- By Jason Howland
Mayo Clinic Minute: How diet plays a role in colon health
Colorectal cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the third most common in men worldwide. The colon is the final part of your digestive tract. Since it's part of the digestive system, the food you eat plays an important role in the health of your colon.
A recent study suggests that dietary patterns and colorectal cancer are linked. The data shows that high intakes of red meat, processed meat, alcohol and other foods can increase your risk.
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Want to keep your colon healthy? Use these two diet tips:
- Eat a nutrient-dense diet
- Include more fiber-rich foods
"Eating a nutrient-dense, high-fiber diet not only keeps the walls of your colon strong, but it can also prevent hemorrhoids or pouches in your colon," says Kate Zeratsky, a Mayo Clinic registered dietitian nutritionist. "It also may prevent colon polyps and, potentially, cancer."
A typical American diet is low in nutrient-density with larger portions of processed meats and refined grains, such as breads and cereals.
"Our Western diet tends to be lower in nutritional value," says Zeratsky.
Fiber-rich foods, like fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds, are also more nutrient-dense. And the fiber keeps you regular and controls the amount of bacteria in your colon.
"The nutrients in those foods also may be beneficial in preventing digestive diseases as well as other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, and help you manage your weight," says Zeratsky.
And when increasing fiber in your diet, do it gradually, and drink plenty of water.
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