Bowel cancer is also known as colorectal cancer. This prevalent form of cancer affects your colon or rectum. It’s estimated to be the third most common cancer worldwide, of which the survival rate is nearly 90% at the localized stage.
On the other hand, bowel or colorectal cancer can be life-threatening if spread throughout the body. However, certain lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer.
You can improve this condition and overall health and well-being through a few simple modifications in your daily routine.
Let’s explore eleven simple lifestyle changes that can help lower the risks of bowel cancer while promoting a healthier digestive system.
1. Healthy Dietary Choices
Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial in reducing the risk of bowel cancer. Consider the following dietary recommendations:
- Increase Fiber Intake: Add fiber-rich foods in your daily diet, such as whole grains, fibrous fruits and vegetables, legumes, and nuts. Fiber aids in healthy digestion and proper bowel movement. It also prevents constipation and helps eliminate waste efficiently.
- Limit Red and Processed Meat: Red meat (beef, pork, lamb, etc.) and processed meats (sausages, hot dogs, bacon, etc.) have been linked to an increased risk of bowel cancer. Eat these meats sparingly and opt for lean protein alternatives like poultry, fish, and plant-based protein sources.
- Embrace a Plant-Based Diet: Consider adding more plant-based foods to your meals. Many consider vegetables and fruits as plant-based foods only. However, legumes, beans, nuts, oils, seeds, etc., belong to a plant-based diet chart.
- Choose Healthy Fats: Suit yourself to healthy fats, such as olive oil, sunflower oil, canola, avocados, fish, and nuts. Besides, control your love for saturated and trans fats in fried foods, processed snacks, and fatty meats.
2. Regular Screening and Awareness
Regular screening plays a crucial role in detecting bowel cancer in the early stage. At this time around, treatment is most effective.
Consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate screening options based on age, family history, symptoms, and other risk factors. They may run regular health screening blood tests to detect any sign of colorectal cancer or similar complications in your system.
Moreover, stay informed about the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer. These may include persistent changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, unexplained weight loss, and abdominal pain. Remember, early detection of bowel cancer can significantly improve treatment outcomes.
3. Regular Physical Activity
Engaging in regular physical activity is not only beneficial for overall health but can also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Spend 150 minutes on moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes on vigorous activity each week.
Make yourself used to daily brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, or dancing. You’ll be amazed at how physical activity promotes better digestion, helps maintain a healthy weight, and lowers the risk of obesity. Altogether, regular physical activities put these conditions off while reducing the risk of bowel cancer.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
You’re wrong if you aren’t concerned about your excess body weight, especially around the waistline. Excessive weight is associated with an increased risk of bowel cancer.
Nonetheless, implementing strategies to maintain a healthy weight can have significant preventive effects. Consider the following:
- Balanced Caloric Intake: Consume a balanced diet that meets your energy needs. Avoid excessive calorie consumption, especially from sugary beverages and processed snacks.
- Portion Control: Be mindful of portion sizes to avoid overeating. Use smaller plates and practice mindful eating, savoring each bite and eating slowly.
- Regular Weigh-ins: Monitor your weight regularly and take action if you’ve gained excessive weight. Consult a healthcare professional for guidance on weight management and the appropriate diet and lifestyle.
4. Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol Consumption
Many may overlook this, but smoking and excessive alcohol consumption have been associated with an increased risk of various cancers, including bowel cancer.
The good news is there’s still a chance of controlling the condition. Quitting smoking and moderating alcohol intake can significantly lower the risk of colorectal cancer:
- Smoking Cessation: Seek support to quit smoking if you’re a chain smoker. Smoking cessation has numerous health benefits and can reduce the risk of bowel cancer and other smoking-related diseases.
- Alcohol Moderation: Limit alcohol consumption to moderate levels, like 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men at best in a day. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) or alcohol addiction is associated with an increased risk of bowel cancer.
6. Increase Consumption of Calcium and Vitamin D
Ensure an adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D, as studies suggest that these nutrients may have a protective effect against bowel cancer. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified plant-based milk. Vitamin D can be obtained from sunlight exposure, fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and supplements. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine your individual needs for these nutrients.
7. Stay Hydrated and Limit Sugary Beverages
Maintaining proper hydration is essential for a healthy digestive system. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated and support optimal bowel function.
Avoid excessive sugary beverages such as sodas, energy drinks, and fruit juices, as they can contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of bowel cancer.
8. Limit Processed and Fast Foods
Processed and fast foods often contain unhealthy fats, sodium, and additives and lack important nutrients. Limit your intake of these foods and instead opt for fresh, whole foods prepared at home. Cooking your meals from scratch allows you to have control over the ingredients, ensuring a healthier and more balanced diet.
9. Stress Management and Relaxation Techniques
Chronic stress and anxiety can harm overall health, including the digestive system. Practice stress management techniques to boost your wellness, such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in hobbies that help you relax.
Managing stress effectively can support a healthier gut and reduce the risk of bowel cancer.
10. Regular Bowel Movements and Avoidance of Constipation
Maintaining regular bowel movements is essential for bowel health. Ensure an adequate intake of dietary fiber to promote regularity and prevent constipation. Additionally, establish healthy bathroom habits by responding promptly to the urge to have a bowel movement and avoiding prolonged sitting on the toilet.
11. Incorporate Probiotics and Fermented Foods
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can promote a healthy gut microbiome. Consider enjoying probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented foods. These amazing foods can help support a balanced gut flora, crucial in maintaining bowel health.
Remember, these lifestyle changes should be aligned with regular medical check-ups and screenings. However, each individual’s risk factors and needs may vary, so it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance.
6 Symptoms of Bowel Cancer
Symptoms of bowel cancer can vary from person to person, and some individuals may not experience any symptoms in the early stages. Even so, it’s essential to be aware of the following six potential signs and symptoms, as they may indicate the presence of bowel cancer:
- Changes in Bowel Habits: Persistent changes in bowel movements, such as diarrhea or constipation that lasts for several weeks without apparent cause, should be noted. Unexplained changes in the stools’ consistency, size, or shape may also occur.
- Blood in the Stool: The presence of blood in the stool, either visible or detected through a fecal occult blood test (FOBT), may indicate bowel cancer. This blood may appear bright red or dark and tarry.
- Abdominal Discomfort or Pain: Cramping, pain, or discomfort in the abdomen, particularly if it persists or worsens over time, could be a symptom of bowel cancer. This discomfort may be accompanied by bloating or a feeling of fullness.
- Unexplained Weight Loss: A healthcare professional should evaluate significant and unintentional weight loss that occurs without any known cause or changes in diet or exercise. Unexplained weight loss can be a symptom of various health conditions, including bowel cancer.
- Fatigue and Weakness: Persistent fatigue and weakness that do not improve with rest may be a symptom of bowel cancer. This fatigue may result from the cancer’s impact on the body’s energy levels.
- Iron Deficiency Anemia: Chronic bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, which can be caused by bowel cancer, may lead to iron deficiency anemia. Symptoms may include fatigue, pale skin, weakness, and shortness of breath.
It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions unrelated to bowel cancer.
However, if you experience any of these symptoms, consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and diagnosis without wasting much time. Early detection and treatment of bowel cancer can greatly improve outcomes and survival rates.
Reducing the risk of bowel cancer involves making simple yet impactful lifestyle changes. By adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activities, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and staying vigilant with regular screening, you can significantly lower your risk of developing this type of cancer.
Remember, prevention is key. And small changes in your daily routine can lead to significant long-term benefits for your overall health and well-being.
Take charge of your health today and protect yourself against bowel cancer.