Colon Cancer: How Your Diet & Nutrition Plays A Crucial Role

December 3, 2021

Colon Cancer: How Your Diet & Nutrition Plays A Crucial Role

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer type globally and refers to cancer that starts in the large intestine or rectum. Both of these organs belong to the lower portion of your digestive system. They have an integral role in your digestive system by processing waste and eliminating it from your body.

Most colon cancer begins as tiny polyps (non-cancerous growth clusters) on the colon lining that develop into a cancerous growth. While colon cancer can occur in young adults and teenagers, the elderly are generally more susceptible. That said, regular screening for polyps can lead to early detection of colorectal cancer and increase the success rate of full recovery in turn.

The role of your diet in colon cancer

According to research, a poor diet high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables is a significant risk factor for colon cancer. As a result, healthy lifestyle choices, such as regular exercise and a well-balanced diet with the proper nutrition, can help to lower your risk of developing colon cancer.

Without further ado, read on to find out which food to include in your diet and which ones to avoid to maintain a healthy colon and fight malignant cells.

Food and nutrients that help prevent colon cancer

Cruciferous vegetables

Several studies have shown that people with a relatively high intake of fruit and vegetables have a moderately reduced cancer risk compared to those eating very low amounts. Vegetables contain compounds and antioxidants and are one of the best sources of dietary fibre that are beneficial in preventing colon cancer. In particular, cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale, have been known to contain cancer-fighting properties, which minimises the risk of cancer and assists your body in fighting disease.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 helps in the reduction of inflammatory molecules that may promote cancer. As such, a diet rich in omega-3 has been shown to lower the risks of developing colon cancer. Plant oils, such as flaxseed and canola oils, and cold-water fish, such as sardine, mackerel and cod, are among the food types that are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Dietary fibre

Dietary fibre is often associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, as it fuels the colon cells to keep them healthy. According to statistics, your risk of developing colon cancer is reduced by 10% for every ten grams of fibre consumed. Naturally, the more fibre intake you have, the more risk reduction you gain. You can find excellent sources of fibre in cereals or grains, chia seeds, flax seeds, vegetables and wholemeal products.

Food that may increase your risk of colon cancer

Processed and red meat

While it is not necessary to eliminate processed and red meat from your diet, it is crucial to take them in moderation. It is estimated that the risk of developing colon cancer increases by 18% for every 50 grams of processed meat consumed daily.

The World Health Organisation classifies processed meats, such as bacon, frankfurts, ham and salami, as a Group One carcinogen — a substance that promotes the formation of cancer — and red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork, as a Group 2A carcinogen. With the strong evidence of the negative impacts of processed and red meat on your colon health, it is vital to cut back on them as much as possible.

Sweets and added sugars

Easy to reach for yet challenging to put down, sugary cakes, cookies, chips, and drinks can increase your risk of not only colon cancer but cancer development in general, according to research. Furthermore, food with high amounts of sugars provides minimal nutritional benefit and takes the place of other food from which you can benefit.

To prevent colon cancer, replace sugary beverages with water or other low-calorie, low-sugar alternatives.

Processed grains

As with processed meats, processed grains also increase your risk of developing colon cancer. Refined grains in white flour products, such as white bread, can raise blood sugar levels, leading to insulin resistance and an increased risk of colon cancer. While white flour foods are a leading source of fibre in most people’s diets, they do not have as much beneficial fibre as whole-grain products due to how processed they are.

As such, be it your bread, pasta or oats, it is crucial to opt for whole-grain options to reduce your colon cancer risk.


Cancer can often come without signs or warnings, so it is vital to take preventive measures to reduce the risks and improve and maintain your overall health. Take proactive steps and prevent colon cancer early on by leading an active lifestyle, eating the right food with the necessary nutrients to fuel your body and cutting out alcohol and smoking. Moreover, it is crucial to get your routine colonoscopy for symptoms and regular preventive screening. Prevention is the best cure, after all.