If you’re of a certain age, your doctor has probably already suggested you schedule your first colon screening. Or maybe you’ve even gone through it a couple times already.
But for far too many people, screening is literally the only time they think about their colon health. And that’s a problem.
Because while some colon related issues are painfully obvious—such as bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation—others can remain stubbornly hidden.
In fact, many folks never have any significant symptoms in the early stages of colon cancer. Which means sometimes a diagnosis can come far too late.
The time to think about your colon health is NOW.
Four foods to eat MORE of for a healthy colon
The single biggest factor in maintaining a healthy colon is diet.
So let’s get started with four foods you should be eating more of to protect your colon, and keep it in tip top shape.
Black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, take your pick. Any of the legumes will do the trick.
Legumes are brimming with lean protein and soluble fiber. The perfect pair for a steady, healthy digestive flow and easy bowel movements.
Experts say soluble fiber, which slows digestion by attracting water and turning into a gel, is essential for a healthy colon.
2. Colorful fruits and vegetables:
Fiber and antioxidants are both key to a healthy colon. And by far the best way to get plenty of both is to load up on a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.
With so many to choose from, you’ll never get bored. Which is a good thing, because according to the journal Current Colorectal Cancer Report diets high in a wide range of colorful plants can slash your colon cancer risk by an impressive 25 percent.
Do you need some inspiration? Check out our report, Surprisingly fun ways to sneak more vegetables into your diet.
Yes, we did just say you should be eating the rainbow when it comes to your vegetable choices. And you should. But carrots deserve a special mention.
Carrots are rich in beta carotene, which is associated with lower rates of cancer, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Plus researchers say the vitamin B6 found in carrots is a powerful cancer fighter.
A large, long-term study of nearly 38,000 women published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, revealed a significant link between diets richer in vitamin B6 and a lower risk of colorectal cancer.
If you prefer to leave the carrots eating to Bugs, no problem. You can get both vitamins in sweet potatoes and pumpkin, too.
Could avoiding colon cancer could be as simple as serving fish for dinner?
Possibly, according to researchers. Because study after study has found that omega-3 fatty acids, like you’ll find in wild-caught fatty fish, are associated with a lower risk of the disease.
A meta-analysis of over 40 studies revealed a significant link between eating fish and a lower risk of colorectal cancer. And a study published in The Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology concluded that the omega-3s found specifically in fatty fish, like salmon, could decrease colon risk by 12 percent.
Experts say omega-3 fatty acids can suppress the growth of cancerous tumors. And a regular dose of omega-3s (0.3 grams daily) before a colon cancer diagnosis may make you 41 percent less likely to die from the disease than folks who get very little of the fatty acid.
Work with your doctor to raise your fish-based omega-3s to 0.15 grams daily after a colon cancer diagnosis, and you could slash your risk for dying by an astounding 70 percent.
Limit these three foods for a healthy colon
Just as eating more colon-friendly foods can lead to a healthier colon, limiting other foods can help protect your colon, too.
Following are three foods that you should cut back on for a happy healthy colon.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to tell you that you have to choose between your favorite Shiraz and having a healthy colon. You can have both. But the key is moderation. In fact, a moderate amount of alcohol could have health benefits.
But drinking too much alcohol can irritate your entire digestive tract, including the colon. And in excess, it can damage the cells of your colon and liver.
For both women and men a glass of wine three or four times a week is typically fine, and can reduce your diabetes and heart disease risks.
2. Red meat:
The truth is red meat is a great source of protein and iron. And as a good source of cancer-fighting conjugated linoleic acid, it could even offer a bit of protection against cancer.
But most Americans are making two mistakes when it comes to red meat. Their serving sizes are far too large. And they’re eating the wrong kind of red meat.
A serving of red meat should only be around two to three ounces of lean cooked protein. That’s about the size of a deck of cards or bar of soap. If you’re eating larger portions, and not filling up on other quality colon-friendly foods such as beans, fruits and veggies, you’re putting yourself at a higher risk for colon cancer.
Once again, moderation is the key to a healthy colon.
But it’s not just how much read meat you’re eating, it’s also the kind of red meat. You should be choosing top-quality, organic, grass-fed meats. And avoid charring your cuts of meat when you cook them, which raises the level of cancerous compounds called heterocyclic amines, or HCAs for short.
Are you planning to toss your red meat on the grill? To slash cancer-linked HCAs even further, try this.
3. Processed meats:
One of the best things you can do for your colon health is to make a clean break from processed meats. Because the truth is with all the preserving, smoking, junk salting and chemical processing sausages, hot dogs, hams and lunch meats go through they’re hardly even meat anymore.
But if you can’t give them up entirely make them an occasional treat. Choose organic, processed meats that have a minimal amount of preservatives. And, if possible, ones made with grass-fed meats.
There’s no time like right NOW to start taking better care of your colon health. It could literally save your life.