Foods for Colon Health

Jan 20, 2023


Many of us don’t spend much time thinking about our colon health. But it may be time to do so—colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in both men and women in the United States.

While there’s no magic bullet for cancer prevention, eating healthy foods can lower your risk of colon cancer. In fact, studies have shown that eating a healthy diet, minimizing your alcohol intake and exercising regularly can cut your chances of getting colorectal cancer by more than 33%. Consider adding these foods to your diet to lower your cancer risk and increase your overall health.

The best ingredient

When it comes to colon health, fiber is the star of the show. Eating plenty of fiber-rich foods keeps your colon cleaned out and helps prevent colorectal cancer.

How much fiber do you need? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises that you aim for 14 grams of fiber per every 1,000 calories. For most women, this averages out to about 25 grams of fiber daily. For men, it’s about 38 grams.

Eat your fruits and veggies

Fresh fruits and vegetables are some of the best foods you can eat for colon health. Eating these foods with their skin will give you the most bang for your buck in terms of fiber. For example, a large pear with the skin has about 7 grams of fiber and one cup of raspberries has about 8 grams.

In general, the more processed a fruit or vegetable is, the less fiber it has. A fresh apple with the skin has nearly 4.5 grams of fiber, while a serving of applesauce has only 1.4 grams.

Choose whole grains

While some popular diet plans tell you to cut carbohydrates completely, they are crucial sources of fiber. Whole grains, in particular, are great for your colon health. They help with maintaining regular bowel movements and increasing healthy gut bacteria.

Opt for whole-grain breads, pastas, brown rice, oatmeal or barley. Did you know popcorn is a whole grain? To get the most benefits, pop the kernels yourself and drizzle with olive oil. A homemade popcorn snack is much better on your body than prepackaged bags full of salt and butter.

Don’t skip dairy

Dairy products that are full of calcium can help lower your risk of developing growths in your colon. Cheese, yogurt and milk are particularly good sources of dairy.

If you follow a vegan diet, it may be tricky to meet your daily calcium needs. Leafy greens, soy milk or chia seeds are common calcium-rich alternatives. If needed, your healthcare provider may advise taking a calcium supplement.

Reach for legumes

Beans and lentils are often held up as excellent protein sources for vegetarians. But they are also packed with fiber and other nutrients. Try adding legumes to soups, grain bowls or salads for a delicious and healthy lunch.

What foods should I avoid?

When it comes to colon health, two of the worst ingredients for your gut are alcohol and processed sugars. Try to limit your consumption of both as much as you can.

Too much alcohol and added sugar irritates your gastrointestinal tract, as well as increases your risk of other health conditions and cancers. Get used to reading food labels and choose fresh foods as often as possible.

In addition to eating a healthy diet, regular colon cancer screenings are a crucial part of lowering your cancer risk. To schedule a screening, find an Adventist Health provider near you.