Fast Facts

  • In order to reduce your risk of getting colon cancer you should start getting screened beginning at age 45, eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight and get exercise. You should avoid alcohol, tobacco and processed foods.
  • The microbiome is made up of all the bacteria, fungi and viruses in your gut. When healthy bacteria outnumber toxic bacteria, they can reduce your risk of many diseases including colon cancer.
  • The steps to a healthy microbiome are the same ones that reduce your risk of colon cancer: eat a healthy diet, avoid unhealthy foods and habits and get some exercise. You’ll feel better and your body will thank you!

In the last article we discussed how people are getting colon cancer at a younger age. The thing many young people who get colon cancer have in common is that they have an unhealthy balance of bacteria in their guts. 

The gut microbiome is made up of all the bacteria, fungi and even viruses that live in your intestines. If a healthy microbiome can help prevent diseases like colon cancer, then how can you go about making sure you’re feeding the good bacteria and not the bad ones? Luckily, there’s been a lot of research on this topic! Let’s take a look at what doctors have to say about supporting a healthy digestive system…

Your bacteria are what you eat

One of the best ways to boost your gut health is by eating food that healthy bacteria love. Registered Dietician, Rachel Dyckman, recommends doing these 5 things to see an improvement in your microbiome right away:

  1. Eat prebiotic foods at every meal. You’ve probably heard of probiotics- they’re the supplements that contain healthy bacteria. Probiotics are what healthy bacteria like to eat. Some foods that contain a lot of prebiotics are apples, garlic, oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, artichokes and even dark chocolate.
  2. Try adding fermented foods to your diet. Sauerkraut, yogurt, pickles and kimchi are all great ways to add healthy bacteria to your gut naturally. And fermented foods also help feed the bacteria in your gut.
  3. Add plants to every meal. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables at each meal improves overall health, increases healthy gut bacteria and is associated with lower rates of disease, including cancer.
  4. Avoid Artificial sweeteners. Fake sweeteners in processed foods can damage healthy gut bacteria and are surprisingly linked to weight gain… both of which are risk factors for colon cancer. 
  5. Minimize foods that contain emulsifiers. You may have never heard of emulsifiers, but they are commonly added to processed foods to improve texture or keep liquids from separating. Read the food label. If it contains carrageenan, polysorbate, maltodextrin or methylcellulose, it’s probably not good for your gut! A simple rule to follow is if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it’s likely not good for you.

Get moving!

Many studies have shown that moderate exercise can improve your immune system. One study by the NIH showed that exercise actually improves the type of healthy bacteria that live in your gut and improves overall health. People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of many health conditions including colon cancer. And people who exercise respond better to treatment for colon cancer than those who don’t. 

Be on the lookout for sneaky dangers

Many people smoke or have a drink in order to relax. And we might reward ourselves with a donut or other sweet treat. But alcohol, tobacco and sugar -as well as processed meats- can cause inflammatory bacteria to thrive in your gut. Inflammation is one of the biggest reasons normal cells turn into cancer. Try to avoid or minimize inflammatory foods so that the healthy bacteria have a chance to survive, especially if you’re at increased risk for colon cancer.

The bottom line:

Your gut microbiome is made of trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses in your intestines. If you treat them right, the good bacteria can help reduce your risk of lots of diseases, including colon cancer.  When unhealthy bacteria take over, inflammation can develop which can lead to cancer. Eat healthy foods, exercise and avoid processed foods, sugar, alcohol and tobacco to boost your microbiome health. You’ll also reduce your risk of colon cancer. And remember to get screened for colon cancer starting at age 45. Check it for your family. Checkit4Andretti!


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