Contributed By Valerie Agyeman, Women’s Health Dietitian
When it comes to preventing colorectal cancer, getting screened and making intentional choices about your nutrition and lifestyle can make a big difference. When you pay attention to nutrition, you are ensuring that you maintain adequate levels of essential vitamins and nutrients to help keep your body healthy.
While colorectal cancer can be both genetic and, more often, random in nature, diet has long been an interest of researchers seeking to prevent this disease. In fact, one study showed that dietary factors contributed to nearly 50% of colorectal cancer cases.
Below, I’ve listed a few different nutrients and foods that can help keep you healthy.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that has been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer when adequate levels are achieved. Sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as tuna or salmon, fortified dairy products, as well as some time in the sun, or supplementation as needed.
Fiber intake is necessary to keep the bowel functioning properly. Foods rich in fiber include whole grains, beans, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Long-chain fatty acids have been proven to play a protective role in the development of colorectal cancer. You can incorporate omega-3’s with food sources such as salmon, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and fortified foods such as eggs.
Antioxidants work to protect the cells from oxidative stress, which makes them vitally important in preventing colorectal cancer. Whole foods with vitamin E, C, A are antioxidant-rich. You can find them in fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, strawberries, oranges, and dark leafy greens like spinach and kale.
In addition to nutrition, lifestyle choices can also help to prevent colorectal cancer. Here a few lifestyle choices to consider.
Physical activity and movement
Maintaining a consistent, moderate to vigorous exercise routine filled with activities you enjoy can significantly reduce the chances of developing cancer, but simply avoiding a sedentary lifestyle can be beneficial, too. Take time to unplug away from the screen, get up to move regularly throughout the day, add in walks and stretches too.
Manage stress levels
Stress is one of the biggest threats to our health, so it is incredibly important to take action to reduce stress in the body to prevent serious health concerns such as colorectal cancer. Cortisol, the hormone secreted in states of stress, acts as an immunosuppressant and causes the body to function less-optimally. Learning how to cope in situations of stress, or removing stress-inducing aspects will be beneficial to your health.
Valerie Agyeman is a women’s health dietitian, a top Black influencer in healthy eating, and founder of Flourish Heights, a nutrition communications practice empowering women in wellness. Follow Valerie on Twitter at @flourisheights.
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