What you eat not only affects how you feel today, but it may also influence your future health. Making healthy food choices makes it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight and prevent chronic health issues.
Your food choices particularly influence colon health. Diet plays a critical role in the management of many health conditions that affect the colon, including irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease.
Eating foods that promote colon health may also reduce your risk of colon cancer, which is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dedicated to promoting colon health, our experienced gastroenterologist, Dr. John M. Rivas, at Rivas Digestive Center wants to share with you some of the foods you should include in your diet to promote colon health.
1. Whole grains, dietary fiber
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plants that your body can’t digest. Adding more fiber-rich foods to your diet helps keep your bowels regular, improves heart health, and makes it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight.
When it comes to colon health, fiber in whole grains — like oats, barley, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread and pasta — may reduce your risk of colon cancer, according to a September 2020 cohort study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
2. Dried plums
Your colon is filled with trillions of bacteria, and the composition of this bacteria influences gut health. Researchers from Texas A&M University found that a diet containing dried plums (prunes) improves retention of good bacteria in your colon.
Maintaining a healthy balance of health-promoting bacteria not only promotes colon health, but may also reduce your risk of colon cancer.
3. Beans and legumes
Beans and legumes contain many nutrients that optimize health and wellness, including fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.
When it comes to colon health, the fiber, resistant starch, and phenolic compounds found in beans and legumes may promote growth of the health-promoting bacteria in your gut, says the American Institute of Cancer Research.
4. Dark leafy greens
It’s no secret that eating more kale, spinach, bok choy, mustard greens, and broccoli is good for your health. These dark leafy greens are low in calories and rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K, folate, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
They’re also filled with carotenoids, which are antioxidants that protect your cells from the early stages of cancer.
Because dark leafy greens are rich in folate, they may also prevent the development of colon polyps, which are benign growths that occur in the lining of the colon and are a risk factor for colon cancer.
5. Tree nuts
Tree nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, and pistachios are best known for their beneficial fat and protein content. But they also help keep your colon healthy and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
What’s more, tree nuts may reduce risk of colon cancer recurrence, according to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The best way to promote colon health is to eat a healthy and balanced diet filled with nutrient-rich whole foods. We also recommend you limit consumption of red meat and processed meat, which may increase your risk of colon cancer.
Regular colon cancer screenings also play a key role in keeping your colon healthy. To schedule your colon cancer screening, contact us by phone or online today.