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The food choices we make every day have an important impact on our risk of colon cancer, says Mary-Eve Brown, a dietitian at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.
Choosing a healthy lifestyle that includes eating the right foods and getting plenty of exercise go a long way in keeping your colon healthy,” says Brown.
Preventing Colon Cancer
The American Cancer Society, American Institute of Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund offer the following tips for good colon health:
- Watch your weight. Be as lean as possible within the normal range for your body weight.
- Exercise. The organizations recommend getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
- Limit your intake of fast foods.
- Watch what you drink. Avoid sugar-filled beverages.
- Aim to eat 21 oz. of non-starchy vegetables and fruits a day.
- Eat unprocessed grains. Limit refined starches.
- Try to avoid processed meats – they are a high-risk food. Also, limit your consumption of red meat to just 11 ounces a week.
- Don’t smoke. Limit alcoholic drinks to one per day for women and two per day for men.
- Don’t add salt to your foods.
- At the grocery store, head for the produce and seafood sections. Both offer foods containing the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed to lower your risk of colon cancer.
If you’re a colon cancer patient, there are ways to manage the side effects of your treatments through diet, too:
- If you’ve had surgery, stay away from high fiber foods like popcorn, nuts or raw fruits and vegetables.
- If you are experiencing nausea, try eating and drinking slowly. Have your meals at room temperature. Do not lie down for two hours after a meal.
- Cold foods that do not have much of a smell, like cottage cheese, canned fruit and yogurt, may be easier to tolerate. Avoid fried, greasy and spicy foods. Take anti-nausea medications as prescribed.
- Drink a lot to make up for the fluid and electrolyte loss that comes with chemotherapy and radiation. All drinks can help as long as they don’t contain alcohol or caffeine.
- Try to maintain your weight. Each day, eat several small meals packed with protein and calories. Add additional calories with nutritional drinks and snacks between meals. Healthy, high calorie snack ideas include peanut butter and crackers, dried fruit, nuts, guacamole, hummus, pudding and cheeses.