Colon cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancers. Making some simple dietary and lifestyle changes can cut your risk in half. Here’s how:
1. Eat more vegetables. We know we should eat more veggies. Research shows that eating more vegetables can cut a person’s risk of colon cancer in half. Eat a daily salad, a homemade vegetable soup, or add steamed or sauteed veggies to your main dish. Better yet, make vegetables the main course and meat the side dish.
2. Avoid foods high in saturated fats and nitrates. That includes processed luncheon meats, bacon, cold cuts, hot dogs, and sausage. The saturated fat is linked to inflammation while the nitrates they contain are known carcinogens.
3. Choose chicken (or turkey or Brazil nuts). According to a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, eating lean chicken several times a week decreases a person’s chances of developing precancerous polyps in the colon by 21% and the risk of malignant tumors by 39%. Researchers believe the mineral selenium may be to thank. Looking for vegetarian sources of selenium, choose Brazil nuts, which are one of the best sources of this mineral. Brown rice and walnuts are also good sources of selenium.
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4. Eat more magnesium. Research shows that magnesium can cut the risk of colon cancer by 41% yet experts estimate that 80% of North Americans are deficient in this critical mineral. Some excellent sources include: raw almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, figs, alfalfa sprouts, and dark leafy greens.
5. Eat more fiber. Beans and whole grains are among the best sources of fiber. Fiber helps keep your bowels moving and that means toxins too. Fiber helps bind toxic matter in the colon and escorts it out of your body. Add a handful of beans to soup, stew, salad, or add tomato sauce to beans and enjoy. Strive for at least one-half cup of beans daily.
6. Spice up your life with curries. One of the key ingredients in many curries—turmeric—contains a compound called curcumin which has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer by 25%. What’s more: scientists at the University of Chicago found that curcumin destroys H. pylori, a harmful bacteria that is linked to ulcers and colon cancer. Sprinkle turmeric on your veggies or meat dishes, or add to soups and stews. There are also many delicious curry recipes you can try. Be sure they contain turmeric.
Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD