Food for colon health

Can You Use Your Diet to Cleanse Your Colon?

Eating certain types of foods can help move waste through your colon and out of your body. If you’re in need of a colon cleanse, you might want to try incorporating the following five foods into your daily diet:

1. Broccoli

There are so many different ways to add broccoli to your diet. Try stir-frying it and tossing it with teriyaki chicken. You can also try this broccoli and cauliflower casserole.

2. Dark, leafy greens

Eating dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and chard is a great way to cleanse your colon. Add green to your dinner with these black bean and spinach enchiladas. This colorful Southwestern kale power salad makes a great lunch. You can add chard to your weeknight meals with this simple Swiss chard pasta.

3. Milk

You can use milk for more than just your morning cereal. This cheddar cheese soup will help you get your daily servings of both vegetables and dairy. You can also try homemade strawberry milk for a sweet treat.

4. Raspberries

Raspberries are always a delicious addition to dessert. But consider adding them to a salad, like this raspberry mozzarella salad. Or make them into a sauce and drizzle it over lamb chops.

5. Oatmeal

If you find packaged instant oatmeal boring, turn to some of the many creative oatmeal recipes out there! This recipe for Elvis oatmeal will satisfy your morning sweet tooth. Or switch things up with savory cheddar and fried-egg oatmeal. As you prepare your oatmeal, start with the whole-grain type, such as old-fashioned or steel-cut oats. They take longer to cook but provide more fiber.

All of these foods contain high amounts of fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are great at keeping your digestive system working properly and preventing constipation. But if you’re not used to a diet rich in fiber or calcium, introducing lots of these types of foods at once can lead to gastrointestinal distress in the form of diarrhea, bloating, or constipation. If you’re planning on a dietary colon cleanse, add more of these foods to your diet little by little over time instead of all at once.

Mayo Clinic Minute: Eating for a healthy colon

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of death in cancers that affect men and women. The colon is the final part of your digestive tract. Since it’s part of the digestive system, the food you eat is an important factor in the health of your colon.

Jason Howland has more in this Mayo Clinic Minute.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (0:59) is in the downloads. Read the script.

Want to keep your colon healthy? Use these two diet tips:

  1. Eat a nutrient-dense diet
  2. Include more fiber-rich foods

“Eating a nutrient-dense, high-fiber diet not only keeps the walls of your colon strong, but it can also prevent hemorrhoids or pouches in your colon,” says Kate Zeratsky, a Mayo Clinic registered dietitian nutritionist. “It also may prevent colon polyps and, potentially, cancer.”

A typical American diet is low in nutrient-density with larger portions of processed meats and refined grains, such as breads and cereals.

“Our Western diet tends to be lower in nutritional value,” says Zeratsky.

Fiber-rich foods, like fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds, are also more nutrient-dense. And the fiber keeps you regular and controls the amount of bacteria in your colon.

“The nutrients in those foods also may be beneficial in preventing digestive diseases as well as other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, and help you manage your weight,” says Zeratsky.

And when increasing fiber in your diet, do it gradually, and drink plenty of water.

A healthy colon starts with what you eat

In 1999, the Prevent Cancer Foundation® led the charge to designate March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The designation became official on November 19, 1999, with a declaration by the U.S. Senate, followed by a resolution of the House of Representatives and an official proclamation from the White House.

The major goals of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month are to educate the public about the screening options available to prevent or detect cancer early and share other ways you can reduce your colorectal cancer risk, like exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco products and eating a healthy diet. A diet packed with fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains is crucial for your colon’s health. While more research is being done to determine how certain foods may lower your risk for colorectal cancer, these tips can put you on the path to prevention.

  • Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Fresh fish (like tuna and salmon), nuts, flax seeds, spinach and vegetable oils contain healthy fats, which reduce inflammation and may lower your risk for cancer. A Vanderbilt University study found that women who ate three servings of fish per week had about a 33 percent reduction in risk for some colon polyps, which could eventually develop into cancer. They did not see the same effect in men, who often have diets high in omega-6 fatty acids—found in meats, grains and seed oils—that offset the benefits of the omega-3s.
  • Fill your plate with fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Focus your diet on these foods and limit your intake of red and processed meats (like bacon and hot dogs), which can increase your risk of colorectal cancer. Obesity is linked to an increase in risk for colorectal cancer, but a diet filled with fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat lots of fiber. A diet high in fiber may reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. You should get at least 30 grams of fiber every day from about five servings of fruits and vegetables and three small servings of whole grains. Barley, oatmeal, lentils, raspberries and broccoli are just some of the foods that contain healthy doses of fiber.
  • Get your recommended daily intake of calcium and vitamin D. Some studies show that calcium and vitamin D may lower your risk of colorectal cancer. Low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese, or vegetables like kale and broccoli, are great sources of calcium. Vitamin D is not found naturally in many foods, but fish, such as salmon and tuna, do provide some. Foods fortified with vitamin D include milk, certain breakfast cereals and orange juice.

Although following a healthy diet may reduce your risk, you should begin colorectal screening at age 50 (or earlier if you have a family history). Colorectal screening can detect pre-cancerous polyps or cancer in an early stage, when treatment is most successful. Talk to your health care professional about your options. As is the case with many other diseases, avoiding tobacco, exercising and limiting your alcohol intake can reduce your risk.

By Mayo Clinic staff

For years, turning 50 came with a special birthday message from your health care provider: Time to have a colonoscopy.

Now, that message will be coming a bit sooner. The American Cancer Society recently updated those screening guidelines, recommending most people get their first colonoscopy at age 45.

Colon cancer rates have been increasing in younger people. The change in the guideline is designed to help catch those cancers earlier, when they’re more likely to be curable.

Whatever your age, there are five other steps you can take to avoid developing colon cancer, the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.:

1. EAT YOUR VEGGIES AND HEALTHY FATS

“Research has shown that the Western diet correlates to higher colon cancer rates,” says Salwa Bakkali-Derksen, D.O., an internal medicine provider at Mayo Clinic Health System in Owatonna, Minnesota. “People who eat high-fiber diets are less likely to develop the disease.” She also recommends limiting the amount of meat you eat, especially processed meats.

Dr. Bakkali-Derksen emphasizes the importance of consuming healthy fats found in olive oil, salmon rich in Omega-3, avocados and nuts, as well as limiting low-processed fats found in fried food.

2. GET MOVING

You know exercise benefits your heart and can help you maintain your weight. It also may lower your risk of developing some types of cancer, including colon cancer. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week.

3. WATCH YOUR WEIGHT

According to the American Cancer Society, carrying extra pounds increases your risk of colon cancer, as well as cancers of the breast (in post-menopausal women), rectum, esophagus, pancreas and kidney, among others. Talk to your provider if you need help losing weight.

4. LIMIT ALCOHOL AND DON’T SMOKE

If you choose to drink alcohol, do so moderately. That means no more than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men. And if you smoke, quit. Your provider can offer tips or refer you to a program to help you stop.

5. FOLLOW SCREENING GUIDELINES

It’s so important that we’re going to end where we began. One of the most important cancer prevention strategies is to follow the colon cancer screening guidelines that are right for you based on your age, risk factors and family history.

A colonoscopy is more than a screening tool. It can actually prevent cancer by discovering precancerous changes, called polyps, and removing them before they develop into cancer.

Adjusting your diet and lifestyle to prioritize colon health can help with regularity, constipation, and fatigue. According to the American Cancer Society, one in 22 men and one in 24 women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime. Taking care of your colon is important in an attempt to prevent colon cancer.

Why it’s important

The health of your colon can affect the entirety of your digestive system. If your colon is working properly, you will be stronger and feel better to fight disease.

How to keep your colon healthy

1. Consume a high fiber diet

Consuming 25-35 grams of fiber per day is an important part of maintaining a healthy colon, as fiber increases feelings of fullness and promotes regular bowel movements. By keeping things moving through the colon, you’ll reduce the chances of developing colon-related disease.

Some great sources of fiber include nuts, seeds, berries, lentils, beans, broccoli, carrots, apples, pears, and peas. Aim to incorporate these foods into your daily diet.

2. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

Diets that incorporate ample fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have been linked to a decreased risk of colon cancer. This is in part due to the nutrients and antioxidants that are present in these foods, the high fiber content, as well as the correlation between diet and weight and colon-related illness.

3. Limit red meat and processed foods

Red meat and highly processed foods are full of saturated fat, which has been associated with an increased risk of colon cancer. Oftentimes, the preparation of red meat is done in a way that produces carcinogens.

4. Drink enough water

When you’re not properly hydrated, toxins can build up in your body. Drinking eight or more glasses of water a day can help move toxins and excrement through your colon more quickly.

Keeping track of how much water you’re drinking or setting water goals throughout the day can help you stay hydrated.

5. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can encourage more consistent bowel movements. The increase in blood flow and circulation makes your GI system more effective overall. Studies have shown that exercise, especially more rigorous forms, can greatly reduce the risk of developing some digestive disturbances.

6. Colonoscopies

It’s recommended that you start getting colonoscopies at 50 years old. The polyps and abnormalities that lead to colon cancer can be removed to stop the development or spread of the disease, making colon cancer a highly treatable disease if found early on.

For individuals whose immediate family member has been diagnosed with colon cancer or polyps, it is recommended that you start getting colonoscopies at age 40 or 10 years prior to the diagnosis of your family member.

Even though there are more options for screening for colon cancer, a colonoscopy is the gold standard because it not only detects colon cancer but also finds and removes polyps that are the precursors of colon cancer.

Is your colon healthy? Visit a provider at Voyage Healthcare

Whether it’s time for a colonoscopy or you’re looking for more information about how to keep your colon healthy, schedule an appointment at Voyage Healthcare to discuss your health! Our colon and rectal surgeons see patients at the Crystal, Maple Grove, and Plymouth offices.

7 Foods to Eat For a Healthy Colon

Healthy digestion is key to a healthy body, and the colon is essential to this process. The colon serves as the final stage in the digestive system as it rids the body of waste after absorbing the nutrients from the foods we eat.

There are many health conditions related to colon health, including colorectal cancer, colonic polyps, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, and celiac disease. However, it’s possible to better manage the associated symptoms and keep your colon healthy by incorporating the following foods into your diet.

Raspberries

Fiber plays an important role in colon health, and many fruits are rich in fiber. While you can get your fill with apples, blueberries, or oranges, raspberries are an especially great source of fiber, offering 8 grams per cup. You can enjoy them as a raw snack, or spread some raspberry jam on toast for a sweet breakfast treat.

Lentils and Beans

Also high in fiber, lentils and beans are easy choices to introduce. Looking for lunch or dinner options? Soups, stews, and chilis are a delicious and filling way to incorporate beans into your diet.

Yogurt

Dairy products contain high amounts of vitamin D, which has been linked to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer. Yogurt, in particular, contains active bacterial cultures, which help maintain the balance between good and bad bacteria to support overall gastrointestinal health. It’s also filled with calcium, which may play a role in lowering the risk of colon-related diseases. While yogurt’s tasty enough on its own or with some trail mix, you can also indulge in some yogurt-covered pretzels.

Brown Rice

You may have heard how brown rice is a more nutritious option than white rice, but did you know that it can also help protect your colon? Brown rice and other whole grains have been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. It’s a good source of fiber too, so boil some brown basmati rice for a delicious side dish as part of a healthy dinner.

Dark Vegetables

Like several fruits, many dark colored vegetables are rich in fiber content. Artichokes, in particular, offer 10 grams each. But if you’re looking for more variety in your vegetables, broccoli and carrots also feature plenty of dietary fiber. Pack some freeze-dried carrots for a simple healthy snack, or get creative in the kitchen and toss together this broccoli quinoa salad—an especially nutritious option that features pumpkin seeds, which also help reduce stress.

Salmon

A fan of seafood? Then you might have another reason to enjoy your favorite fish recipe. Some research suggests that the omega-3 fatty acids found in many types of fish can reduce inflammation and improve the function of colon cells.

Eating a varied diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and fish can go a long way in maintaining colon health. Additionally, you may want to avoid consuming too much red and processed meat, which studies have found can negatively impact the colon. Introduce regular exercise to your daily routine, and you’ll be well on your way to maintaining a healthy colon along with a fit body and sound mind.

Photos: Personal Creations, Zoe Magee, Jeffrey Deng, Jakub Kapusnak

Nutrition

A healthy colon begins with a healthy diet. One of the risk factors for colorectal cancer is a high-fat, low-fiber diet. Conversely, a low-fat, high-fiber diet will help prevent digestive disease. We all know how tempting it is to indulge in unhealthy foods like pizza, chips, ice cream and fried foods, but we also know the familiar regret when our body rejects that food. We feel tired, sluggish, moody and unsatisfied. Feeding our body with nutrient-rich food is like filling your car with the highest quality fuel. You can guarantee better performance.

Eating with colon health in mind is quite simple. The major building blocks for a colon-healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains that are rich in fiber. Another component for optimal digestion and health is adequate hydration.

There is no set diet for proper nutrition, so there is no need to go out and buy a book or follow a formula. It is as straight-forward as this: fill your diet with more healthy foods so that you will eventually eliminate the unhealthy food. Don’t think for a moment that healthy eating is boring. Instead of filling your pantry with boxes of processed food, you will be filling your refrigerator with colorful foods that are crunchy, juicy, nutty and full of new flavors and textures. Ready for an eating adventure? Let’s start with fruits and vegetables.

Eat a Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables

Few of us are opposed to fruits and vegetables, but we all have our favorites. Carrots, corn, green beans, apples, bananas and grapes are like old, familiar friends, so we tend to gravitate toward the same section of the produce section. Studies on colon health have found that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is best because each fruit and vegetable offers specific nutrients and antioxidants that the body needs.

When you are selecting fruits and vegetables, choose fruits and vegetables in a wide array of colors so you are “Eating a Rainbow.” Having each color represented in your diet will ensure that you are getting all your vitamins and minerals for colon health. Here are some suggestions for some new, colorful fruits and vegetables that can implement in your diet:

  • Red- Tomatoes, pomegranates, cranberries, radishes, red cabbage, red bell peppers, guava, watermelon and red leaf lettuce
  • Orange and Yellow- Apricots, nectarines, yellow peppers, cantaloupe, yellow tomatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkin, lemons, persimmons, mangoes, papaya and sweet potato
  • Green- Kiwi, broccoli, avocado, artichoke, okra, zucchini, asparagus, cucumber, celery, leeks, arugula, peas, chard, spinach, collard greens, kale, honeydew melon and Brussels sprouts
  • Blue and Purple- Eggplant, purple cabbage, blackberries, plums, figs, purple grapes, blueberries, and beets
  • White- Mushrooms, garlic, cauliflower, onions, potatoes, white peaches, parsnips and turnips

At least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day is a good place to start. Since fruits and vegetables are filling and low in calories, they can help you manage your weight so you are not hungry for those unhealthy foods that you used to eat!

Whole Grains

Whole grains are an essential part of colon health. Along with carbohydrates, whole grains contribute protein and fiber to the diet. You probably eat more whole grains than you realize. A bowl of morning oatmeal, a sandwich made on whole wheat bread, or some popcorn are all good sources of whole grains. Most of us are also eating foods made with refined grains and bleached flour which are nutrient-poor, so the challenge is to replace refined grains with whole grains.

Many foods claim to be made with whole grains but the grains have been refined which strips the grain of its nutrients. There are three parts of a grain kernel: bran, endosperm and germ. Refining removes the bran and germ, along with 17 other nutrients, and reduces the amount of protein by 25 percent. The key to eating whole grains is reading food labels, so take a moment to look at the type of flour, the amount of whole grain or the grams of fiber in each food that you purchase.

When you eat whole grains, you are getting valuable antioxidants which are not found in fruits and vegetables. You are also getting B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron and fiber. There is medical evidence that whole grains reduces your risk for cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. For maximum nutrition, choose whole grains that are unrefined and vary your selections so your body can receive maximum benefit. Try adding some of these whole grains in your diet:

  • Whole wheat flour
  • Whole grain bread (unrefined)
  • Whole oats (oatmeal)
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Corn meal
  • Popcorn
  • Wild rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Whole-grain barley

Fiber

Fiber acts as a cleaning agent for your colon and removes waste, debris and toxins left behind in the digestive process. The best kind of fiber to ingest is foods that are rich in fiber so look for breads and cereals that are made from whole grains and are also rich in fiber. Nuts and seeds also provide fiber and are a delicious way to add texture to foods like salads, soups and even desserts.

Women should ingest at least 25 grams of fiber per day, and men should have 30-35 grams of fiber per day. Most of us are deficient in fiber, so we should be actively looking for ways to increase our daily intake of fiber. There are many fiber supplements available at grocery and health food stores that could help boost daily fiber, but the best source of fiber is from food. When you derive your daily fiber from your diet, you will be forced to make more healthy choices when you shop!

There are two types of fiber, and a healthy colon requires both:

  • Soluble fiber- This fiber attracts water and creates a gel-like substance which slows down digestion. Soluble fiber makes you feel full and can help regulate blood sugar. Good sources of soluble fiber include oatmeal, oat bran, apples, oranges, beans, dried peas, nuts, strawberries, blueberries, celery and carrots.
  • Insoluble fiber- This fiber does not dissolve in water and passes through the digestive system relatively intact. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the intestines and helps prevent constipation. Good sources of insoluble fiber include whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, nuts, seeds, barley, couscous, zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, dark leafy greens, grapes, root vegetable skins, brown rice, tomatoes and green beans.

Water and Proper Hydration

As you add more fiber to your diet, you must also increase your fluid intake. Everyone should drink at least 64 ounces of water per day, but you may want to drink more water to keep stools soft. Keep record of your fluid intake and consider using a water bottle that has volume markings so you can easily track your water consumption throughout the day.

Probiotics

A way to enhance colon health and the digestive process is to talk to your doctor about adding probiotics to your diet. Probiotics are live colonies of beneficial bacteria that aid digestion and eliminate harmful bacteria and toxins in the gut. Kefir, kombucha, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut and some yogurts are good sources of probiotics. When choosing a probiotic, look for the term “billions of live cultures” instead of “millions of live cultures.” Although both terms seem to be the same, millions of cultures do not provide enough benefit to the digestive system.

The most common probiotics are part of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families because they are safe and generally have no side effects. If you have an immune disorder or are being treated for cancer, you should not take probiotics.

Vitamin D

New studies show that vitamin D is an important component in colon health. Having adequate vitamin D in the diet can reduce your risk of colon cancer by as much as 33 percent. Unfortunately, three-quarters of American teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D. Very few foods are rich in vitamin D, so we depend on fortified milk, cereals and juices. Eggs, liver, liver oil, salmon, herring, catfish and trout are good sources of vitamin D, as well as some good, old-fashioned sunshine. Our bodies can convert sunlight to vitamin D with as little as 10 minutes of unprotected exposure to the sun. Absorb rays responsibly, and add some more vitamin D to your diet to help prevent colon cancer.

As you expand your diet to include all the colon-friendly foods that will nourish your digestive system, your body will crave nutritious, healthy foods and not junk food. Eating healthy is satisfying and delicious. To learn more about recipes and menus that will help prevent colon cancer, visit the Butt Seriously Blog for delicious meal ideas and healthy eating tips.

What to Eat (& not Eat) for a Healthier Colon

Keri Tidwell

Do you know someone affected by colon cancer? Have you yourself been personally touched by it? Each year 150,000 people will be diagnosed with and 50,000 will die from this disease. Most of us know someone who has or has had colon cancer. While genetics may play a role, a healthy lifestyle “could prevent up to 70 to 90 percent of colorectal cancers” (Source: Everyday Health).

Unlike family history, diet is something we can all control. March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Let’s be more conscious of what we’re eating (and not eating) this month, and try to add (or eliminate) foods to improve our colon health. Below are some healthy eating tips. At the end of this post, you will find the link to a meal plan including 31 colon-healthy meals.

What to Eat

  • Fill 2/3 of the plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and nuts.
  • Eat more fiber. Aim for 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories in your diet. Good sources include whole grains (brown rice, oats, couscous, quinoa, whole wheat breads, and pastas); vegetables, especially broccoli, sweet potatoes, and carrots; fruits like avocado, apples, and pears; nuts; and beans (black, pintos).
  • Eat more garlic.
  • Eat omega-3 fatty acids found in wild salmon, milled flaxseed, walnuts, and plant-based oils like olive and sunflower oil.
  • Eat fresh roasted chicken breast, hummus, or peanut butter.
  • Eat at least 5 daily servings of vegetables–especially colorful ones like cabbage, kale, and broccoli plus cauliflower.
  • Try to eat yellow and orange vegetables like carrots, peppers, pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes every day.

What to Cut Out

  • Fill no more than 1/3 of your plate with poultry or lean red meat.
  • Cut back on red meats and processed foods like hot dogs, bacon, salami, and deli meats. The high saturated fat content has been linked to colon cancer.
  • Avoid charred or blackened meats.
  • No prepackaged foods like frozen TV dinners and boxed meals that are full of sodium, fat, preservatives, and additives.
  • Limit refined sugars found in cakes, cookies, pies, and sodas.

If you are in need of some meal ideas to improve colon health, check out the March Meal Plan where you will find 31 recipes featuring these colon-friendly foods.

March Meal Plan

For these and over 1,600 recipes, follow my Colon-Healthy Recipes board on Pinterest.

Do something good for yourself this month. Assess your diet, and see where you need to make some changes to transform your colon health.

7 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Colon

1. Fiber

Fiber-rich food is a great choice for a healthy colon. Eating a good amount (about 25-35 grams daily) of high-fiber foods like raspberries, bananas, prunes, peas, broccoli, beans, celery, and whole-wheat pasta is a great start to cleanse the body. Other fiber-rich whole grains include brown rice, whole wheat and whole-wheat breakfast cereals. Fiber keeps food waste moving along your digestive tract, which helps your intestines stay squeaky clean and can decrease your risk for diverticular disease. See Three Ways to Get More Whole Grain in Your Diet.

2. Vitamin D

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that a steady intake of Vitamin D is advantageous when trying to prevent colon cancer and maintain a healthy colon. You can get Vitamin D from a variety of sources including the sun (15-20 minutes of daily exposure is sufficient) and foods like bread, fatty fish, milk, and cereal. If your foods do not supply enough Vitamin D, taking a supplement may be warranted. Vitamin D may also help prevent osteoporosis.

3. Don’t hold it

If you feel a bowel movement coming, head for the bathroom and let it go. If you try to hold it in, built-up fecal matter can release toxins into your body, which has the potential to cause diverticulosis and IBS. Regular bowel movements is one of the ways your colon keeps itself clean and healthy.

4. Water

Inadequate hydration can lead to a buildup of toxins in the body. As those toxins accumulate, the risk for constipation, bloating, gas, IBS, and fatigue increases. If you’re trying to keep your colon healthy, try to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water in a day to cleanse your body.

5. Exercise

When you’re trying to keep your colon healthy, exercise is a huge part of the equation. By increasing blood flow and circulation through exercise, your colon (and entire gastrointestinal system) gets more oxygen. This may help ward off colon cancer and other diseases. Your fitness routine doesn’t need to be extreme. Stretching, doing yoga or walking for 10-15 minutes a day is sufficient to help keep your colon healthy.

Although a colonoscopy is by no means a fun experience, it’s essential in the prevention and early detection of colon cancer. For individuals over age 50, a colonoscopy is a necessary step in maintaining colon health. Also, ask your doctor about a colonoscopy if you are experiencing on-going diarrhea or constipation, as these can be signs of colon and intestinal problems. A colonoscopy can aid in proper diagnosis of your condition.

7. Cleansing Your colon

There are also natural ways to keep your colon clean. Pay a visit to your local alternative medicine center to learn about the colon-cleansing treatments they have to offer.

Colon flushes are a popular procedure, and are believed to wash out toxins and waste material that have become trapped in your colon. If you suffer from constipation, a colon flush can be the best way to regain regular bowel movements and restore your colon’s health. With a variety of special herb and mineral infusions available, colon flushes can be tailored to suit your unique needs. Although self-administered colon cleansing kits are available, you should seek advice from a health professional before attempting your first treatment.

9 Diet Tips for a Healthy Colon

A lot of new evidence links poor diet and lifestyle to colorectal cancer. Risk factors include a diet high in red or processed meat, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking and heavy alcohol intake.

The American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research agree on recommendations for a colon-heathy diet. A good rule of thumb is to fill two-thirds of your plate with plant-based foods, and the remaining one-third with meat or dairy, says Southcoast dietician Julie Guerreiro, RD, LDN, CSO.

Follow these tips for a colon-healthy diet:

  1. Avoid alcohol entirely or have just one drink a day, meaning 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
  2. Eat no more than 18 ounces of beef, pork and lamb a week.
  3. Limit processed meats, including lunch meats, bacon, sausages and hot dogs.
  4. Limit or, better yet, eliminate fried foods, which are high in calories and can lead to weight gain.
  5. Choose lean protein sources, such as skinless chicken or turkey and fish.
  6. Eat whole grains in breads and cereals, as well as brown rice.
  7. Favor whole fruits, fresh or frozen, over fruit juice.
  8. Emphasize non-starchy vegetables, such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, peppers, green beans and green leafy vegetables.
  9. Build meals around beans and legumes, such as black beans, lentils, kidney beans and garbanzo beans.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Healthy diet

Source: Web exclusive, March 2011

You probably don’t give your colon much thought until something goes awry, such as diarrhea, constipation or other troubles. But if you get to know your colon before it causes you grief, you’ll be taking steps towards better general health and increase your chances of catching signs of colon cancer. Early intervention is key to identifying and successfully treating this type of cancer, which is the second deadliest in Canada.

Here’s what you need to know about keeping your colon healthy:

What the colon does

The colon (also known as the large intestine) is the final stop in food’s journey through the digestive tract. The colon absorbs fluid from indigestible food residue and produces solid waste for elimination. ‘The colon is essentially a waste-storage organ that lets you control when the waste is released,’ says gastroenterologist Dr. Clarence KW Wong, associate professor of medicine at the University of Alberta.

But this organ does much more than just act as your body’s garbage shoot. ‘The colon is also important for fluid, electrolytes (salts) and fatty-acid absorption. These can be important for systemic health. As well, the colon holds a large number of commensal bacteria , which may hold many benefits for the body,’ he adds.

Signs of a healthy colon

If you’re not thinking much about your colon, chances are good that it’s healthy. Regular bowel movements and no pain, bloating, diarrhea or bleeding likely mean that all systems are go.

Signs of possible colon trouble

There are a number of symptoms that may indicate a colon-health issue, but they can also be associated with other problems. ‘Digestive symptoms may stem from a temporary illness such as flu, a reaction to certain medications or a more chronic underlying condition,’ Wong explains. So it’s important to recognize what’s out of the ordinary for you‘and to communicate any of the following to your doctor:

‘ Chest pain
‘ Heartburn
‘ Constipation
‘ Bloating and/or excessive gas
‘ Stomach pain and/or cramps
‘ Difficulty swallowing
‘ Nausea
‘ Rectal bleeding
‘ Diarrhea
‘ Mucus in stool
‘ Changes in bowel habits

Urgent signs of colon trouble

Although the symptoms above call for you to make an appointment with your doctor, the symptoms below indicate you need see a healthcare professional right away for prompt medical attention, Wong advises:

‘ Diarrhea that lasts more than five days”
‘ Unintended weight loss”
‘ Persistent vomiting”
‘ Black tarry stools”
‘ Bright red blood in your stool or bloody diarrhea”
‘ Unexplained fatigue”
‘ Pain in the stomach area that improves or worsens when you eat”
‘ Persistent fever”
‘ Pain when having a bowel movement”
‘ Abdominal pain that is persistent and severe or that wakes you from sleep ”
‘ Persistent heartburn that is not relieved with over-the-counter antacids

Who is at risk for colon cancer

Colon cancer kills nearly 9,000 of the approximately 22,000 Canadians diagnosed with it each year, making it the country’s second most fatal cancer. The good news is that colon cancer is more than 90 percent curable with endoscopic removal or surgery if caught early.

You’re at high risk and should be screened regularly if you are over age 50, you’ve previously had colon cancer and/or polyps, you have a history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and/or you have a first-degree relative (sibling, parent or child) who has had colon cancer. In this last case, start screening between ages 40 and 50, or when you are 10 years younger than the age at which your relative was diagnosed.

If you’re at high-risk of developing colon cancer, talk to your doctor about cancer screening. Screening is essential because colon cancer can sometimes be symptomless in its early stages. ‘Screening refers to looking for early signs of disease such as a precancerous lesion like a polyp, before symptoms appear,’ says Wong.

It’s amazing how the same healthy lifestyle habits most experts recommend for weight loss and general good health apply equally to the promotion of good colon health. Want to keep your digestive tract on track? Here are some of Wong’s top tips:

‘ Drink plenty of water and other caffeine-free fluids
‘ Drink caffeine and alcohol in moderation
‘ Don’t smoke
‘ Get regular exercise
‘ Eat a balanced diet that’s high in fibre . Women should aim to get 25 grams of fibre daily and men should get 32 grams.

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