March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer is the 3rd most common cancer, and the 2nd leading cause of death from cancer, in men and women in the United States.
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. To learn how to keep your colon healthy either view this Mayo Clinic Minute or read the script below.
Lastly, remember the importance of screening. Colorectal screening tests help identify abnormal growths. When detected early, colorectal cancer can be treated more effectively. If you are at least 50 years of age, or have a family history of cancer, please discuss screening guidelines with your medical provider.
Mayo Clinic Minute: Eating for a healthy colon
Want to keep your colon healthy? Use these two diet tips:
- Eat a nutrient-dense diet
- 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.
Connect with others in the Colorectal Cancer group
on Mayo Clinic Connect where members discuss