To keep your intestine healthy and to avoid bowel cancer, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) have provided the following recommendations. These are two organizations that keep a close eye on the scientific research.
Eat mostly (or all) plant foods: As it passes through our intestines, fibre acts as a roto-rooter, carrying out waste and toxic substances. Fibre is absent from meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy; it is found only in plant foods. The WCRF recommends basing all of our meals on plant foods, the less refined the better. To start, rank these breakfast options in terms of good health: a) A muffin and orange juice. b) A bowl of porridge or whole grain cereal with fresh or dried fruit. c) Fried eggs, bacon and sausages.
Choices a) and b) are plant-based, but option b) offers more health protection because the grains and fruit are less processed and provide more fibre. The diverse mix of fibre from assorted plant foods – fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, vegetables – is far superior to a fibre supplement and protects us in a wide variety of ways.
Vegetables and fruits reduce the risk of other cancers including cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, stomach and lung. Every day, our bodies could potentially develop cancer. The wealth of protective phytochemicals – found only in plant foods –and antioxidants can vanquish free radicals and keep dangerous substances in check. And the abundance of vitamins and minerals in plant foods strengthens our immune system.
Avoid red meat and processed meat: The WCRF and AICR have confirmed the findings from 1,016 studies focusing on meat. The studies found that red meat (beef, lamb, pork, goat) and processed meat (bacon, ham, corned beef, ham, pastrami, salami, hot dogs, and sausages preserved by smoking, curing or salting or added preservatives) increase the risk of bowel cancer.
Take part in regular physical activity: Being active for at least 30 minutes every day reduces your risk of bowel, breast and endometrial cancer. Aerobic activity is great and outdoor sports have the added benefit of increasing your vitamin D levels. Find something you enjoy so you’ll do it often. Link up with a walking buddy, throw a Frisbee with the grandkids or dance in the living room to your favourite music. Many people credit their dog with inspiring them to keep fit.
Keep your weight within the optimal range: Excess body fat, especially around the waist, remains a convincing cause of bowel cancer.
Avoid alcohol: Alcohol enables DNA damage. Each drink increases your risk of bowel cancer and of breast cancer.
The WCRF hopes to raise people’s awareness that bowel cancer is largely preventable and that, through lifestyle choices, people can reduce their chances of developing it and other forms of cancer.
Vesanto Melina is a dietitian and co-author of nutrition classics Becoming Vegan: Express Edition, Cooking Vegan, Becoming Vegetarian, Becoming Vegan, Becoming Raw, Raising Vegetarian Children, the Food Allergy Survival Guide and the Raw Food Revolution Diet. For personal consultations, phone 604-882-6782 or visitwww.nutrispeak.com
Good for you, good for the planet
Legumes (beans, peas, lentils, and soyfoods) are outstanding sources of protein and the amino acid lysine. They contain fibre, which meat does not, and in many cases Patricularly in the case of black beans, black turtel beans, and white beans, they provide calcium as well. From an environmental standpoint, they are far preferable to animal flesh. Animals must consume six times the protein from soy, other beans and grain, compared with the amount of meat protein we get when we eat them. In otherwords, there is a net yield of 16 percent of the protein harvested if we eat meat.