Eating More Whole Grains Could Prevent Colon Cancer



Red meat and processed meat can be highly inflammatory and are linked to a greater risk of colon cancer. A plant-based diet is more globally sustainable and can help prevent chronic disease. Research shows that eating a high intake of whole grains can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer.

Replacing Animal Protein with Plant Protein

A collective group of researchers from Nordic universities and institutions proposed to reduce red meat consumption in Europe and replace it with whole-grain foods.

“Both scientists and (the) public seem to have missed the yet untapped potential that grains can contribute towards a more sustainable food system and a healthier population,” said Professor Rikard Landberg from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. “Even small changes in dietary patterns could make a large difference both to environment and health and grains could represent one of these possibilities" (Medical Xpress).

It is a fact that whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet. The American Association of Cereal Chemists defines whole grains as consisting of the “intact, ground, cracked or flaked caryopsis (grain), whose principal anatomical components—the starchy endosperm, germ and bran—are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact [grain].”

Refined grains have some or all of the bran layers removed during processing, reducing fiber and micronutrients. A high-fiber diet is important for colon cancer prevention because fiber:

  • increases stool bulk
  • dilutes fecal carcinogens
  • decreases the transit time of digested food in the intestines, thus reducing the contact between carcinogens and the colon's lining (NCBI).

How to Add More Whole Grains to Your Diet

You can make small, daily changes to your diet to increase your whole grain intake. Here are a few ways to get started:

  1. Choose whole-grain pasta, bread, tortillas, bagels and buns. Look at the grams of dietary fiber per serving. The higher the fiber, the fuller you will feel.
  2. Eat a high-fiber, whole-grain breakfast cereal or oatmeal. Choose whole grains over refined items when selecting bread, buns, bagels, tortillas, pasta and other grains.
  3. Try new grains like quinoa, barley, buckwheat, millet and whole rye. Buy large amounts in bulk and add them to salads and soups.
  4. Eat whole grain snacks. Popcorn is a whole grain and contains 3.5 grams of dietary fiber in a three-cup serving (Eat Right).

Schedule a Colonoscopy to Prevent Colon Cancer

Eating more high-fiber foods can help prevent colon cancer, but the best way to lower your risk is to get a colon cancer screening. A colonoscopy is the gold standard for colon screening because your doctor can view your entire colon and remove any polyps or abnormal tissue during the exam.

The American Cancer Society now recommends that all adults at average risk for colon cancer begin screening at age 45 instead of 50. However, some individuals at high risk may need to get screened earlier. In addition, individuals with digestive symptoms should consult with their physician, since colonoscopy might be appropriate for further evaluation.

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