With colorectal cancer the third most common type of cancer in men and women today, according to the American Cancer Society, this is as good a reason as any to tweak your diet so you consume more foods found in the produce and cereal aisles. The study only showed an association and didn’t point out specific foods that can make a difference, so we went to the experts on the front lines of fighting this cancer. Here’s their take on what to eat to cut your risk.
Order up those salmon rolls: The omega-3 fatty acids in fish such as salmon and tuna lower inflammation in the gut, which is linked to tumor formation, says Mitchell Gaynor, M.D., a New York City oncologist, clinical professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, and author of The Gene Therapy Plan.
Oat or Bran Cereal
Both are super high in dietary fiber, and fiber helps move food through your digestive tract, says Jennifer Fitzgibbon, R.D., an oncology dietician at Stony Brook University Cancer Center in New York. Why’s that important? The longer some of the toxins you might ingest along with your food hang around your GI system, the higher the likelihood that they cause DNA damage, possibly resulting in cancer, says Gaynor.
Besides all of its other awesome health qualities, “olive oil contains an omega-2 fatty acid that’s associated with a lower risk of colon cancer because it reduces inflammation,” says Gaynor.
Black, kidney, pinto—so many types of beans are high in folate, a B vitamin that helps repair abnormal DNA in the GI tract, says Fitzgibbon. They also have fiber, too.
Fruits and Vegetables
You knew these had to make this list, and here’s why. First, the fiber these have helps keep your digestive system moving. But second, foods found in the produce aisle contain a rich assortment of micronutrients that have been linked to lower rates of colorectal cancer, says Gaynor. “Consuming six to eight servings a day of fruits and vegetables can help ensure that you get all of these micronutrients,” he says.
This spice that’s a staple in Indian cooking contains a compound called curcumin, which can protect the GI tract and prevent or slow colorectal cancer growth, says Fitzgibbon.
Here’s a reason to consume more pasta or pizza. Tomatoes have lots of lycopene, which can decrease colon cancer rates, and cooked tomatoes, such as the kind found in tomato sauce, have even more of it, says Gaynor.
And you should steer clear of:
Red meat itself is linked to a higher risk of many cancers. But processed meats usually contain sodium nitrate, a type of preservative that has been correlated to colorectal cancer, says Fitzgibbon. “Avoid nitrates as much as you can,” she suggests.
Sucrose, the sugar found in the white sweet stuff, forces the pancreas to secrete more insulin, which affects levels of a chemical made by the liver that is associated with colorectal cancer, says Gaynor. “Sweeten food with honey or stevia instead,” he says.
8 drinks to help you get better sleep