4 Ways to Keep Your Colon Healthy
Of all the health-related topics we address in the fitness industry, colorectal health is one of the most uncomfortable issues to address. Until the tragic and untimely passing of actor Chadwick Boseman due to colon cancer, many of us had never even given this type of cancer a second thought. Isn’t this a type of cancer that generally only affects older people? How could this happen to someone so young? As we collectively began seeking answers to these questions, the truth became apparent. Colorectal cancer is currently the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. (second to lung cancer) and is starting to appear in an increasing number of younger people.
So what should you be doing? Since many of the early symptoms are vague or easily interpreted as symptoms of a manageable gastrointestinal disorder, people are often unaware they even have a problem. If you have a family history of polyps or colon cancer, experts are urging colonoscopy screening to begin at age 45 instead of 50. If you are otherwise a healthy individual with no previous family history, pay attention to your body (yes, even the unpleasant trips to the restroom that no one wants to talk about!). These conversations are important to have and could literally save your life! Most importantly, set yourself up for success by keeping your colon healthy with these steps.
Eat Your Vegetables
Diets that include lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, and grains have been linked with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. Try to cut back on red meat (this means beef, pork, or lamb) and processed meat like hot dogs and sausage, which have been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
Keep Your Body Moving
We talk ALL the time about how important for overall health it is to keep your body in motion. And we know this is tricky when you spend 8 hours a day sitting in front of a computer screen. However, this is all the more reason to make sure you are getting in your 10,000+ steps a day and getting your heart rate up. A minimum of 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise can lower your risk of developing some cancers, including colon cancer.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you packed on the “quarantine 15” last year from too much homemade banana bread, high anxiety and a lack of exercise, don’t stress! Take action by making a plan to start shedding those extra pounds—not just for the sake of vanity, but for the sake of your health. Carrying extra pounds increases your risk of developing colon cancer, as well as breast, rectal, esophageal and kidney cancers.
Cut Back on Alcohol
Here in Wilmington, it’s especially tempting to crave a “cold one” while cruising in your boat on the Intracoastal Waterway, or tossing back a few too many while lounging at the beach on a hot summer day. But limiting your intake of alcohol can help lower your chances of developing cancer. Not to be a buzzkill (pun intended!), but this means no more than one drink a day for women, and two drinks a day for men.