According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the third most common form of cancer in the United States. About one in every 20 people, or five percent of the American population has higher risk of developing this type of cancer.
A history of colon cancer in the family, age, racial and ethnic background, and unhealthy lifestyles could contribute to colon cancer. Did you know that what you have sitting on your meal table could be the reason why you are at risk?
Discover the link between diet and colon cancer, and then check out these 15 prevention tips to help you eat better to protect yourself from colon cancer.
1. A Weighty Connection: Understanding the Link Between Obesity and Colon Cancer
Obesity is one of the risk factors for colorectal cancer, which affects both men and women. Excess weight comes with increased levels of insulin in your blood, which leads to insulin resistance. When this happens, it could pave the way to the development of tumors, including tumors in the colon.
You can do something to minimize the risks, though. According to the Colon Cancer Foundation, you can reduce the risks of developing colon cancer by up to 75 percent through a healthy lifestyle, particularly healthy eating. Believe it or not, most colon cancer cases are due to lifestyle and not hereditary.
Here’s what this means:
Good nutrition is crucial to whether or not you are at risk of colon cancer. Consequently, good nutrition means good colon health, as well. Keep on reading to learn your diet do’s and don’ts to minimize your risks.
2. Water: A Simple But Effective Way to Keep Your Colon Clean and Healthy
Your mother’s voice might be echoing in your brain right now. When you were younger, she always told you to drink eight glasses of water everyday to flush toxins from your body. Now that you are older, you understand why – and promise to drink more than your usual water intake.
Here’s the truth: drinking water has tons of health benefits, especially for your colon. It may sound simple, but drinking at least eight glasses could do a lot to your colon.
- Water helps dietary fiber swell up as it passes through your digestive system, allowing it to brush toxins away.
- Drinking water promotes peristalsis, or wave-like muscular contractions that help regulate bowel movements.
- Water encourages urination, which flushes toxins from your body.
Drinking water doesn’t have to be a chore. Check out these simple tips to increase your water intake:
- Drink water 30 minutes before eating.
- Make water accessible by always bringing a water bottle wherever you go.
- Keep a pitcher or bottle of water on your bedside table in case thirst knocks at your door.
- Eat water-enriched foods, like watermelon, celery, grapes, oranges and tomatoes.
- Add more punch to your water with lemon, lime, apple or cucumber slices.
- Keep your water cold to encourage you to drink more of it.
3. Choose Your Fats Wisely for a Healthier Colon
There are two kinds of fats: the good ones and the bad ones. When it comes to fats, make sure to get rid of saturated and trans fats in your diet. A study published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology reported that unhealthy saturated fats increases your risks of colon cancer. This includes:
- Deep Fried Foods
- Pie Crust
- Red Meat
- Store-Bought Cakes and Cookies
Here’s what type of fat you should eat to make sure your colon is in tip-top shape:
Choose unsaturated fats. According to the American Heart Association, polyunsaturated fats lower your blood cholesterol and improve the health of cells. At the same time, it is good for your heart and decreases the colon cancer risk by 12 percent.
Here are unsaturated or good fats you should add in your diet:
- Olives and Olive Oil
- Sunflower Seeds
- Fatty Fish: Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna
- Leafy Greens: Kale, Broccoli, Spinach
4. Start Saying No to Red and Processed Meat to Boost Your Colon Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) shocked the world when they said that processed meat causes cancer, including colorectal cancer. Apparently, this is surprising news to most people.
It turns out that processed meats, including fatty cuts of red meat and packaged lunch meat are rich in saturated fat. You already know that saturated fat increases the risks of colon cancer. A study published in the Current Colorectal Cancer Report showed that for every 100 grams of red meat everyday, your colon cancer risk increases by 14 percent.
Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you have to be a vegetarian. You can still enjoy meat and keep your colon healthy by following these techniques:
- Limit red meat to 18 ounces a week.
- Say goodbye to your favorite processed food like bacon, sausage and hotdogs.
- Switch to healthier alternatives, like lean pork or skinless bacon.
Read on to find out what type of protein you should eat to minimize the risk of colon cancer.
5. Lean Meat: Your Best Choice of Protein to Keep Colon Cancer Away
You already know that red and processed meat could boost your chances of getting colon cancer. It is not just about the saturated fat content, but also the additional pounds you will gain, which can lead to colon cancer – or any other health condition.
Therefore, choose your protein wisely and switch to lean variants. You can go for leaner animal proteins or plant-based products instead of the usual beef cuts you buy in the grocery. Examples of these are:
- Omega-3 Rich Fish: Tuna, Salmon
- White Meat Poultry
- Soy Food
- Nuts and Seeds
- Lean Cuts of Beef: Top Loin, Top Sirloin
- Lean Cuts of Pork: Tenderloin, Pork Loin
The good thing about making a switch to lean meat is that it helps you maintain a healthy weight, thereby minimizing your risk of obesity. This lowers your chances of developing colon cancer, too.
You know apples are good for your health, but read on to learn why they aren’t enough.
6. Why You Need More Than Just an Apple a Day to Keep Colon Cancer Away
When it comes to colon cancer, you need more than just an apple a day. In this case, you might want to consider loading up on other fruits and veggies, too.
A recent study shows that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables could lower your colon cancer risk by 25 percent. This is because fruits and veggies help protect the different parts of your colon against cancer. Each fruit and vegetable has its own set of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals to keep your colon healthy.
On your next trip to the grocery story, make sure to stock your pantry with leafy greens, and yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, which will be discussed thoroughly as you go through this article. Always go for real and natural foods instead of the processed or packed ones, which are readily available and make your life easier in terms of meal planning.
The bottom line is more colorful your plate is, the better your chances of protecting yourself against this deadly disease.
7. It’s All Good: When Your Colon Meets Yellow and Orange
There is emphasis on the importance of keeping your plate colorful. To make sure you are getting enough color on your plate, don’t forget to shop for yellow and orange fruits and veggies. This is because fruits and veggies of this color are essential against colon cancer – thanks to their B vitamin content.
B vitamins play an important role in DNA synthesis and repair. Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are also rich in beta-carotene, a type of antioxidant linked to lower rates of cancer. This antioxidant, together with other antioxidants like carotene and lute in, helps your body fight free radicals, which could contribute to cancer development.
What are you waiting for? When in the supermarket, make sure to include carrots, squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and other yellow and orange fruits and veggies. Your body will reward you for sure.
8. Fill Up on Fiber to Keep Your Colon and Intestinal Tract Healthier
Whether you are trying to lose weight, looking for a way to help you maintain your weight, or you want to prevent colon cancer from paying you an unwelcomed visit, fiber will always be a way to help you do all of those.
Fiber plays a crucial role in digestion, which your body must get 25 to 35 grams every day. It helps your body move the food you ate through the digestive tract, reduces your serum cholesterol, and helps in your disease protection.
The question is what do these characteristics have to do with colon cancer prevention? Will they lower your risk of colon cancer?
The answer is no. The truth is, fiber-rich foods will not directly lower your risks. However, fiber comes with many health benefits, which ensures that your colon and intestinal tract are at their best. At the same time, fiber:
- Promotes satiety, thereby preventing overeating.
- Aids colon health to facilitate proper bowel movement and reduces constipation.
- Lowers the risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon, which could lead to diverticular disease.
What are your best choices for fiber-rich foods? Check out this list and slowly increase your fiber intake with the help of these foods:
- Brown Rice
- Fiber-Rich Fruits: Apples, Bananas, Pears, Raspberries
- Fiber-Rich Vegetables: Artichokes, Broccoli, Peas
- Whole Grains
9. Say Hello to Vitamin D for Your Colon Cancer Prevention Plan
How often do you go out and say hello to Mr. Sun? If you don’t get enough sun exposure for at least 15 to 20 minutes a day, then you might be at a higher risk for colon cancer.
What is vitamin D anyway, and how can it help against colon cancer?
Vitamin D is vital in keeping your teeth and bones strong and healthy. However, it could also be among your first line of defense to make sure that your health won’t meet colon cancer along the way. Vitamin D inhibits the growth of tumor cells, stimulates cell death, and prevents the proliferation of cancer cells in your body. It also helps in maintaining a normal calcium gradient in your colon to keep it healthy and functioning well.
Aside from the sun, you get vitamin D from many foods, including:
- Egg Yolks
- Canned Fish
- Fortified Milk
- Breakfast Cereals
- Non-Fat or Reduced Fat Milk
- Almond Milk
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Beef Liver
10. Take it Easy on the Booze to Give Your Colon Health a Boost
Alcohol is often associated with celebration and festivities. Can you imagine a party without cocktails? The party could still be fun, but it won’t be the same without a little bit of booze in there.
Unfortunately, too much alcohol is bad for your colon and overall health. Keep in mind that alcohol is an irritant, which can cause damage to the cells in the digestive tract and liver. At the same time, a can of beer could give you 356 wasted calories, while one glass of red wine comes with 148 calories. This could contribute to your weight and there is a strong tie between obesity and colon cancer.
Should you stop drinking alcohol? It’s up to you, although if you can, then why not. Otherwise, a little alcohol when the occasion calls for it is fine. Just make sure you don’t overdo it to minimize your risk. More importantly, practice self discipline and stick to up to two glasses only.
11. Facing Your Love-Hate Relationship Between Cooking Methods and Colon Cancer
Gone are the days when you have to eat food in its raw form. Thankfully, our ancestors discovered fire and from there, various cooking methods started such as frying, grilling, baking, roasting and broiling. This makes food easier to chew and digest, and at the same time, minimizes possible allergic reactions.
Speaking of cooking methods, did you know that how you cook and prepare your food increases your risk of colon cancer?
Cooking methods like burning and charring creates carcinogenic substances, also known as the black marks on your meat. This could increase your development of colon cancer.
What if you enjoy barbecue sessions and prefer eating grilled food? Then that is fine. Simple make sure you follow these guidelines before eating your favorite grilled food:
- Place meat in foil and grill your meat in the foil to minimize burning.
- When reheating food in the microwave, make sure to remove it from the container to release carcinogens.
- Use wax paper, not plastic wrap, when covering food to cook in your microwave.
- Say yes to microwave-safe containers.
- Avoid eating the charred or blackened area on your food.
Aside from grilling, you can try other methods of cooking, such as steaming, roasting, broiling and baking to minimize carcinogens on the food you will eat.
12. Go for Grains But Choose Them Wisely
Whole grains deserve a spot in your meal plan. They are healthy, good for weight management, and aid in the digestion process to minimize the risk of colon cancer. Even experts recommend three to five servings of whole grains daily to make sure you supply your body with naturally occurring nutrients.
The question is what type of whole grains is good for colon health?
Whole grains include:
- Brown Rice
- Whole Wheat Flour
- Wild Rice
These whole grains contain color-friendly vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, antioxidants and phytochemicals to ensure your colon is in its best state. Given this list, make sure to get rid of, or at least minimize refined grains, like white rice, white bread and white flour. Refined grains won’t help with weight management, and may even contribute to additional pounds, which is not your aim.
13. What You Need to Know About the Effects of Sugar and Its Relationship With Colon Cancer
There are various reasons why you should avoid sugar:
- It contains no essential nutrients.
- Added sugar like fructose and glucose can overload your liver. This could also lead to fatty liver disease.
- Sugar causes insulin resistance, which can progress to Type II diabetes.
- Because of the constantly elevated insulin, sugar can contribute to cancer.
- Sugar comes with fat-promoting effects.
What’s the bottom line: take it easy on your sugar intake. Sure, it makes your life sweeter and food yummier but if you care about your colon, you will take it easy.
Is there a way to make your food sweeter without resorting to sugar? The answer is yes. Some of the best sugar alternatives are:
- Raw Honey
- Whey Low
There’s more colon cancer prevention tips in store for you. Keep on reading to learn more about them.
14. Drink Your Milk: The Surprising Effects of Milk on Your Colon
Are you looking for a simple way to make you feel better? Then grab a cookie and glass of warm milk, and it will surely make you feel better. However, milk is more than just providing you with calcium and helping you get rid of the blues. If you want to keep your colon healthy, then milk can be your best friend.
A study published in the Journal of Dairy Science revealed that milk consumption could protect yourself against colon cancer progression. In the said study, experts said that drinking milk reduces DNA damage and promotes cell cycle. This could lead to cancer-preventive effects and ensures that your colon is happy.
Despite this study, this doesn’t mean you should increase your milk intake. Calcium intake must not exceed 2,000 milligrams since this could even lead to prostate cancer for men. If you are not into milk, then get your dose of calcium from other sources like leafy greens.
15. Try the Vegetarian Diet to Lower Your Colon Cancer Risks
Earlier in this article, there was emphasis on stocking your pantry with fruits and vegetables. In fact, the colorful your plate is, the better your chances will be against colon cancer.
So, why should you follow a vegetarian diet, especially if you want to keep your colon healthy?
Believe it or not, following a vegetarian diet decreases your colorectal risk by up to 22 percent. When you combine fatty fish on your meals, you can even reduce the risk by as much as 43 percent. You have to give credit to the dietary patterns, which decreases insulin and insulin-like growth factors – two hormones linked to colorectal cancer.
That’s not all. Plants foods have extra beneficial nutrients like calcium, folate and fiber, which aids in proper digestion and colon health.
Apparently, making a switch is not as easy as it seems, especially if you got used to meat and rice. Here are tips to help you get started with vegetarian diet:
- Reduce, if not eliminate, red meat and processed food in your household.
- Make a gradual shift towards this type of diet.
- Start small – Slowly eliminate animal food sources and replace them with plant-based proteins, such as nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains.
- Stop building your menu based solely on animal food sources, like chicken and meat.
- Place a healthy variety of plant-based proteins on your plate.
- Cut back on the sugar intake to stop insulin from encouraging the growth of cancer.
In Conclusion: What You Can Do Today
There are various factors that could dictate whether or not you will have colon cancer. Age and history in the family are some, but what goes inside your body has a direct effect on this type of condition.
Therefore, make healthy lifestyle and eating choices and follow these 15 colon cancer prevention tips to keep your colon safe and processing properly. It may seem challenging at first considering what you have to give up. Once you get used to it, your health and your colon will surely reward you back.
Knock, knock. Your colon is waiting.