Eating for Colon Health

A healthy, balanced diet is an essential part of maintaining colon health.

“Only a small percent of colon cancer is hereditary,” says Sherry Henricks, APN/CNP, Northwestern Medicine. “That means dietary lifestyle choices play a large role in colon health.”

Many of the components of healthy eating ring especially true for colon health. Foods associated with a lower risk of colon cancer include yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, which are high in beta-carotene, and fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains.

Try to incorporate these foods into your diet:

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Summer squash
  • Brown rice
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Beans
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Broccoli

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in wild salmon, walnuts and olive or canola oil, can also contribute to a colon-healthy diet, and recent research from Northwestern Medicine suggests even coffee could be beneficial

On the flip side, processed foods pose a risk to colon health, which means avoiding bacon, sausage, hot dogs and lunchmeats. You should also limit fatty cuts of red meats.

Eating for colon health is easier and more instinctive than you may expect. 

Here are three recipes to get you started:

In addition to eating well, maintaining a healthy weight and preventative screenings like colonoscopies are also important. Learn more about preventing colorectal cancer from this Q and A with a Northwestern Medicine gastroenterologist.