Fewer than 10 percent of colon cancers are hereditary, which means that lifestyle is a major factor. Therefore, good nutrition is an important piece of good colon health. The colon is a part of your large intestine, and its main function is to reabsorb fluids and to prepare waste products for removal. The following tips are to help keep all five feet of your colon working efficiently for you.
It is important to begin thinking about limiting your intake of processed meats as well as fatty cuts of red meat. These meats are very high in saturated fat (fat that is solid at room temperature). Other factors that may be a cause for concern include the high heme iron content (found in blood and muscle) as well as the chemical changes that can occur when meats are smoked or cured.
Not all fat is off limits though! Just choose unsaturated fats more often, such as fish, nuts, plant-based oils, flaxseed and avocados. Research published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology noted that healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish (such as salmon) can decrease colon cancer risk by 12 percent.
It’s always a good idea to load up on fruits and vegetables. Choosing a variety of colors is a great place to start. Each color family has its own combination of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and other antioxidants to help keep your healthy cells healthy. However, make sure you are choosing yellow and orange vegetables more often, for they have been linked to show strong anti-colon cancer characteristics. Orange and yellow vegetables are higher in beta-carotene; these include carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and summer squash, and have been linked to lower rates of colon cancer.
A high fiber diet is a wonderful way to cleanse your colon, or sometimes it can be referred to as your body’s scrub brush. Fiber helps to keep you regular and prevent constipation, which in turn offers protective benefits. The recommended servings of fiber per day is 25 to 35 grams; on average, Americans eat approximately 13 to 15 grams per day. The best way to increase your fiber intake is by adding whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat bread, vegetable, fruits, nuts, seeds and beans.
Keep your weight in check! There is a strong correlation between obesity and having a higher risk of getting colon cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that the links between diet, weight, exercise and colorectal cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer.
Even if you choose to follow all of the tips provided, continue to make screening a priority. The most powerful way to prevent colon cancer is through screening. According to the Colon Cancer Foundation, if detected early, up to 95 percent of colorectal cancers are curable.
Shantel Pluid, RD, LD is a registered dietitian at Boundary Community Hospital.