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Diet plan, lifestyle changes to help prevent colorectal cancer

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Apr 22, 2024 03:00 PM IST

Research shows lifestyle and diet choices significantly impact one’s risk of colorectal cancer. Health expert shares diet plan and lifestyle tips for prevention

While traditionally uncommon in India, colorectal cancer is becoming a more serious health threat and it is the second most common cancer affecting both genders. Though factors like age and family history are unchangeable, research shows lifestyle and diet choices significantly impact one’s risk.

Diet plan, lifestyle changes to help prevent colorectal cancer (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Diet plan, lifestyle changes to help prevent colorectal cancer (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Darshan Patil, Consultant - Surgical Oncology at Aster CMI Hospital in Bangalore, suggested how your lifestyle and diet can affect your risk -

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A) Nutritional Practices:

  1. Cut back on processed meats like sausages, bacon, and ham. Limit red meat like beef and lamb too. Instead, focus on protein sources that are good for you like lentils, beans, chicken, and fish.
  • Why It matters: Eating a lot of processed and red meat has been linked to a higher chance of getting colorectal cancer. Reasons might include nitrates and nitrites added to processed meats, and harmful chemicals formed when cooking red meat at high temperatures.
  • Advise: Many protein staples in Indian cuisine are already perfect. Embrace lentils, beans, chickpeas, and tofu. Explore delicious fish recipes and lean poultry dishes to keep your protein needs met healthily.

2. Boost Your Fiber Consumption: In addition to promoting a healthy gut environment, fiber shortens the duration that hazardous compounds are in contact with the colon lining during intestinal transit.

  • Why it matters: Consuming fiber can aid in the colon's dilution and removal of possible carcinogens. Additionally, it supports good gut flora, which contributes to the prevention of colorectal cancer.
  • Advice: Include whole grains in your meals, such as whole wheat rotis, millet, and brown rice. Savor a range of vibrant veggies, including eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach. To increase your intake of fiber and antioxidants, include fruits like apples, bananas, pears, and mangoes.

3. Weight Control: Numerous malignancies, including colorectal cancer, have obesity as a proven risk factor. Hormonal imbalances and chronic inflammation are two factors that can lead to cancer growth when there is an excess of body fat.

  • Why it matters: Retaining a healthy weight lowers insulin levels and inflammation, which can impact the risk of cancer.
  • Advice: Restrict processed snacks that are heavy in refined carbs and bad fats. Emphasize eating meals that are prepared at home using healthy oils like coconut or mustard oil. Controlling portion size is essential.

B) Lifestyle Practices:

  1. Be Physically Active: Exercising regularly lowers inflammation in the body, promotes intestinal health generally, and aids in maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Why it matters: Exercise lowers inflammation and aids in regulating insulin levels, two factors that may impact the risk of cancer.
  • Advice: Spend at least half an hour most days of the week doing something you enjoy, like yoga, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or swimming. Use the stairs rather than the elevator and spread out your daily activity into little spurts.

2. Limit Alcohol Consumption: Drinking too much alcohol raises the risk of colorectal cancer. Alcohol can harm the colon's lining and make it more difficult for nutrients to be absorbed.

  • Why it matters: Drinking too much alcohol can cause inflammation and intestinal irritation.
  • Advice: Use alcohol in moderation or don't drink at all. If you do decide to drink, try to stick to a daily limit of one drink for women and two for men.

3. Abstain from Smoking: One of the main risk factors for many cancers, including colorectal cancer, is smoking. Smoking impairs the immune system and harms all of the body's cells.

  • Why it matters: Smoking weakens the body's defenses against the development of cancer and exposes the colon to dangerous carcinogens.
  • Advice: To assist you in quitting, look for support groups for quitting smoking or discuss nicotine replacement medication with your physician. Many resources are available to assist you in overcoming this addiction.

Remember that even while these lifestyle modifications can greatly lower your risk, routine colorectal cancer screenings are essential, particularly if you have a family history of the disease or are above the age of 50.

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