10 ways to keep your colon healthy

How fiber, fruit, and fitness can help

Worried about developing colorectal cancer, one of the most common cancers in men and women? Stick to these 10 habits to keep your colon healthy:

  1. Boost calcium. Calcium may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Get it from almonds, low-fat milk, dark-green veggies, cottage cheese and yogurt. Men should limit calcium to 1,500 mg a day, as too much calcium may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
  2. Eat more fruits and veggies. They’re good sources of fiber, which adds bulk to the waste that moves through your intestines.
  3. Seek a bit of sun. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. It comes mainly from sunlight (10 minutes a day is all you need), but can also be found in salmon, mackerel, fortified milk and eggs.
  4. “B” smart. Folic acid, an essential B vitamin, may reduce your risk of colon cancer. Lentils, collard greens, chickpeas, asparagus, broccoli, peas, papaya and oranges are good sources.
  5. Butt out. Smoking can cause colorectal cancer, so if you smoke, quit.
  6. Get slim. Obesity raises the risk of colon cancer in both men and women. If you’re overweight, ask your healthcare provider about a weight-loss plan that will work for you.
  7. Cut back on beef. Eating too much red or processed meat has been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer, so choose chicken instead.
  8. Ease up on alcohol. Drinking too much (more than one drink a day for women; two for men) can cause colon problems, so if you drink, do so in moderation.
  9. Stay active. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week. It may reduce your risk of colon cancer.
  10. Get screened. The ACS recommends that all men and women get screened for colon cancer at age 50. Colonoscopy is the gold standard when it comes to colon cancer screening. Your doctor looks inside your large intestine using a tiny camera that’s attached to a long, thin tube. Schedule your appointment now—people who get screened regularly greatly reduce their risk of colorectal cancer.