5 Ways to Show Your Colon Some Love

Written By Christy Brissette

Do you know your colon is a powerhouse of peristalsis (muscle contractions and relaxations that move food through your digestive system) and a haven for healthy bacteria? This fun video from Colonversation highlights all the wonderful things your colon does for you, and asks the question – what can you do for your colon? Eating well and being active are important tools to help prevent colorectal cancer and keep it from coming back. Research based in the United States suggests that by following just a few healthy lifestyle recommendations, nearly half of colorectal cancers could be prevented.

Here are the top 5 things you can do to help prevent cancer from coming back (called recurrence) and to lower your risk of getting a new type of cancer (called a secondary cancer). These tips also help prevent other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. There are no guarantees that following these recommendations will keep cancer away, but they will certainly lower your risk. Make your health and wellness a priority – now is the time to make positive changes.

1. Enjoy more garlic.

Image of garlicResults from several population studies shows that the more garlic people eat, the lower their risk of colorectal and stomach cancers. Cell and animal studies suggest that garlic may help fight cancer by repairing healthy cells and preventing cancer cells from growing and dividing. The World Health Organization recommends eating at least 1 clove of garlic each day for general health. Try our Whole Roasted Garlic Crostini for a delicious way to include more garlic in your diet.

2. Limit red meat and avoid processed meat.

Eating more than 18 ounces (cooked) of red meat per week increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Any amount of processed meat, such as hotdogs, bacon and deli meats can also increase your risk. Try replacing meat with fish, eggs or lean chicken and turkey. Also try having vegetarian meals more often for extra fibre.

3. Choose vegetarian foods more often.

Image of Smoky Mole Vegetarian chilli recipe

Diets rich in foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts and seeds are associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer. These foods are naturally high in nutrients and fibre. Fibre helps to keep the colon healthy by keeping food moving through your digestive tract. Some types of fibre act as food for the healthy bacteria in your colon, which may also lower colon cancer risk. People who eat high fibre diets also tend to be leaner.

If you have an ostomy bag or have had a bowel obstruction, talk to your doctor or dietitian about how much fibre you should have each day.

Need vegetarian recipe ideas? Visit the ELLICSR Kitchen Vegetarian Mains recipes page.

4. Be active.

Not only does physical activity help you get and stay lean, but it reduces your risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Walking is a great way to get started. Start slowly and aim for 30 minutes every day. It doesn’t have to be all at once – you can break it up into 10 minutes of activity three times each day.

5. Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

Extra body fat, especially around your waist, can increase your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. To find out if you are at a healthy body weight, if you are between the ages of 18 and 65, you can use a body mass index (BMI) calculator online on websites such as Dietitians of Canada. If you are over the age of 65, ask your registered dietitian what is a healthy weight for you. You can also try measuring your waist using guidelines on the Heart and Stroke Foundation website.

If you are overweight, lose weight slowly by making positive lifestyle changes such as eating more vegetables and drinking water rather than juice or soda.


Does it seem overwhelming to follow these tips? That’s why I encourage people to follow the 80-20 rule (I like it so much I made it my Twitter handle, @80twentyrule). The 80-20 rule means aim to eat a healthy diet 80% of the time and enjoy “other” foods 20% of the time. Because, let's face it, it’s difficult to eat a healthy diet 100% of the time, and all-or-nothing thinking can set us up for failure.So yes, you can enjoy that piece of cake or a glass of wine with dinner as long as you are eating well the rest of the time.

If you have questions or ideas about how to make a balanced, healthy lifestyle work for you, tweet me @80twentyrule or email me at Christy@ELLICSRkitchen.ca.