Tips to keep your colon healthy

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Check out 8 daily actions you can take to prevent diseases that affect the colon, or large intestine

O colon it is a crucial part of the digestive system. It works 24 hours a day to remove toxic waste from the body, working in conjunction with organs such as the stomach and small intestine to remove stool and maintain fluid and electrolyte balance.

The organ is the last part of the digestive system, corresponding to the central part of the large intestine and extending between the cecum (blind) and the rectum. It is divided into four parts: transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon and ascending colon.

Just as diet can have a positive or negative impact on heart, brain, and bone health, the overall health of your colon can be affected by what you eat. When the organ does not function properly, a number of health conditions can develop such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitisirritable bowel syndrome and colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most serious colon diseases. Risk factors for the disease include age (risk increases after age 50); color (blacks have the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the US); family history; anterior polyps; inflammatory bowel disease; smoking; physical inactivity and alcoholism. There is also a strong correlation between obesity and a higher risk of developing the disease.

What is colon cancer

Colon cancer usually affects older adults, although it can occur at any age. It usually starts as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called polyps that form inside the colon. Over time, some of these polyps can become colon cancers.

Polyps can be small and produce few or no symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screening tests to help prevent colon cancer by identifying and removing polyps before they turn into cancer.

Colon cancer is sometimes called colorectal cancer, which is a term that combines colon cancer and rectal cancer, which starts in the rectum.

Symptoms

  • A persistent change in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in stool consistency
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool;
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramping, gas, or pain
  • Feeling that the bowel does not empty completely;
  • Weakness or fatigue;
  • Unexplained weight loss.

Many people with colon cancer have no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms appear, they likely vary, depending on the size and location of the cancer in the large intestine.

Preventing colon disease

Lifestyle changes are the most effective way to reduce the risk of colon cancer and other health complications associated with the organ. THE American Cancer Society reports that the links between diet, weight, exercise, and colorectal cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer.

In fact, about 50% to 75% of colorectal cancer cases could be prevented through lifestyle changes such as healthy eating. Whatever your age, there are some things you can do to keep your colon healthy and prevent the development of diseases such as cancer.

1. Add plant-based foods to your diet

Follow a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils is the first tip to lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer and other diseases. At least half of your plate should contain plant foods, which provide many beneficial vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

2. Limit your consumption of red meat

According to the CHAthe risk of colon cancer increases by 15% to 20% if you consume 100 grams of red meat (equivalent to a small hamburger) or 50 grams (equivalent to a hot dog) of processed meats such as sausage and bacon, daily.

3. Avoid sugar

Studies have found that people with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease often have high-sugar, low-fiber diets. While sugar has not been directly linked to colon cancer progression, foods high in sugar are often high in calories and can lead to weight gain and obesity.

4. Increase your fiber intake

Eating a high fiber diet is good for your overall gut and colon health. O American Institute of Cancer Research recommends getting at least 30 grams of fiber from dietary sources per day.

Fiber occurs naturally in plant foods such as whole grains, colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans. They support colon health by helping to keep it regular and prevent constipation by moving food through the gastrointestinal tract. This can lower the risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in the colon that can lead to diverticulitis.

5. Move

You know that exercise benefits your heart and can help you keep your weight off. But you may not know that physical activity can lower your risk of developing some types of cancer, including colon cancer. Try to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.

6. Avoid alcohol and stop smoking

If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. That means no more than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men. Cigarettes also increase the risk of developing colon problems.

7. Stay hydrated

When you are not properly hydrated, toxins can build up in your body. Drinking eight or more glasses of water a day can help remove toxins and waste through the colon more quickly.

8. Have a colonoscopy regularly

It is recommended that you start having colonoscopies at age 50. The polyps and abnormalities that lead to colon cancer can be removed to stop the disease from developing or spreading, making colon cancer a highly treatable disease if caught early. Individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps should start having colonoscopies at age 40.


Sources: Medical Xpress, Voyage Health Care, Mayo Clinic and Very Well Health


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