Submitted by Casey Beeghly, Clinical Dietitian, Sentara Leigh Hospital 

I eat healthy by trying to have a balanced diet, focusing on lots of fruits and veggies, freshly prepared meals and limiting processed foods. I do indulge on occasion but in moderation. I am motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle so I set a good example for my family.

Casey Beeghly

Casey Beeghly

In recognition of Colorectal Awareness Month, I ‘d like to share some of my top tips to improve colon health.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

One of the best things a person can do to improve colon health is eat well.

Choose healthy protein sources

  • Choose poultry, fish, eggs, soy products and beans.
  • Limit red meat and processed meats

Choose a Rainbow of Vegetables and Fruits

  • Vegetables and fruits of all colors are loaded with anti-cancer, immune-system-strengthening properties
  • Aim for five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

Increase Your Fiber Intake

  • Slowly increase fiber in your diet with a goal 25-35 grams per day.
  • Choose whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, and brown rice.
  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables; Add beans, peas and lentils to salads and soups.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, goal 8 cups per day. Fluid helps your body process fiber.

Calcium 

  • Calcium intake has been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Good sources include low-fat dairy products or skim milk, dark green vegetables, soy and tofu products, canned salmon and sardines, and fortified foods such as orange juice.
  • Get more calcium by having almonds, cottage cheese, or yogurt as a snack.

Vitamin D

  • Vitamin D aids in the body’s absorption of calcium, and has been shown to play a role in colorectal cancer prevention.
  • Vitamin D is derived mainly from sunlight, but can also be found in cooked salmon/mackerel/sardines, fortified milk, and eggs.

Folic Acid

  • Folic acid (folate) is an essential B vitamin, and may reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Lentils, collard greens, chickpeas, asparagus, broccoli, peas, strawberries, papaya, oranges are good sources.