By now, you almost certainly know that dietary decisions can play a key role in your health. And when it comes to your colon, it’s no different.
The foods you regularly eat can impact how your organs function and your risk for illness. A diet low in processed food is associated with better heart, metabolic, and brain health (and more), while a diet high in processed food can boost the risk for a host of chronic conditions.
Research released in August has reinforced that high consumption of ultra-processed foods can pose a severe threat to colon health.
So it might be time to rethink the convenience of pre-cooked or instant meals.
The study, led by Tufts University and Harvard University researchers, found that men who consumed high rates of ultra-processed foods were at a 29 percent higher risk for developing severe colorectal illness than men who consumed much smaller amounts.
Interestingly, the same association was not found in women.
Processed meats, for example, like cold cuts, frozen chicken strips, lunch meat, and bacon, fall into the ultra-processed food category, and pose a high risk for colorectal issues. Ultra-processed foods are also high in added sugars and low in fiber, which contributes to weight gain, obesity, and poor digestion. All of which are risk factors for poor colon health.
So what should you be doing – or avoiding – to give your shot the best chance for a healthy colon?
Here are some ideas:
Don’t rely on pre-cooked or frozen meals. Schedule time to cook a few times per week and freeze leftovers for later when you need a quick meal.
Do try to dedicate more time to shopping the perimeter of grocery stores. The perimeter is where you’ll find nutrient-dense and fiber-rich items like fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. You’ll also find dairy, which can be good for gut health.
Avoid sugary drinks like soda, sweetened tea, and specialty coffees. These are all associated with higher risks for colon troubles.
Do try and maintain a healthy weight through diet and activity.