The colon—it certainly is not many people’s favorite topic to discuss, but a healthy colon could make a big difference in how you feel.
The colon, also known as the large intestine, plays a vital role in the digestive process by absorbing water and electrolytes, forming and eliminating waste, and housing beneficial bacteria that support our immune system.
When it comes to maintaining a healthy colon, there are several tips that can help. These include:
- Increase daily fiber. It is recommended to have 25-35 grams of fiber per day to maintain a health colon. Great sources of fiber include whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
- Limit the number of processed foods and red meats as they are full of saturated fat which increases the risk of colon cancer. Depending on how red meat is prepared, it can also produce carcinogens.
- Stay well hydrated! Drinking plenty of water will prevent constipation and will also help remove toxins that could build up in your body. We should aim for eight or more glasses of water daily to stay well hydrated.
- Watch your weight, per the American Cancer Society, as obesity can increase your risk of colon cancer and other gastrointestinal related cancers including esophageal and pancreatic cancers.
- Avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake. Drinking in moderation can help reduce the chance of colon cancer, this includes limiting oneself to one drink a day for women and two drinks per day for men.
- Regular exercise, including a brisk 30-minute walk daily, can help prevent constipation and promote good bowel health. By exercising, you will increase blood flow to your gastrointestinal system; and the more intense the workout, the better chance to reduce bowel complications.
- Get screened regularly with colonoscopies and ask your provider if a home test kit is appropriate for you.
Reach out to your primary care provider with questions, or, if you need one visit our find a provider portal here: Find a Physician or Specialist (northernlighthealth.org)