Food matters for colon health

Everything you eat eventually passes through your colon. And eating colon-healthy foods keeps your digestive system moving and prevents abdominal discomfort like constipation, diarrhea and bloating.

Your food choices can help you get relief from constipation and protect you from diseases like colorectal cancer and other conditions that affect the colon and rectum.

What to look for in colon-healthy foods, pay attention to the nutrient density and fiber content.

Nutrient density
Nutrient-dense foods provide a ton of value to our bodies in a relatively low number of calories. These types of foods provide many of the vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats your body needs – and with little to no added sugar, saturated fat and salt. Therefore, try to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Balance these with nutrient-dense foods from other food groups.

Dietary fiber
Fiber pushes your food to the finish line, acting as a cleansing agent to remove waste and toxins that are left behind during the digestive process. There are two types of fiber you need in your diet.

Soluble fiber — This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance, making you feel full longer because it takes more energy for your body to digest. Examples of foods rich in soluble fiber are oats, barley, flax seed, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, pears, figs and some berries.

Insoluble fiber — This type of fiber doesn’t dissolve in water but instead travels through the digestive system mostly intact, adding bulk to your stool to prevent constipation and irregularity. Examples of foods rich in insoluble fiber are whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and raw vegetables.

When eating high-fiber foods, ensure that you eat smaller portions, in order to avoid intestinal gas or cramping. Eat fiber in moderation, be sure to drink lots of water and get some exercise.