As the final step in waste removal, feces form in your colon, move to the rectum and leave your body. Efficient stool formation, a process the presence of fiber directly affects, is essential to maintaining the health of your colon. According to the October 15, 2013 issue of "Toxicologic Pathology," a high--fiber diet can help promote colon health and reduce your risk of colon cancer.
Dietary fiber can be insoluble or soluble. What makes them different and determines their effect on colon health is the composition of cell walls. The cell walls of insoluble fiber contain cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, none of which can dissolve in water. In contrast, the cell walls of soluble fiber contain pectin and gum, both of which are water-soluble. Although each type affects your colon differently both are important, according to internal medicine and gastroenterology expert Dr. Frank W. Jackson.
Both insoluble and soluble fibers perform important functions within your colon. Insoluble fiber helps in stool formation by absorbing water to create a soft, yet bulky stool that is easy to pass. Insoluble fiber is a source of nourishment for the intestinal bacteria that help process waste.
A good, high-fiber diet includes 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day in a ratio of about three to one soluble to insoluble fiber, according to Dr. Sharon E. Griffin, nutritionist, exercise science and physiology expert. Good food sources for insoluble fiber include whole grain food products. Good sources for soluble fiber include unpeeled fruits and vegetables, especially apples, oranges and carrots, oatmeal , barley and legumes such as peas, beans and lentils. According to Jackson, three types of soluble fiber--inulin, oligofrustose and galacto-oligosaccharide--are the most beneficial to your colon. Foods such as onions, bananas, asparagus and yams are good sources.
Regular bowel movements keep fecal matter from building up in your colon. A high-fiber diet helps keep your bowels moving and functioning normally and in this way has a cleansing effect on your colon. The result of this cleansing effect is prevention of constipation, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome and the development of pouches in your colon that result from pressure on colon walls
Do not rely on a high-fiber diet as your sole method of colorectal cancer prevention. Instead, talk to your doctor and follow her recommendations for colon cancer screening. Although a high--fiber diet can help keep your colon clean and promote colon health, there is not enough evidence to prove it can reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer. According to a report from Harvard School of Public Health, studies currently show very mixed results.
- Toxicologic Pathology: Diet, Genes, and Microbes: Complexities of Colon Cancer Prevention
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fiber
- My Food Diary: Soluble and Insoluble Fiber: What is the Difference?
- CNCA Health: Tips to Keep Your Colon Healthy and Optimize Digestion
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fiber and Colon Cancer: Following the Scientific Trail