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March 28

5 Foods to Improve Colon Health

Colorectal cancer is the second highest cause of cancer death in Pennsylvania. Colon screenings are recommended beginning at age 45.

There are several risk factors for colorectal cancer, but most of them are unhealthy lifestyle factors. Diets low in fiber, high in fat with limited fruits and vegetables, plus being overweight increases the risk of colon cancer.

So, if you can get those factors under control, you are minimizing your risk greatly. It is best to eat healthy and get regular screenings with your medical provider.

There are many healthy foods that can improve colon health, yet not all of them are easy to get or easy to make the whole family eat. Below are five foods that are very good for colon health. They are also tasty, cheap and easy to find, making them ideal foods to include into your weekly meals.

Photo collage of healthy food

  1. Apples
    Remember the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Well, it looks like there is some truth to that when it comes to gut health. Apples are high in insoluble fiber in the peel and insoluble fiber in the flesh. They are also high in pectin, so in addition to the fiber, both improve bowel function and motility. They are also low in sugar and high in water and minerals which means they metabolize more slowly than sugary snacks. Apples fill you up and help lower cravings for less healthy foods. In addition, they are full of antioxidants which means they help prevent free radical damage associated with cancer. Be sure to eat them with the peel on to gain the full fiber benefits.
  2. Oatmeal
    This is another simple healthy food that promotes colon health. Oats are high in soluble fiber which means it dissolves in liquid and creates a gel-like texture which feeds the good bacteria in your gut. It also slows digestion and helps you feel full. Choose rolled oats or steel cut oats with no added sugar instead of quick cooking or instant oats since they are less refined and have more fiber and minerals. You can always sweeten your oatmeal with fruit or a little honey.
  3. Low-fat Yogurt
    One of the main benefits of eating low-fat yogurt is that it contains billions of good bacteria to keep your colon healthy. In addition to the probiotics, low fat, protein rich foods make you feel full and give you sustained energy. When choosing yogurt, look for a low or no sugar version. Greek yogurt is even thicker than regular yogurt because it’s been strained. It can be used like sour cream in many dishes.
  4. Pinto Beans
    Soaked and well-cooked beans are full of fiber and minerals. They are also high in folate– which is an important B vitamin– and potassium, which can help control blood pressure. Being high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, pinto beans are filling and satisfying which means you are also less likely to snack on unhealthy junk food.
  5. Bananas
    This popular fruit is high in inulin which is a particular kind of fiber – prebiotic fiber – that is good for the gut. It consists of sugars which enhance the good bacteria in your gut and minimize certain disease-causing bacteria. Bananas also include soluble fiber and are very filling, making them an ideal healthy snack. If you have gut issues (gas, bloating, or difficulty digesting starches), it’s better to opt for ripe bananas instead of starchier, less ripe bananas.

You can lower your risk for colorectal cancer by making some simple lifestyle changes. Most people only get 15 grams of fiber a day and it’s recommended to get 30 grams per day. Swapping out high fat, low-fiber foods with some of these top five foods for colon health is a great start. Make a goal to start integrating one or two of them each week and see if you can get your fiber intake up to 30 grams daily.

*Note: A healthy diet is important, but it doesn’t replace regular doctor visits. If you are over 45, live in the Chester County PA area, and want a healthy colon, make an appointment today and come in to LCH for a screening.

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