The colon, or large intestine, receives water and undigested food products from the small intestine. Its function is to absorb water and to solidify the stool into a formed bolus which can be easily passed. If one ingests insufficient amounts of fiber in his diet, constipation may develop. Fiber is anything not digested or absorbed by the small intestine and which passes into the colon. Bran is one example of fiber.
The large intestine measures approximately 1.5 meters in length. Although there are differences in the large intestine between different organisms, the large intestine is mainly responsible for storing waste, reclaiming water, maintaining the water balance, absorbing some vitamins, such as vitamin K, and providing a location for flora-aided fermentation.
By the time the chyme has reached this tube, most nutrients and 90% of the water have been absorbed by the body. At this point some electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, and chloride are left as well as indigestible parts of ingested food. As the chyme moves through the large intestine, most of the remaining water is removed, while the chyme is mixed with mucus and bacteria (known as gut flora), and becomes feces.
The bacteria break down some of the fiber for their own nourishment and create acetate, propionate, and butyrate as waste products, which in turn are used by the cell lining of the colon for nourishment. The large intestine produces no digestive enzymes - chemical digestion is completed in the small intestine before the chyme reaches the large intestine.
Disorders of The Colon
Diagnosing Colon Disorders
Your physician may wish to investigate a problem with your colon by performing one of the following procedures: