If you have had colorectal cancer, maintaining a healthy colon is a priority. Maintaining a healthy colon is important to overall health, and even more important if you've been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. It’s never too late to make better choices about diet and exercise, and the benefits will extend far beyond your intestines.
Health professionals recommend starting with something that is especially worrisome to you, whether that’s getting your weight under control, quitting smoking or getting more exercise. The reasoning is simple: your biggest concerns often cause you more stress which also impacts your health. Besides, the pride you will feel in making one healthy change will spur you on to make more.
Focus on these three essentials to maintain a healthy colon:
1. Eating healthy
The first step to healthy eating is healthy shopping. Stock your kitchen with a variety of foods that you can throw together for healthy meals in a hurry. Eat vegetables, beans, whole fruit and other low-calorie foods instead of high-calorie choices such as french fries, chips, ice cream, donuts, and other sweets. When you eat away from home, choose foods that are low in calories, fat and sugar, and avoid eating large portions.
Perhaps most important, emphasize whole grains over refined grains in your diet. A whole grain is made up of three parts: the bran, endosperm and germ. Refined grains are made from the endosperm. Because the bran and germ contain much of the vitamins, minerals and all of the fiber found in grains, whole grains have more fiber and nutrients than refined (or processed) grains. Try to have at least three servings of whole-grain foods each day
2. Building strength and stamina and reducing stress
Because every individual is different, you should talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen.
If you have been treated for colorectal (or any) cancer, you may feel ongoing fatigue that makes it difficult to get excited about exercising. So start with something easily manageable, such as a short walk. Starting slowly is also good advice for anyone who hasn’t been exercising on a regular basis.
If you need additional encouragement, find someone to walk with you – a friend, neighbor or family member. They’ll be there to get you moving on those days you don’t really feel like it, and you will be able to do the same for them. Having someone to talk to while you’re exercising can be more fun and make the time go faster, too.
Getting regular exercise benefits your body physically by strengthening your muscles, joints and bones. It can reduce your risk of some types of cancer. And it gives you a big emotional boost, too. When you exercise, you are doing all these good things for yourself:
- Improving your cardiovascular fitness – both your heart and your circulation.
- Losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight.
- Reducing fatigue (yes, exercise actually replaces that tired feeling with greater energy).
- Reducing stress or depression.
- Greater happiness and self-esteem.
3. Losing bad habits
Smoking and consuming too much alcohol can damage your health in numerous ways. It’s not easy to kick these habits, but the benefits of doing so start to appear right away. Smoking cessation programs have helped many people, so if you need help, talk to your health care provider or contact the American Cancer Society to learn more about coaching and support programs.
Ridgeview Medical Center is an independent, nonprofit, regional health care system located just 35 minutes west of Minneapolis on Highway 5. Its network includes two hospitals—located in Waconia and Arlington—a multitude of primary and specialty care clinics, emergency services and specialty programs, and Two Twelve Medical Center in Chaska—a free-standing 24/7 emergency and urgent care facility with multi-specialty clinics and services.