7 Types of Foods That May Help You Prevent Colon Cancer
According to research conducted by the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States, both for men and women. Typical symptoms of this disease include rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, abdominal cramping or pain, changes of stool shape, changes in bowel habits, anemia and weight loss.
What is Colon Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is also known as colon cancer, bowel cancer or rectal cancer. Physicians commonly identify it depending on the where the tumor begins. Colorectal cancer starts when tumors or polyps develop in the lining of the colon or the end part of the large intestine which is called the rectum.
The tumors and polyps, when not removed earlier, can grow over time and become cancerous. They can also spread in the other layers of the large intestine, making the disease more dangerous.
Some risk factors for colon cancer include modifiable, hereditary and medical factors such as:
- Family or personal history of colorectal cancer
- High consumption of red and/or processed meat
- Long-term smoking
- Long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Low calcium intake
- Low intake of fruits and vegetables
- Low intake of whole-grain fiber
- Moderate to heavy alcohol consumption
- Physical inactivity
- Personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease
- Type 2 diabetes
Best Foods for Your Colon
Your colon needs the right amount of omega 3-fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium and flavonoids to prevent tumors from growing. Dietary fiber is also essential as it promotes regular bowel movement and helps limit bacteria build up. Below are some food groups that can help you prevent colon cancer inception.
Fresh fish high in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation in the body. In fact, a research team from Vanderbilt University found out that women who eat three servings of fish per week reduced their risk of developing colon polyps at around 33 percent.
Your best picks would be baked or smoked salmon, tuna and sardines as they are also rich in vitamin D and calcium.
Fruits are generally rich in antioxidants, fiber and species-specific phytochemicals that can help in protecting you from digestive problems.
Apples, blackberries, bananas, blueberries, oranges, pear and raspberries are some of the best sources of fiber.
- Non-starchy vegetables
For overall health, the rule of thumb is to fill two-thirds of your plate with plant-based food as they are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. However, to lower your risk of having type 2 diabetes, another factor that can lead to colon cancer, the American Diabetes Association suggests that you emphasize on non-starchy vegetables.
Try to eat at least 3-5 servings of non-starchy vegetables per day, including lettuce, kale, cucumbers, artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, okra and spinach.
- White Meat
Protein is crucial for muscle development, growth of tissues and more. And since you need to limit your red meat consumption, your healthier alternatives would be skinless chicken or turkey.. Eggs are a good option, too.
- Whole grains
Whole grains are another fiber-packed food group that you can perfectly match with fish, eggs and white meat. Your healthiest options would be brown rice, barley, oatmeal and quinoa.
Eating at least two, one-ounce servings of nuts a week can help keep your blood sugar and insulin levels low, reducing your risk of having type 2 diabetes. Since they are also packed with healthy fatty acids, fiber and flavonoids, nuts can also help decrease your chances of having colon cancer.
Your best picks would be tree nuts such as almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts.
- Beans and Legumes
Soybeans, lentils, peas, pinto beans, black beans and kidney beans are a great source of protein, fiber, vitamin B and vitamin E. Aside from the benefits and protection they provide to your colon, beans and legumes can also help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Having healthy food choices play a vital role in colon cancer prevention. While this guide gives you an insight on what types of food to limit and what to eat more, it’s still best to visit a physician for colorectal cancer screening as this disease rarely causes symptoms until it’s in a more serious stage.
All the best!
American Cancer Society Colorectal Cancer Alliance
Centers for Disease Control
Produce for Better Health Foundation
Prevent Cancer Foundation