If you’re like most of us, your colon health isn’t exactly top of mind. Colon cancer, however, is one of the most common cancers in men and women.
Dr. Steven Ellison, a gastroenterologist with the Augusta University Digestive Health Center, offers these 10 easy habits to keep your colon healthy:
- Boost calcium. Get it from almonds, low-fat milk, dark-green veggies, cottage cheese and yogurt. Men should limit calcium to 1,500 mg a day, as too much may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
- Seek a bit of sun. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. It comes mainly from sunlight (10 minutes a day is all you need) but can also be found in salmon, mackerel, fortified milk and eggs.
- Eat more fruits and veggies. They’re good sources of fiber, which adds bulk to the waste that moves through your intestines.
- “B” smart. Folic acid, an essential B vitamin, may reduce your risk. Lentils, collard greens, chickpeas, asparagus, broccoli, peas, papaya and oranges are good sources.
- Butt out. Smoking can cause colorectal cancer, so if you smoke, quit.
- Get slim. If you’re overweight, ask your health care provider about a weight-loss plan that will work for you.
- Cut back on beef. Eating too much red or processed meat has been linked to an increased risk, so choose chicken instead.
- Ease up on alcohol. Drinking too much can cause colon problems, so if you drink, do so in moderation.
- Stay active. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week to help reduce your risk.
- Get screened. The American Cancer Society also recommends that all men and women get screened for colon cancer starting at age 50.
“A screening colonoscopy is essential to colon cancer prevention. Early detection and removal of precancerous polyps can save your life,” Dr. Ellison says. “Our skilled staff does everything possible to provide an easy and comfortable patient experience.”