A new medical food helps relieve one of the most common problems after the colostomy procedure. Lifestyle changes may protect against the need for it.

Alteration of the bacterial balance of the colon can even result in chronic depression and fatigue. Any condition involving chronic diarrhea lowers quality of life, and the general drain of constant symptoms sets the stage for serious complications of the previously mentioned bowel diseases. What most doctors won't tell their patients is that many, many other conditions, from atherosclerosis to excessive exercise, cause similar symptoms, and serum-derived bovine immunoglobulin/protein isolate, however, is not the only medicinal food that may help. Ways to deal with diarrhea, abdominal swelling, abdominal pain, and poor nutrient absorption include:

  • Lactoferrin. If you can't afford serum-derived immunoglobulin/protein isolate, you probably can afford lactoferrin, an over the counter supplement that performs many of the same functions.
  • Adequate hydration. You don't have to drink water until you slosh, but you do need to make sure you do not become dehydrated during heat or heavy exercise. The proteins that keep the lining of the bowel from "leaking" are stressed during dehydration.

  • Graduated training. Weekend warriors are more prone to bowel problems. A heavy workout for which your body is not prepared can activate heat shock proteins, which break down the lining of the bowel.
  • Short intense exercise, rather than long, moderate exercise. An astonishing number of elite athletes develop bowel conditions, sometimes serious bowel conditions that can result in hospitalization or even death. Usually the problem is a combination of dehydration and prolonged stress, running a marathon or participating in an Iron-Man or Iron-Woman competition. Dehydration leads to lower fluid volume, lower fluid volume leads to poorer blood flow through the inferior mesenteric artery to the left side of the colon, and poor circulation to the colon leads to severe inflammation of the lining of the colon. Treating this kind of inflammation will require intravenous fluids and, usually, antibiotics, and sometimes even colostomy, despite the absence of earlier symptoms of bowel disease. If you participate in an endurance sport, you need to pay careful attention to gut health, both by maintaining hydration and by appropriate attention to friendly bacteria.
  • A strain of bacteria called Akkermansia muciniphila helps renew the mucous lining of your colon. You don't need to take it as a supplement, but it can help to "feed" it with the fibers it uses for food. This restorative bacterium feeds on the fibers found in onions, garlic, bananas, and yams.
  • The kinds of bacteria that make an anti-inflammatory compound called butyrate thrive of amylopectin, a kind of resistant starch. This kind of starch is not easily broken down into sugar that raises blood sugar levels, but survives passage to the stomach to go to the colon (or, in the case of people who have had colostomies) pouch, where it feeds anti-inflammatory bacteria. Resistant starch is found in well-boiled potatoes, well-boiled (not steamed) white (not brown) rice, and cooked plantains. These carbohydrate foods are beneficial in the diet not because they feed you, but because they feed your bacteria.

If you have inflammatory bowel disease and you have had a colostomy, you will benefit from these simple interventions. If you are a serious athletic competitor and haven't had a colostomy (and don't want to ever have to have one), you will also benefit from these simple interventions. Even people in excellent physical condition need to pay attention to bowel health, especially before they participate in high-stress, high-performance athletic competition.

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