March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The third most common cancer among men and women in the United States, cancer and nutrition experts say over 50 percent of colorectal cancers are preventable by combining a diet that includes fiber with daily physical activity and weight management.
In 2013, the American Institute for Cancer Research and World Cancer Research Fund co-published five steps based on scientific studies that demonstrate risk reduction. Consider these nutrition-centered strategies for getting extra protection from colon cancer.
For every 10 grams of dietary fiber you eat each day, your risk for developing colorectal cancer is reduced by 10 percent.
High-fiber diets encourage the growth of healthy types of intestinal bacteria that protects against cancer cell development. High-fiber food ideas: whole grain breads, bean soups and stews, nuts for snacks, vegetables and fruits, add ground flaxseed to your smoothies and cereals.
Cut calories and focus on reducing your waist circumference.
The deep fat in the abdomen poses the most risk and the fat is linked to inflammation and changes in insulin. Tip: Swap less healthy foods for healthier ones and drink more water, seltzer, tea or coffee instead of sugary sodas, sweet tea or specialty coffee drinks. Try not to reach for food when you are relaxing, instead take a walk, listen to music or read a book.
Drinking excess alcohol (more than 1 drink for women and 2 drinks per day for men) increases colon cancer risk by 14 percent.
Tip: Watch the size of your glass. They tend to be bigger and hold more ounces than you may realize.
Limiting processed meats and read meats (beef, lamb and pork) to 18 ounces a week.
(Each 3.5-ounce portion of red meat eaten daily increases colorectal cancer risk by 17 percent.) Tip: Swap out processed deli meats for fish. Also try meatless meals, but those that include beans.
Four types of foods show colon cancer fighting potential: Garlic, calcium-fortified foods like milk, deep green and cruciferous vegetables, and red and orange fruits.
Tip: Fill half of your plate first with vegetables and fruits that will automatically leave less space for the meats and starches.