Diet can be a critical piece in avoiding any number of diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), medical experts often recommend a diet low in animal fats and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to reduce the risk of other chronic diseases, such as coronary artery disease and diabetes. However, this diet also may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. In recognition of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Kootenai Health registered dietician, Megan Rasmussen, shared some nutrition tips for colon health below. Keep scrolling for some delicious recipes as well!
- The more plant-based foods you can eat the better. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds naturally increases your fiber, vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant intake—all crucial components for decreasing cancer risk.
- High red meat consumption (100 grams or more per day) has been linked to increased risk for colon cancer. Aim to decrease your red meat intake to less than 18 ounces per week by swapping it out for chicken, turkey, and fish.
- A diet high in sugar can increase risk for weight gain and obesity, which is correlated with higher risk for colon cancer. Try limiting added sugars to less than 10% of your total daily calories. Strategies to help include swapping soda for sparkling water, trying dark chocolate, or adding in fruit. And remember, the sugar in whole fruits is natural and okay to eat. The sugars you want to watch out for are called ‘Added Sugars.’ This is just extra sugar added to food.
- Eating enough fiber each day is crucial for colon health by preventing constipation and keeping foods moving through the GI tract. Shoot for at least 25-30 grams of fiber per day. You can get fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- Opt for whole grains over refined grains. Refined grains like white bread, white pasta, and white rice have been stripped of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They digest quickly which can spike your blood sugar. And unlike whole grains they do not contain much fiber. Shoot to consume at least half of your daily grains (3-5 servings) from whole grain sources. Examples of whole grains include quinoa, barley, whole wheat flour, wild and brown rice, and oatmeal.
- Physical activity is also super important to maintain good colon health. Not only does regular exercise help you maintain a healthy weight, but it also helps keep the food in your GI tract moving. The CDC recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity and at least 2 days of strength training per week. If you’re not used to exercising, start by finding a fun exercise class or go to the gym with a workout buddy!
- Limit alcohol consumption to no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
Southwestern Tofu Wraps
1 block Firm tofu
1 tsp Canola oil
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Chili powder
½ tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Salt
½ cup Lettuce, chopped
½ cup Red bell pepper, diced
½ cup Tomatoes, diced
½ cup Yellow corn
Sprinkle Mozzarella cheese
Drizzle Favorite southwestern-style dressing (I used cilantro-lime)
Multiple Whole wheat or spinach tortillas
- Preheat oven to 420° F
- Press water out of tofu and dice into bite-sized pieces. Add to bowl with other tofu ingredients and mix.
- Spread tofu over parchment-covered pan and bake for 20 minutes.
- If frozen, boil corn per package instructions
- Once tofu is cooked, mix it with all other ingredients in a bowl.
- Spoon mixture into tortillas, wrap, and enjoy!
Serves 4-5 people w/ 2-3 falafel each
2 cans (15 oz) Chickpeas, low sodium
¼ medium Red onion, roughly chopped
To taste Fresh parsley
To taste Fresh cilantro
2 cloves Garlic
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Ground cumin
1 tsp Baking powder
½ cup Flour
As needed Canola oil
- Rinse and drain chickpeas and add to a food processor with the red onion, parsley, cilantro, garlic, salt, and cumin.
- Process the mixture on low until it has a paste-like consistency. You may occasionally need to stop the machine and use a spatula to scrape the sides.
- Once the mixture is at the desired consistency, move it to a bowl and stir in the baking powder. Then, slowly add in the flour while mixing.
- Once thoroughly mixed, you can place the mixture in the fridge for later or fry the patties immediately.
- When ready to fry, preheat a skillet with ~2 Tbsp of canola oil to medium heat. Once the pan is heated, form small patties (~2 Tbsp or whatever size you want) and drop them into the oil. Cook on each side until golden brown on both sides.
- Once your falafel patties are done cooking, add them to pita shells with veggies (lettuce, spinach, tomato, cucumber, carrot, bell pepper, etc.), tzatziki sauce, hummus, feta cheese, ranch, or whatever other toppings you like, and enjoy!