Health and Wellness: Colon health

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Health Department
Special to Dallas County News and Perry Chief

There are five main strategies to keep your colon healthy: eat high-fiber foods, exercise, keep your weight in a normal range, limit alcohol and don’t smoke and get a colon cancer screening according to recommendations for your age, risk factors and family history.

The links between diet, weight, exercise and colorectal cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer. A colonoscopy is more than a screening tool. It can actually prevent cancer by discovering precancerous changes, called polyps, that are removed before developing into cancer.

Your colon is the one place where bacteria is a good thing. A healthy colon contains billions of beneficial bacteria. Diversify your gut microbiome with a diet containing high-fiber foods. To increase fiber in your diet, eat fruit, vegetables and whole grain bread and cereal. While sugar isn’t directly linked to colon cancer, sugary beverages and foods can cause weight gain.

Exercising regularly aids in digestion, helping push food along your digestive system. And a word on your bathroom habits. Even with a busy schedule, use the bathroom as soon as you feel a bowel movement coming. Holding onto your movements can allow toxins to release back into your body.