A high-fiber diet may help prevent colorectal cancer. Here are some healthy choices to add to your plate.
There are no bones about it – a diet rich in fiber can decrease your risk of colorectal cancer, multiple studies have found. In fact, for every 10 grams of fiber consumed daily, your risk of colorectal cancer may be reduced by 10%, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.
Colon cancer is the 3rd most common type of cancer in the United States, excluding skin cancers. Dietary fiber contributes to colon health by helping to prevent constipation and reducing the risk of polyps, hemorrhoids and pouches in the colon.
And what’s good for the colon is good for the rest of the body, too. High-fiber diets may also help you control blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and achieve a healthy weight.
To add more fiber to your diet, here’s a good rule to follow: Fill half of your plate with fiber-rich vegetables or fruits and one quarter of your plate with whole grains, beans or nuts, which also contain fiber. Then fill the final quarter with a source of protein. This can include animal protein, such as fish, poultry or meat, or you can go with a plant-based protein to up the fiber content even more. Keep in mind that eating too much red or processed meat can increase your risk of colorectal cancer.
If you need some incentive to modify your diet, consider this: It’s estimated that approximately 45% of colorectal cancers in the U.S. may be prevented by following a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.
Here are a few foods that should find a place on your plate:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains, including breads, cereals, rice and pasta
- Beans, peas and lentils
- Nuts and seeds
Fiber works best when it absorbs water, so drink plenty of fluids, preferably water. And if you haven’t been including much fiber in your diet up until now, add it in slowly so it doesn’t cause intestinal discomfort. Your body needs to adapt to increases in fiber gradually.
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