Digestion : Healthy Diet for Colon Health

By Gale Pearson

Special to the Clipper

If your resolution this New Year is weight-loss, now is a good time to evaluate what you're putting on your plate.

In 2010, the updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans encouraged a diet of whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean proteins and a high volume of fruits and vegetables, as well as a better understanding of correct portions.

Following these recommended dietary guidelines greatly decreases the risk of becoming overweight and developing certain diseases, such as colorectal cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

Each year, cancer of the colon and rectum kills more Americans than any other cancer, except lung, prostate and breast cancer.

Some risk factors for the disease, such as age or family history, are things patients cannot help. Maintaining a healthy weight, adhering to the dietary guidelines and exercising regularly are all steps patients can take to reduce their risk of developing colon cancer.

People have good intentions when it comes to eating healthier, but they don't know where to start. There is so much incorrect information about what foods are healthful (or not) that making food choices often becomes overwhelming and confusing.

I create individualized menu plans and grocery lists for all of my patients. I also encourage them to try one new vegetable a week, whether it's adding sliced peppers to a sandwich instead of the usual lettuce, or cooking a brand new dish just because they've never tried eggplant.

The biggest misconception that people have is that cooking a healthful meal is time-consuming. Most vegetables are quick to cook, and fruits require little or no preparation.

A quick way to get information to keep your body healthy is to use some of the great websites and apps available. Loseit.com is one my favorites for people who eat out often, so they can look up nutritional information at restaurants.

Another free online tool is www.choosemyplate.gov/supertracker/; this useful website can help with healthy choices and tracking food intake.

The American Cancer Society and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend our food intake should come mainly from plant- based sources for adequate fiber and antioxidants.

Limit your intake of red and processed meats and refined grains, and keep in mind liquid calories from lattes, sodas, juices and alcohol can quickly add up.

© 2012 The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star, Norfolk, VA. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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