The colon, or large intestine, has the significant role of processing waste in the digestive system to enable healthy and easy bowel movements (See Reference 4). Poor bowel movements are symptomatic of an unhealthy colon, which may be attributed to poor diet as well as environmental toxins. Toxins from food may be absorbed into the bloodstream instead of eliminated in the presence of damaged colon walls. Dietary improvements can help improve colon health and aid in the prevention of digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer (See Reference 5).
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According to the Cancer Nutrition Centers of America, consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with lower risk of cancer, including colon cancer (See Reference 5). Cruciferous veggies contain phytonutrients that fight against cancer, in particular the sulfur-containing compounds glucosinolates. Fill your plate with broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy and kale for good colon health.
Resistant starches are carbs that bypass digestion in the small intestine and enter the large intestine in near original form. These starches act to promote good bacterial growth in the gut which can help ease digestive disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and cancer risks. Root vegetables such as yams, sweet potatoes and winter squashes contain resistant starches as do seed hulls, rice and legumes (See Reference 2).
Probiotics are friendly bacteria that help to improve the balance of good to bad intestinal microflora in the gut (See Reference 3). You can help to repair poor gut health by eating probiotic-rich foods such as sauerkraut, miso, yogurt or kimchi (See Reference . A study in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology Nutrition suggests that subjects with irritable bowel syndrome could benefit from probiotic use (See Reference 7).
Supplements and Herbs
Vitamin A, glutamine and fish oil may help prevent and treat irritable bowel disease to improve colon health. Furthermore, herbs such as tumeric have anti-inflammatory properties that can help heal poor gut health by reducing inflammation (See Reference 6). The American Cancer Society cites curcumin, an active ingredient in tumeric, has shown anti-cancer effects in animal laboratory studies. Further research is needed into its effect on humans (See Reference 8).