You might not give your colon much thought until it’s time to use the bathroom. However, keeping this organ healthy eliminates two debilitating causes of pain from your life. Who likes constipation or diarrhea?
Your diet has much to do with keeping your large intestine ship shape. Here are seven foods to eat for a healthier colon — and what to avoid.
Do you dig little more than a bologna sandwich for lunch? While you might fondly remember this treat from childhood, you should learn more about it as an adult. According to the World Health Organization, processed meat is a carcinogen and red meat ranks as a probable one — increasing your risk of colorectal cancer.
Recently, the American Cancer Society lowered the colorectal screening age from 50 to 45. Other guideline organizations have not yet followed suit, perhaps because screening isn’t without risks. Your best bet may be to reduce your consumption to eating red meat to no more than once or twice a week and processed meats like bacon even less often.
You can replace much of the meat in your diet with healthier, plant-based alternatives for a healthier colon. These substances are rich in fiber, which is your colon’s best friend. It acts to protect it in two ways, depending on the type.
Bacteria in your large intestine can ferment insoluble fiber, aiding the organ’s health. This type also helps to keep you regular and speeds up digestion, helping fend off constipation.
Soluble fiber is also fermentable by your gut bacteria and the types they crave are called prebiotics. Keeping these colonies fed and healthy is essential. They send signals up your vagus nerve, influencing everything from your mood to your body’s immune response.
What are seven of the best foods to eat for a healthier colon? Chow down on more of the following:
Carrots are just one vegetable high in fiber, but this root vegetable's bright hues could make it a boon for fighting colon cancer. Carrots contain several antioxidants to fight this disease.
Carrots contain carotenoids, polyacetylenes and phenolic acids, which have potential cancer-fighting properties. Although some studies suggest a negative effect between beta carotene supplementation and lung cancer, no such danger exists from eating the raw food — or enjoying some delicious cooked carrots with your next meal. They also come in various hues, helping increase your overall antioxidant intake.
If your child ever had a tummy ache, your pediatrician might have recommended the BRAT diet — bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. These bland foods also contain a significant amount of fiber to keep things moving through your digestive tract even when you aren’t eating much solid food.
Bananas are great for your diet if you get constipated. Studies suggest the pectin they contain can help ease constipation symptoms, making the go easier.
Cabbage is your colon's friend unless you’re on a low FODMAP diet for digestive issues. While this meal plan helps people with IBS, others benefit from the hefty dose of insoluble fiber cabbage contains.
Sauerkraut may be even better for your digestive health. This fermented food is a source of immune-boosting probiotics — the good bacteria you want in your intestines.
Remember — fiber is your colon’s best friend and whole grains are your best source of this substance. The trickiest part may be finding genuine whole grain products in your store.
Skip products that say “whole wheat” or “made from whole grains”. Such items may have trace amounts of grain but not enough to provide a health benefit. Instead, insist on those that list “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grain” as their first ingredient.
What if you’re one of the many people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity? Your best bet may be ancient grains like quinoa and amaranth.
The biggest concern is avoiding cross-contamination — especially if you have celiac disease. Look for products containing the gluten-free label to ensure you don’t accidentally sicken yourself with products made on the same equipment for making wheat-based foods.
Out in nature, seeds don’t sprout until the right conditions occur. However, they release enzymes once they do, making the rich nutrients contained inside the hull more bioavailable. The result is you get better nutrition.
On store shelves, you can find sprouted grain products next to their unsprouted counterparts. You might find the texture is a bit softer, which many people find desirable in bread.
Yogurt is a fantastic source of probiotics to replenish your colon’s healthy bacterial colonies. Best of all, you can find vegan products that do the same job as their dairy-based equivalents. Add a bit of fresh fruit and granola to your cup to increase your fiber intake.
You might not think about your colon health much. However, it can cause you considerable trouble if things go wrong.
Instead, eat more of the seven foods above for a healthier colon. An ounce of prevention is worth all the cures in the world!