Below are several diet and fitness suggestions that may significantly lower your risk of colorectal cancer, regardless of your age:
? Eat more vegetables
Vegetables contain an array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds that are very difficult to get anywhere else, like magnesium. Results from one meta-analysis indicated that for every 100-milligram (mg) increase in magnesium intake, the risk of colorectal cancer was lowered by 12 percent.
The researchers noted magnesium’s anti-cancer effects may be related to its ability to reduce insulin resistance, which may positively affect the development of tumors.
Beyond magnesium, plant chemicals called phytochemicals can reduce inflammation and eliminate carcinogens, while others regulate the rate at which your cells reproduce, get rid of old cells and maintain DNA.
Vegetables are also one of the best forms of dietary fiber. Studies have repeatedly shown that people with higher vegetable intake have lower rates of cancer.
Cruciferous vegetables may be particularly beneficial due to the sulforaphane they contain. If you’re healthy, consuming fruit in moderation may also be beneficial. According to one study, dried plums (i.e. prunes) may lower your risk of colon cancer.
? Eat more fiber
For optimal health, I recommend getting about 50 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories. If you follow the tip above and eat more vegetables, you’ll naturally be eating more fiber from the best possible source.
Psyllium seed husk, flax seeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds also provide valuable sources of soluble and insoluble fiber that nourish healthy gut bacteria, promote healthy bowel movements and lower your risk of colorectal cancer.
? Optimize your vitamin D level
Vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for colorectal cancer. According to one recent study: “Evidence suggests protective effects of vitamin D and antitumor immunity on colorectal cancer risk.
Immune cells in tumor microenvironment can convert 25-hydroxyvitamin D to bioactive 1a,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, which influences neoplastic and immune cells … High plasma 25(OH)D level is associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer with intense immune reaction, supporting a role of vitamin D in cancer immunoprevention through tumor–host interaction.”
Sensible ultraviolet exposure, ideally from the sun, and/or vitamin D3 supplementation can get your vitamin D levels into the optimal range of 45 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). You’ll need to monitor your level to be sure you stay within this target range.
? Lower your protein intake and avoid processed meats entirely
Most Americans eat far more protein than they need, thereby raising their risk for cancer. A more ideal protein intake is likely around one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass.
The quality of your animal protein and mode of cooking should also be considered. When it comes to beef, I recommend eating organically raised grassfed meats only, and cooking your steak only lightly (rare, not well-done), to avoid heat-generated toxins.
Avoid processed meats of all kinds, i.e., those preserved by smoking, curing, salting or the addition of chemical preservatives. This includes bacon, ham, pastrami, salami, pepperoni, hot dogs, some sausages, hamburgers (if preserved with salt or chemical additives) and more.
? Get regular exercise
There’s convincing evidence that regular exercise can significantly reduce your risk of colon cancer. For instance, one study revealed physically active men and women have about a 30 percent to 40 percent reduction in the risk of developing colon cancer compared with inactive persons.
Exercise drives your insulin levels down, and controlling insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risk. It’s also been suggested that apoptosis (programmed cell death) is triggered by exercise, causing cancer cells to die.
Exercise also improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood. The job of these cells is to neutralize pathogens throughout your body, as well as destroy precancerous cells before they become cancerous.
The better these cells circulate, the more efficient your immune system is at defending itself against infections and diseases like cancer.
? Maintain a healthy weight and control belly fat
A number of studies have linked obesity to an increased risk for about a dozen different cancers, including colon cancer. If you’re overweight or obese, even a modest amount of weight loss can lead to significant benefits for your health.
In terms of cancer prevention, losing excess belly fat is particularly important, as belly fat is linked to an increased risk of colon cancer regardless of your body weight
? Limit alcohol and quit smoking
Both excessive alcohol intake and smoking are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. When it comes to alcohol, I generally define “moderate” alcohol intake (which is allowed in the beginner phase of my nutrition plan) as a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer or 1 ounce of hard liquor, with a meal, per day.
As you progress further in the nutrition plan, I recommend eliminating all forms of alcohol.
? Eat more garlic
Research has shown that women who regularly ate garlic (along with fruits and vegetables) had a 35 percent lower risk of colon cancer. Another study also found that those who consume high amounts of raw garlic have a lower risk of stomach and colorectal cancers.
When you add raw garlic in your diet, the fresh clove must be crushed or chopped in order to stimulate the release of an enzyme called alliinase, which in turn catalyzes the formation of allicin.
Allicin, in turn, rapidly breaks down to form a number of different organosulfur compounds. So to “activate” garlic’s medicinal properties, compress a fresh love with a spoon prior to swallowing it, chop it finely to add to a salad, or put it through your juicer to add to your vegetable juice.