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Prevent Colorectal Cancer With Food

Proper diet and nutrition are key factors in helping to prevent several diseases, and colorectal cancer is one of them. In order to fight this disease, nutritional guidelines advise eating less saturated fat and getting more nutrients from the food you eat rather than relying on supplements.

1.Dietary Fat
Red and processed meats are high in dietary fat which might contribute to the colorectal cancer-causing process. Consuming high amounts of fat increases the quantity of substances called bile acids (helps break down fats). When these substances get into the colon with large amounts, they can be converted to secondary bile acids, which could encourage tumor growth, especially the cells lining the colon.

You should limit your intake of processed and red meats to less than 500g/week:
•Try to minimize your intake of processed meats such as sausage, bacon, hot dogs and lunch meats.
•Go for poultry, fish, or beans instead of red meat.
•Choose lean cuts and eat smaller portions when having red meat.
•Prepare poultry, meat, and fish by broiling, baking, or poaching rather than charbroiling or frying.

2.Folic Acid
Studies have shown that folic acid might play a role in the fight against cancer. We already know that folic acid is essential in forming new cells and tissues and keeping red blood cells healthy. Folic acid can be found in citrus fruits and dark green leafy vegetables, particularly spinach.
Studies do not show any anti-cancer benefit from taking folic acid supplements.

3.Calcium and Vitamin D
Studies have shown that these two substances not only strengthen bones, but may also fight against colon cancer. Calcium sources include: milk, yogurt, cheese, salmon, sardines, and dark-green leafy vegetables, such as kale and collard greens. Foods that include vitamin D are salmon, sardines, egg yolks, fortified cow’s milk, chicken livers and don’t forget the sun; 20 minutes of sun exposure before 10 a.m. and after 3 p.m. is a perfect source of vitamin D.

Fiber is powerful weapon against cancer, has protective effects against colorectal cancer and improves overall health. Fiber rich sources are: whole-grain breads and cereals, berries, prunes, kidney beans and other legumes, brown rice, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Whenever you increase your fiber intake, do it slowly to prevent gas and cramping.

Phytochemicals are found to be helpful in the fight against colorectal cancer, phytochemicals are found in a variety of plant foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, carrots, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, and soy beans.

6.Increased physical activity
Increased levels of activity lower the risk of colorectal cancer. Doing moderate activities on a regular basis can lower the risk, but vigorous activity might have an even better benefit.

Recommendations for physical activity are:
-Adults: Should get at least 150 min of moderate intensity or 75 min of high intensity activity per week (or a combination of these), better to be spread throughout the week.
-Children and Teenagers: Should get at least 60 min of moderate or high intensity activity every day.

Avoid sedentary behavior such as lying down, sitting, watching TV, and other screen-based entertainment.
Doing some physical activity beside usual activities, no matter what one’s level of activity, can cause many health benefits.

Healthy Eating Guidelines to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer:
•Increase the amount and the intensity of physical activity.
•Consume less red and processed meats.
•Eat more fruit and vegetables.
•Get the recommended levels of vitamin D and calcium.
•Avoid weight gain and obesity around the midsection.
•Avoid having excess alcohol.

It is also very important to have regular colorectal screening because the discovery and the removal of polyps in the colon can help prevent colorectal cancer.

Christelle Bedrossian
Beirut, Lebanon


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Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian