10 Ways to Keep Your Colon Healthy

Worried about developing colorectal cancer, one of the most common cancers in men and women? The good news is that colorectal cancer is highly treatable when caught early, and in many cases, it is even preventable by establishing key healthy habits.

Take an Active Approach

According to Lisa Haubert, M.D., board-certified colorectal surgeon with Houston Methodist Surgical Associates at Sugar Land, being proactive about your health can go a long way in keeping your colon healthy. She recommends following these 10 habits for a healthier colon:

  1. Boost calcium. Calcium may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Get it from almonds, low-fat milk, dark-green veggies, cottage cheese and yogurt. “Men, however, may want to limit calcium to 1,500 mg a day, as too much calcium may increase the risk of prostate cancer,” Haubert said.
  2. Eat more fruits and veggies, whole grains and brown rice. They’re good sources of fiber, which adds bulk to the waste that moves through your intestines.
  3. Seek a bit of sun. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. It comes mainly from sunlight (10 minutes a day is all you need), but can also be found in salmon, mackerel, fortified milk and eggs.
  4. “B” smart. Folic acid, an essential B vitamin, may reduce your risk of colon cancer. “Lentils, collard greens, chickpeas, asparagus, broccoli, peas, papaya and oranges are all good sources of folic acid,” Haubert said.
  5. Quit smoking. Smoking can cause colorectal cancer, so if you smoke, quit.
  6. Get slim. Obesity raises the risk of colon cancer in both men and women. If you’re overweight, ask your health care provider about a weight loss plan that will work for you.
  7. Cut back on meat. Eating too much red or processed meat has been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. Haubert recommends everything in moderation and choosing chicken and fish as alternatives.
  8. Avoid or limit alcohol. Drinking too much (more than one drink a day for women; two for men) can cause colon problems.
  9. Stay active. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends getting 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity every week. It may reduce your risk of colon cancer.
  10. Get screened. The ACS recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. “A colonoscopy is the gold standard when it comes to colon cancer screening,” said Haubert. “Your doctor looks inside your large intestine using a tiny camera that’s attached to a long, thin tube. Schedule your appointment now — people who get screened regularly greatly reduce their risk of colorectal cancer.”

To make an appointment with Lisa Haubert, MD, or another colorectal surgeon with Houston Methodist Surgical Associates at Sugar Land, visit houstonmethodist.org/spg or call 281.242.3300.