A healthy colon is vital for the rest of your body. Often overlooked, the colon — or large intestine — has a significant role in taking care of you. Happy colons help remove toxins, ensuring you stay regular and active. However, colon cancer is one of the most common cancer diagnoses and deaths in the United States.
To help assure you don’t face this or other potential problems, know how to keep your large intestine in excellent shape. Here are six lifestyle tips for a healthy colon.
1. Drink Enough Water
Water is very beneficial for your digestive system. It can help your large intestine break down food during or after eating, allowing your body to absorb all the nutrients you’ve consumed. It can also make your waste products softer, promoting regular bowel movements. Your colon and overall health can improve by releasing these toxins more regularly.
Talk to your doctor about how much water you should be drinking. They will be able to provide an answer based on your specific needs. Staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways to keep your large intestine efficient.
2. Exercise More Often
Regular physical activity may help improve your digestive system if you can do so. Research shows exercise can help reduce the symptoms or risks of gastrointestinal diseases such as:
- Acid or gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Colon cancer
However, exercise can also cause temporary effects like heartburn or nausea. It all depends on what works best for you. A physician or physical therapist may be able to help you find the perfect workout for your colon. Even something like taking regular long walks can help your large intestine run smoothly.
3. Schedule Regular Screenings
Many experts recommend beginning colonoscopies starting around age 50. You may receive screenings earlier than most if your family runs a higher risk of colorectal cancer. This is not something you should put off or skip. Catching it early can help you receive treatment before the condition becomes critical. Taking preventive measures is always a great plan. Make regular colonoscopy appointments once you turn 50 or know you’re at a higher risk.
4. Eat More Fiber
A fiber-rich diet keeps your large intestine healthy and can improve your heart. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends ingesting 28 to 34 grams of fiber daily for an optimal colon. However, only 5% of Americans reach this amount, and most consume only 17 grams. Follow these food tips to increase your fiber intake:
- Eat plenty of legumes, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and seeds
- Use brown rice instead of white
- Keep vegetable and fruit skins on when eating
- Try to eat two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables each day
Eating more fiber will keep your colon’s processing more efficient. Removing the waste quickly can help your digestive system stay at its best.
5. Choose Red Meat Alternatives
Researchers have found compelling links between a heavy red or processed meat diet and colon cancer. The cause is still unclear, but there are a few theories they’ve put forward. Some think additives put in while processing might damage your DNA. Others are studying if grilling creates chemical compounds that mutate cells.
However it happens, many health care professionals recommend balancing out red meat consumption with other foods. You might choose to have more chicken or fish instead of frequent steak dinners. Swapping a beef burger for a turkey one now and then could also be beneficial. Making some changes in your diet can help out your large intestine.
6. Adjust Substance Intake
Addiction specialists have associated drugs like tobacco and alcohol with colon cancer. Other substances such as hallucinogens, cocaine and opioids, can damage your gastrointestinal tract. Keep your digestive system healthy by limiting your use of these drugs. Reach out for help if you are struggling with an addiction to any of these. There are people out there who want you to be your healthiest self.
Help Your Colon Stay Healthy
A thriving colon is key to your whole body’s health. Once you start taking care of your digestive system, you will notice improvements in how you feel. Follow these lifestyle tips to keep your large intestine happy and working well.