Colon health is very important but can be one area of overall health that many people overlook, but it is an integral part of the human digestive system. There are a variety of common conditions that can signify poor colon health that many individuals may not even be aware of. There are several things that we can all do to ensure that we have optimal colon health and avoid the various conditions that cause poor health in the lower digestive tract. Some of these conditions include things as simple as irregular bowel movements to more serious conditions like hemorrhoids to even deadly conditions like colon cancer.
One thing we can all do to maintain optimal colon health is to eat right. So much of our overall health has a great deal to do with our diet, and colon health falls into this category, as well. Everyone should be eating a healthy and well balanced diet starting in childhood in order to live a longer and healthier life. Here are some diet tips that can help to keep our colons on the track:
- Limit red meat consumption as well as processed meats – The American Cancer society has suggested that you increase your chances of cancer by 15 to 20 percent simply by ingesting 100 grams of red meat per day. The amount of processed meats indicated is even lower. Consuming merely 50 grams of processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, and sausage have the same increased risk for cancer. For those who love red meat, the ACS suggests to limit it to about a four ounce serving of red meat twice per week. When it comes to the processed meats listed above, the recommendation is to limit consumption to never or as rarely as possible. Processed meats contain preservatives and other ingredients that are thought to lead to an increased risk of cancer. Fewer than 10 percent of colon cancers are believed to be hereditary, making diet one of the most important aspects in preventing this type of cancer.
- Avoid sugar – Studies have suggested that individuals with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis very often have diets that are high in sugary foods. These same studies have shown a lack of the proper amount of fiber combined with too much sugar. This is a recipe for disaster when it comes to, not only, colon health but overall health as well.
- Increase your fiber consumption – As mentioned above, a lack of fiber in the diet can be detrimental to colon health as well as overall digestive health. Eating a diet high in fiber is also very good for intestinal health. Humans should be ingesting about 25 to 35 grams of fiber each day. However, the average American only gets about 13 grams of fiber in their diet daily. This is an alarming statistic, so every person should be making a conscious effort to include more fiber in their diets. The best way to include more fiber in your diet is to increase the amount of naturally fiber-rich foods you consume daily. These foods include fruits and vegetables such as pears, raspberries, bananas, apples, oranges, cooked broccoli, artichoke, peas, and corn. Whole grains and legumes are also excellent sources of fiber. Many individuals also choose to include fiber as a dietary supplement, but nothing is better than getting your fiber from the foods you eat.
- Drink more milk – Studies have shown that the high amounts of vitamin D found in milk can lead to a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. At the same time, too much calcium can increase the risk of prostate cancer, so there is a fine line of how much milk we should be consuming. The American Cancer Society recommends less than 2,000 milligrams of calcium per day, so take note of the levels of calcium and vitamin D in your milk and find the appropriate amount to drink daily. The recommended calcium intake for humans is between 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams per day. You can also get calcium from various foods like spinach, kale, collard greens, and other green leafy vegetables.
- Eat the right grains – Whole grains are recommended for optimal colon health, digestive health, and overall health. Many people consume far too much enriched flour in products like white breads. However, we should only be consuming whole grains and wheat. Some healthier grains include whole wheat flour, quinoa, barley, oatmeal, and brown rice.
It is also important for individuals to begin screenings of their colons when they reach about age 50. This is one of the greatest preventative measures when it comes to colonic and prostate cancers. However, these screenings can expose less severe conditions such as hemorrhoids. Sometimes, we may have hemorrhoids without even knowing it and a screening will uncover less common problems like this. Hemorrhoids are often thought to be caused by excessive straining of the muscles in the lower digestive tract. This can happen from highly physical jobs, childbirth, or even frequent diarrhea, constipation, or straining during bowel movements. However, some recent research has shown that consuming probiotics does not only help with overall digestive health and colon health but can also help in the prevention of hemorrhoids. This is likely due to the fact that probiotics help the overall digestive tract to run more smoothly. It has been recommended that individuals who have hemorrhoids take probiotics after speaking with a physician about this specific diet change. You can take probiotics in dietary supplement form, drink form, or in various foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, certain cheeses, and sour pickles. Always be sure to talk with your doctor about any health concerns you may have or any major dietary changes. May your colon stay healthy well into old age!