• By Julie Stefanski
  • In 2018
  • March 21, 2018

Eating for a Healthy Colon

By Jennifer Lynn-Pullman MA, CSOWM, RDN, LDN


March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. According to StopColonCancerNow.com 150,000 people each year will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 50,000 will die.  Genetics play a role in colorectal cancer development, however eating proper foods and making lifestyle changes can help prevent colorectal cancer as well as other diseases.

Nutrition for a Healthy Colon

  • Increase fiber
    • According to the American Cancer Society, recent large studies have suggested that diets rich in whole grains and in turn fiber result in lower colorectal cancer risk. Fiber helps move waste out of our colon.  There are two different types of fiber in our food: soluble and insoluble.  Whole grains contain insoluble fiber, which helps with motility of stool.  Basically this type of fiber helps keep your bowels regular and gets waste out of your body.
    • Good choices include brown rice, quinoa, oats, couscous, whole wheat breads and pasta, nuts, and beans.


  • Increase fruit and vegetables
    • Diets rich in plants have been show to lower risk of many diseases, including many forms of cancer. Like whole grains fruit and vegetable contain fiber. Many fruit and vegetables contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. As previously discussed insoluble fiber helps with regularity. Soluble fiber helps create bulk of stool.  Imagine this type of fiber helping to gather all the waste and getting it ready to exit your body.
    • Fibrous plants to include: broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, avocado, apples, and pears.
    • Fruit and vegetables not only contain necessary vitamins and minerals, but are rich source of antioxidants and phytochemicals, which may provide protection from disease.
    • Aim for at least 5 per day.


  • Decrease red meat and/or processed meats
    • There is evidence that high intake of saturated fat increases colorectal cancer risk.
    • Risk is even greater when meat is blackened or charred due to carcinogens produced during high heat (direct flame) cooking.
    • Choose lean meats such as fish and chicken. Nuts, nut butters, and beans are also excellent protein choices.



  • Fill 2/3 of your plate with plants, including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts! The remaining 1/3 with lean protein.


Other Lifestyle Changes

  • Stop smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
    • Risk of colorectal cancer increases with increased body weight. Being overweight or obese is a strong risk factor for both men and women. Increased belly fat has been linked as well.
  • Physical Activity


Jennifer Pullman MA, CSOWM, RDN, LDN has been a practicing dietitian since 2001.  Since 2007 Jen has solely worked with patients undergoing weight loss surgery including Roux Y gastric bypass, lap-bands, and sleeve gastrectomy.  In addition to her work as a bariatric dietitian Jen runs two blogs: www.nourishedsimply.com a general nutrition and recipe blog and www.bariatricbits.com a website dedicated to providing nutrition information for weight loss surgery patients.  Jennifer recently became one of the first dietitian’s awarded the new Certification in Obesity and Weight Management.