Happy National Nutrition Month! March is also Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so it is fitting to discuss to improve gut health through proper nutrition.
Having a healthy gut may impact us more than previously thought by having a positive effect on our immune system, brain, sleep patterns and cancer risk, and it may help prevent some autoimmune diseases.
Here are six ways you improve your get health through diet:
Increase fiber. There is probable evidence that fiber decreases the risk of colon cancer. High-fiber foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Fiber also helps to bulk and soften stool and may help to prevent constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. Aim for about 30 grams of fiber per day.
Increase cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. These veggies are a good source of fiber, and current research has shown they may help to reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Add fermented foods. Fermented foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, miso and yogurt. These foods have probiotics that help to improve the normal microflora in the gut, improve digestion and can boost your immune system.
Drink water. Water is beneficial to help keep stool soft and bulky to allow for ease of travel through the digestive system. It also helps in the digestion and absorption of the nutrients we need. Aim for at least 64 ounces of water daily.
Decrease red meat consumption. The American Institute of Cancer Research recommends no more than 12 to 18 ounces of cooked red meat per week including beef, pork and lamb; it also suggest to eat little to no processed meats.
Be mindful of alcohol intake. Strong evidence shows that increased alcohol consumption increases the risk of colon and many other forms of cancer. The recommendation for daily alcohol consumption is no more than one drink for women and two for men. One drink is either 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 ½ shots of distilled spirits.
Make sure to talk to your doctor about when you should start getting colon cancer screenings and if you are at an increased risk.