Colon cancer poses as the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of death in the US. What’s interesting about colorectal cancers is that they affect both men and women in similar rates. According to the CDC, of 136,119 people in the US diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2013 (last year for which data is available) 71,099 were men while 65,020 cases account for women.
A healthy lifestyle is vital for colon cancer prevention which means you have to take care of your digestive tract properly. Regular and healthy digestion is essential for weight loss as well as your overall health and wellbeing, too. So, in this article, you’ll learn how to protect your digestive tract and fend off diseases including cancer.
Eat a High-Fiber Diet
Consumption of fiber is paramount for the healthy digestive tract. Why? It is because fiber keeps the digestive system running smoothly by helping bulk the stools and move waste through the intestines. As a result, you are less likely to get constipated. Eating a diet rich in fiber can prevent or treat various digestive conditions like hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, and irritable bowel syndrome. But, make sure you drink plenty of water when increasing fiber intake. A study published in the journal Cell found that high-fiber diet keeps gut microbes from eating the colon’s lining, thus protecting you against inflammation. When microbes inside your gut don’t get enough fiber, they start munching on the natural layer of mucus that lines the gut, eroding it to the point where dangerous invading bacteria can infect the colon wall. Fiber prevents that! Great sources of fiber are whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Many foods, primarily fruits, and vegetables contains antioxidants, compounds that help improve our overall health and wellbeing. Antioxidants destroy free radicals and prevent oxidative damage, they also fend off numerous diseases and infections thus keeping your gut, skin, and other organs and systems in your body healthy and functional. In one study, antioxidants like vitamins C and E reduced cell damage and blood-fluid levels of oxidized fats in patients who suffered from Crohn’s disease. Antioxidants are also praised for their anti-cancer properties.
Regular physical activity aids digestion and prevents constipation by stimulating the muscles of the bowel. Exercise also improves symptoms of digestive diseases like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease. Benefits of exercise for digestive health also extend to stress reduction, weight management, and improved immune system health.
A study published in the BMJ confirmed the beneficial impact of exercise on gut microbiota diversity. The research also found that this relationship is complex and influenced by dietary extremes. Considering that digestive health is usually associated with dietary patterns, this study confirms that other aspects of your lifestyle play a role. In fact, study shows, a combination of diet and physical activity has an influence on gut microbiota diversity. So, to improve the health of your digestive tract and prevent various diseases including cancer, make sure you exercise regularly.
Probiotics are helpful bacteria that are beneficial for your digestive system. The gut has both good and bad bacteria and it’s that balance that keeps you healthy and able to fend off various diseases. However, due to illness or after using antibiotics, you may start losing good bacteria. This is where probiotics step in, they replace lost good bacteria to re-establish balance in your gut. Additionally, probiotics enhance absorption of nutrients, help break down lactose, strengthen immunity, and relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Sources of probiotics include kefir, cultured vegetables, kombucha, yogurt, raw cheese, apple cider vinegar, pickles, tempeh, miso, and so on.
Too much anxiety or stress can cause the digestive system to go into overdrive and, thus, harm its functionality. A study whose findings were published in the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found that stress has the following influence on digestive health:
- Alterations in gastrointestinal motility
- Increase in visceral perception
- Changes in gastrointestinal secretion
- Increase in intestinal permeability
- Negative effects on regenerative capacity of gastrointestinal mucosa and mucosal blood flow
- Negative effects on gastrointestinal microbiota
Stress has a major influence on your physiological health, which is why you should never ignore it. Ideally, you should find your own way to managing stress. Although we can’t really avoid stress for the rest of our lives, there are many things you can do relieve it. Just find something that seems relaxing to you and do it frequently, particularly in stressful situations.
Digestive health is usually something we overlook, and it’s time to give it more attention. Poor health of digestive tract can create numerous problems that disrupt our quality of life. A healthy lifestyle is essential; eat a well-balanced diet rich in fiber, exercise regularly, manage stress, and be mindful about your lifestyle choices for good digestive health.