Eating for a Healthy Colon

By: Joan Stewart, RT(T), BA HCA Clinical Services Project Coordinator, TCCC

A healthy diet can help prevent against colon disorders. Risk factors for colon cancer include obesity, physical inactivity, heavy alcohol consumption, and a high intake of red and processed meats. 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. In fact, an estimated 50 to 75 percent of colorectal cancer can be prevented through lifestyle changes according to the Colon Cancer Foundation. Colorectal cancer can be prevented, and here are the top six gut-healthy habits to get you started!

1. Limit red meat consumption to no more than two 4-oz portions each week, and limit processed meats to an occasional treat.

2. Decrease added sugars in your diet to less than 10% of total daily calories (around 25 g for women and 38 g for men per day) to help keep yourself at a healthy weight.

3. Increase your fiber intake to 25-35 g per day by increasing your intake of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Fiber aids colon health by preventing constipation. This can lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon that can lead to diverticular disease.

4. Drink your milk! Studies show calcium and vitamin D may decrease risk of colon cancer. Other dietary sources of calcium include spinach, kale, and collard greens. Try to get between 1000-1200 mg calcium per day. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, cheese, and egg yolks as well as from the sun. Many foods like orange juice, cereal, bread, and some yogurt brands are also fortified with vitamin D.

5. Make at least half of your daily grains whole grains. Some readily available whole grains include barley, quinoa, whole wheat flour, wild and brown rice and oatmeal. These foods contain more vitamins, minerals, fiber, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and phytochemicals than refined white grains.

6. Limit alcohol consumption. Minimize alcohol intake to one drink per day or less.

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