You have heard the phrase: "Do what your gut tells you to do."
And if you are paying attention to your colon, it's probably letting you know whether or not you are taking good care of it (and the rest of your digestive system).
Medical research points to several factors that contribute to colon cancer and other digestive diseases and disorders. Heredity plays a big role. However, your behavior at the dining table has a direct correlation to your gut's health.
A diet high in fat contributes to polyps, colon cancer and inflammatory disorders like ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) and diverticulitis.
Meanwhile, researchers have confirmed that high-fiber diets with whole grains and lots of fruits and vegetables can decrease your chances for digestive disease.
Why does excessive consumption of high-fat foods harm your colon?
When you eat, your body releases bile acids in your digestive tract. Bile's job is to break down the food. However, when you eat high fat foods, your body also produces secondary bile acids - mainly because fat is more difficult to absorb. Research indicates these secondary bile acids can attach to cells that line colons and promote tumor growth.
As always, you should talk to your doctor or a nutritionist before significantly changing your diet. Most likely, they will encourage you to include certain foods that promote a healthy digestive system, such as those containing:
Antioxidants prevent the production of "free radicals", other molecules that damage cells. They terminate that chain reaction. Foods loaded with Antioxidants include:
Fiber promotes the digestive process, enabling food to move easily and quickly through your system. Foods loaded with Fiber include:
Whole-grain cereals and breads
Apples (with the peel)
Researchers are still uncertain about the relationship between Folic Acid deficiency and colon cancer. But enough data exists that doctors say a healthy level of folic acid is good for the gut. Folic Acid, or Vitamin B, promotes blood flow in all areas of the body - including the digestive tract. Foods loaded with Folic Acid include:
Pinto and Lima Beans
This vitamin is important to your immune system - which is housed in your belly. Vitamin D helps modulate cell growth and reduces inflammation. The best way to get Vitamin D is to spend 20 minutes per day in the sun (preferably before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m.). Foods featuring Vitamin D include:
Shiitake and Button Mushrooms
Milk and Cheese (fortified)
The medical jury is still out on the benefit of over-the-counter Probiotic supplements. Doctors are certain that an unhealthy digestive system, especially after taking an antibiotic or other medicines, lacks a balance of good and bad bacteria. Yogurt, especially a high-quality Greek Yogurt, can create a good environment that helps the digestive system heal itself.
So, if you are older than 50, it's gut check time. You should have a colonoscopy to test for polyps or any other early signs of colon disease. Then, you should make certain your diet keeps your colon in good order.