The month of April is both Bowel Cancer and IBS Awareness Month. Despite being two very different conditions, IBS and Bowel Cancer both affect the same part of the body. The risks and symptoms of both illnesses can be reduced by increasing your intake of some of the best foods for bowel health.
The general term bowel cancer is used to describe any type of cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on which part of the organ the cancer begins, it is sometimes referred to as colon or rectal cancer and is most common in the over-60s.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome- or IBS- is an uncomfortable and unpredictable chronic condition which affects between 10% and 20% of people in the UK. This disorder is extremely disruptive to the daily lives of sufferers and is often difficult for people to talk about.
There is currently no cure but this IBS Awareness Month, make sure you become aware of the ways you or your loved ones can manage IBS better and find out what small lifestyle changes can make a big difference.
Taking Care of Your Bowel Health
Whether or not you suffer from either of the diseases being talked about this April, bowel health is an essential part of our overall well-being. One of the most effective changes you can make is to improve your diet and nutrition. To help you put this into practice, here are seven of the best foods for bowel health…
Adding more fibrous whole grains to your diet can improve gut health, helping to ensure that your bowel movements are more regular. According to some studies– they can also cut down your chances of contracting bowel cancer too. One of the easiest and tastiest ways to boost the amount of wholegrain in your diet is to eat more wholemeal bread. From a slice of multiseed toast for breakfast, wholemeal pita for lunch or a piece of brown chapatti bread with your evening meal, there are plenty of healthy wholemeal alternatives.
Our guts are filled with trillions of bacteria and yeasts which keep bowels active and healthy. One beneficial way to aid the digestion process and promote bowel health is to eat probiotic yoghurts. Not all yoghurts work with the ‘friendly bacteria’ in the intestines, so it is a good idea to opt for a yoghurt with ‘live and active cultures’ on the label. Some studies have shown that these probiotic snacks are a mild, natural way to soothe the symptoms of IBS.
Another highly effective way to get more fibre and whole grain into your digestive system is to eat more brown rice. There are many different health benefits to this natural and tasty grain, including its ability to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. The high amount of fibre in brown rice is a sure-fire way to maintain healthy, regular bowels and ease common bowel problems such as constipation and diarrhoea. This type of fibre can also keep cancer-causing chemicals away from the lining of the colon, thus preventing the risk of colon and rectal cancers.
Lean Meat and Fish
One of the worst things to eat if you’re trying to improve your bowel health is fatty, greasy meat such as burgers, corned beef and fried bacon. Our bodies find these foods difficult to digest, so eating large amounts can lead to heartburn and bowel problems. As an alternative, try to increase your intake of lean meat, fish and meat substitutes. Grill rather than fry your meats and make as many smart choices as possible, like swapping out the unhealthy, fatty foods listed above for chicken, turkey, fish or Quorn meat-free options.
We all know how good for us vegetables are, but were you aware of just how beneficial greens are for your bowel health? Just one cup of cooked spinach is packed with four grams of fibre and magnesium. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for a healthy bowel. Green beans also provide four grams of fibre in a one cup serving. These are just a few of the many types of greens that provide a high amount of fibre and magnesium. Make the effort to regularly fill your dinner plate with tasty fresh greens and you’ll soon see a positive difference.
Just like vegetables, everyone knows the importance of regularly eating fresh fruit. More specifically though, citrus fruits are some of the best foods for bowel health. One large orange has four grams of fibre, while other citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, satsumas and pomelos, contain Naringenin. Studies have shown that Naringenin works as a natural cure for constipation and other uncomfortable bowel complaints.
Last in the list, all different types of beans are rich in a fibre-like starch which is one of the most effective ways to maintain the balance in stomach bacteria and keep bowels operating as they should. Up your intake of beans by adding legumes such as kidney beans, black eyed peas and lentils to your diet.
Maintaining Good Bowel Health
These are seven of the best foods you can incorporate into your diet to boost bowel health. Of course, your diet isn’t the only way to make this change. For further advice, see these top seven tips on maintaining a healthy bowel. If you are between the ages of 60 and 74, you will automatically be invited twice a year to pay a visit to The Berkshire Bowel Cancer Screening Centre. Getting screened and catching it early is the most effective way to beat bowel cancer, so make sure you take up this invitation when it comes your way.