Q: We know that following a balanced diet – think fruits, veggies, and whole grains is important for overall health. In what way is diet even more important to colon health?
A: Diets high in fiber rich foods provide not only nutrition for our bodies but also substrate, or the underlying substance in the colon that encourages the “good bacteria” in our gut to increase rapidly and multiply. This good bacteria helps your body digest food and has been connected with supporting your immune system and controlling inflammation.
Q: Why does eating a high fat or low fiber diet contribute to colon issues? What can result when there’s not enough fiber in your diet?
A: Fiber is not only helpful for promoting a healthy gut microbiome, at a basic level it promotes colon health by (along with water) bulking and softening stool, making transit through the colon easier. This decreases the risk of diverticular disease and hemorrhoids. At the same time, decreased transit time limits the time any toxins are in contact with the cells of the colon wall.
Q: What are the benefits of a plant-based diet? How does eating more plant-based foods keep your colon working properly?
A: All fiber comes from plants. The fiber is helpful in and of itself but the foods that are particularly high in fiber are also high in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and trace elements that we need for overall health.
Q: What are the worst types of foods to eat for colon health?
A: The World Health Organization classifies processed meats as a class 1 carcinogen. This means the cause-and-effect relationship between eating processed meats and colon cancer is just as well established as the connection between, for example, smoking and lung cancer. This doesn’t mean the increased risk from eating processed meats is as high as the risk of smoking, but it does mean that it definitely causes an increased risk of getting colon cancer.
Q: What kind of diet do you recommend for people who are concerned about colon health or have a family history of colon issues or colorectal cancer?
A: A diet high in fiber-containing foods is clearly the healthiest diet for the colon. Even with a healthy diet, those with a family history of colon cancer and certain other colon disorders will need earlier and more frequent colonoscopies to ensure problems are prevented or caught very early.
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