The colon is a crucial part of the digestive system, and many different conditions can cause it to work improperly. Some of these include inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease; diverticular disease; irritable bowel syndrome; and colorectal cancer.
Treatment for these conditions includes diet and lifestyle modifications, medications and/or surgery. Colorectal cancer is one of the most serious colon diseases. Risk factors for colon cancer include age (risk increases over age 50); race, family history; previous polyps; inflammatory bowel disease; smoking; physical inactivity; and heavy alcohol use.
According to latest research physical inactivity is also a proven risk factor. "Physical activity recommendation to decrease your risk for colon cancer is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week. Any activity is better than nothing. Start small, even five-minute sessions add up."
A weighty connection
According to the National Cancer Institute, the association between obesity and increased colon cancer risk may be due to multiple factors, including increased levels of insulin in the blood, a condition that may occur more often in obese individuals. Increases in insulin and associated conditions such as insulin resistance may promote the development of certain tumours, including those in the colon. An estimated 50% to 75% of colorectal cancer can be prevented through lifestyle changes like healthy eating, according to the Colon Cancer Foundation. Therefore, good nutrition is an important aspect of good colon health.
Diet dos and don'ts
Diets high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains and low in red and processed meats have been associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer. To help promote good colon health, follow these five diet recommendations:
1. Add plant-based foods into your diet.
First and foremost, eat a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils At least half of your plate should comprise plant foods, which provide many beneficial vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and are packed with fibre, our natural cancer-fighting compounds."
2. Limit red meat consumption.
According to evidence-based research the risk of colon cancer increases by 15% to 20% if you consume a diet rich in red meat The way you cook your red meat can also add to your risk. It is recommend limiting cooking red meats at very high temperatures that cause charring. This causes the meat to form chemicals called heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
3. Hold the sugar.
Foods high in sugar are often high in calories and can lead to weight gain and obesity. Look for sugar-free alternatives like sparkling water, unsweetened teas or coffees, or fun natural flavour combinations like blueberry and cucumber or lemon and ginger."
4. Up your fibre intake.
Eating a high-fibre diet is good for overall intestinal and colon health. Try to consume at least 30 grams of fibre from food sources each day incorporating a variety of whole grains, colourful fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans into your diet. Fibre aids colon health by helping to keep you regular and prevent constipation by moving foods through your gastrointestinal tract. This may then lower your risk of developing haemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon that can lead to diverticular disease.
5. Choose grains wisely.
Whole grains are grain products that have not been stripped of their nutrient and fibre-packed exterior. Researchers recommend that all adults eat at least half of their daily grains as whole grains, about three to five servings. Examples of whole grains are quinoa and wild and brown rice. These foods contain more colon-friendly vitamins, minerals, fibre, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and phytochemicals (natural compounds in plants that have a beneficial effect on the body) than their refined grain counterparts, such as white flour* and white rice.
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