Eating to Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Proper nutrition and diet are important in helping to prevent many diseases and colorectal cancer is no exception. In the fight against this disease, nutritional guidelines include eating less fat and getting more nutrients from the food you eat rather than from supplements.
Dietary Fat and Colorectal Cancer
Dietary fat may be one of the biggest contributors to the colorectal cancer-causing process. High fat consumption increases the amount of substances that are released into the digestive tract called bile acids. Bile acids help break down fats. When they get into the colon, the large amount of bile acids may be converted to secondary bile acids, which could promote tumor growth, especially of the cells that line the colon.
Antioxidants and Colorectal Cancer
Another important substance in the fight against colorectal and other cancers is the antioxidant. Antioxidants work by bolstering the body's defenses against potentially dangerous substances called free radicals.
Free radicals are one of the by-products of oxygen use by every cell in our body. These substances damage the body's cells through oxidation, the same process that rusts metal and turns butter rancid. Oxidation has also been shown to contribute to heart disease, cataracts, aging, and infections.
The body's cells have a natural defense strategy against free radicals and are able to repair the damage caused by them. However antioxidants, such as selenium and beta-carotene, help reinforce this protection. However, in clinical trials, neither of these agents has been shown to reduce cancer development. Studies have shown that antioxidants are best taken as foods as opposed to supplements. Some examples of antioxidants are carotene, beta-carotene, and lutein. Foods that are good sources of antioxidants include fruits, vegetables, and certain types of tea.
Other Vitamins and Minerals
Folic Acid. Evidence now exists that suggests that folic acid is an excellent weapon in the fight against cancer. It's already known to be essential in forming new cells and tissues as well as keeping red blood cells healthy. The most common sources of folic acid are citrus fruits and dark green leafy vegetables, especially spinach.
Calcium and Vitamin D. Recent studies have suggested that these two substances may not only strengthen bones, but may also fight off colon cancer. Good sources of calcium include: milk, cheese, yogurt, salmon, sardines, and dark-green leafy vegetables such as kale, mustard, and collard greens. Sources of vitamin D include salmon, sardines, fortified cow's milk, egg yolks, and chicken livers -- and don't forget the sun. Twenty minutes of sun before 10 a.m. and after 3 p.m. is an excellent source of vitamin D.
Fiber and Your Colon
Fiber is thought to be a powerful weapon against cancer. Though there is conflicting research as to whether or not fiber has protective effects against colorectal cancer, there is evidence that fiber intake improves overall health by moving wastes through the digestive tract faster. This may give potentially toxic wastes less time to come into contact with intestinal cells. It is also believed that some types of fiber help detoxify potential cancer-causing substances as well as prevent these substances from being absorbed by the cells of the intestines. Good sources of fiber include: whole-grain cereals and breads, prunes, berries, kidney beans and other legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, and brown rice.