7 Best Colon Healthy Foods, Says Science
Your colon is way more important for your overall health than you may think. Not only is it responsible for eliminating waste and toxins, but it’s also home to trillions of beneficial bacteria that help you digest food, produce essential vitamins and nutrients, and support your immune system. Hence why adding these best colon foods to your meals is vital for your overall health.
Unfortunately, the modern Western diet doesn’t always promote colon health.
“Most Americans are not eating the recommended amount of fiber every day, which over time, can have negative effects on many aspects of our health, including our colon health,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN. “Eating large quantities of processed meats may have the opposite effect and increase a person’s risk of experiencing some unsavory health effects, including colon cancer.”
Thankfully, bumping up your intake of these colon-healthy foods, along with staying active and well-hydrated, can help lower your risk. Based on the latest research and a few recommendations from Manaker herself, here are some of the best colon foods to be eating on a regular basis.
1. Whole grains
Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and millet are excellent sources of insoluble fiber, a type of carbohydrate that helps food pass through the colon more quickly (aka, prevents constipation). Eating whole grains regularly may also reduce the risk of colon cancer, according to a 2020 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Beans are another great source of fiber as well as resistant starch. Unlike normal starch, resistant starch doesn’t break down in the colon, but actually sits there and ferments, producing tons of healthy bacteria as a result. Manaker suggests adding beans to soups, salads, and even smoothie recipes—or try one of these tasty black bean recipes.
3. Leafy greens
As if you don’t have enough reasons to eat your leafy greens! Not only are they packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, but leafy greens also contain a unique sugar molecule known as sulfoquivonose, which has been shown in some studies to both feed healthy bacteria and keep bad bacteria at bay.
4. Flax seeds
Rich in vitamins, minerals, and both soluble and insoluble fiber, this tiny seed is your colon’s best friend.
“Just remember that flax seeds need to be ground in order for the body to be able to utilize the nutrients found in these seeds,” says Manaker.
But like all high-fiber foods, make sure to eat them with plenty of liquids to avoid gas and bloating. Adding ground flax seeds to smoothies or yogurt bowls is a great way to prevent this possible effect.
Fruits in general are great for colon health, but berries may have some additional benefits. They’re relatively lower in sugar, higher in fiber, and incredibly rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols help promote the growth of healthy bacteria and may also protect against many types of cancers, including colon cancer, by reducing oxidative damage to DNA.
Yogurt and other fermented dairy products are excellent sources of probiotics, specifically lactic acid bacteria. This type of bacteria is linked with numerous health benefits, including boosting the immune system, helping with nutrient absorption, and protecting the colon from harmful pathogens.
“Just be sure to pick a yogurt that is low in added sugars when you are focusing on your colon health,” says Manaker. “If you need some sweetness when you enjoy your yogurt, try adding berries or other fruit into the mix.”
Sauerkraut is also rich in colon-healthy lactic acid bacteria, and it’s a great option for those that don’t do well with dairy. With a strong, salty flavor, Manaker suggests adding it to egg dishes, sandwiches, and other meals that need a colon health-supporting boost.
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