Why is fiber important for colon health?
You’ve probably heard you need to eat more fiber, but why? How does fiber affect your colon’s health? Family medicine physician Anthony Baglio, DO, explained why eating fiber is an important part of maintaining colon health.
How does fiber help your colon?
Diet is very important to colon health, especially fiber because it influences your gut microbiome.
“Fiber rich foods actually help your good gut bacteria metabolize the fiber to short-chain fatty acids (or butyrate), which can have anti-tumor properties,” Dr. Baglio said. “That’s why we recommend having at least 30 grams of fiber per day – and some experts even ask for 50 grams of fiber – to try to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.”
Foods that are high in fiber include fruits, vegetables and legumes. Examples include:
- Black beans
- Collard greens
Vegetables that are crunchier and darker usually have higher fiber. Other fiber-rich foods include whole grains, such as bran cereal and oatmeal, and nuts.
“You really can’t go wrong with having a plant-based diet. All these foods really help prevent or at least reduce the risk of colorectal cancer,” he said.
Are there foods that can injure your colon?
“Diets that are higher in red meat, processed meat, excess sugar, fats and alcohol, can be more damaging to the DNA, which could potentially cause colorectal cancer,” Dr. Baglio said.
Consuming too much of these foods can lead to inflammation, which can increase the risk of colon cancer as well as many other cancers.
Certain antibiotics that are not used appropriately also have been thought to poorly affect the colon. Greater injury to the colon can lead to colon cancer over time. So, it’s important to eat right, exercise and avoid injury to the colon.
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