Updated: Jan 29
Spring is here and it’s time to clean, sweep and cleanse. April is traditionally a time to clean, whether it is your attic, the pantry or your body. April is also Colon Cancer awareness month and we can aid prevention by cleansing the colon just like the rest of the house. As the third most common cancer, 5% of Americans are estimated to get colon cancer in their lifetime. Prevention starts with a high fiber diet.
Think of fiber as a broom, sweeping the excess toxins neatly out of the way for a healthy, clean body and colon. You have control over how much fiber you consume and how well you clean your colon. The colon is the last trek in the food processing system: after food has been broken down in the stomach and small intestine, it goes into the colon where excess water and vitamins are absorbed and stool is formed. Fiber comes from plant cell walls and is eaten, but not absorbed by the body. High fiber foods help fill the stomach and slow down the absorption of nutrients. This leaves you feeling more satisfied for longer.
There are two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble. Both are found in plant foods and we need both in our diet. Soluble fiber forms a thick gel inside your body, adding bulk to stools and sweeping out the colon like a broom. Psyllium husks and flax seeds, both contain soluble fiber, which you can observe as they thicken in a glass of water. Insoluble fiber is not soluble in water and an example would be wheat bran. Rough and indigestible, wheat bran sweeps through the colon like a scrub brush, cleaning things out of nooks and crannies to remove them. Most plant foods contain a combination of both soluble and insoluble fibers.
So how do you get fiber into your body? Always choose whole foods and increase beans, fruits, vegetables, flax seeds and oats. For whole foods choose whole wheat rather than white, brown rice rather than white, potato with the skin and an apple, not apple juice. Fiber is usually brown and removed in processing, so choose brown foods that are closer to their natural form. 1 slice of 100% whole wheat bread contains 5 grams of fiber while white bread contains only 1 gram of fiber. Apple juice contains no fiber while an apple with the skin on has 3 grams of fiber.
Some people experience bloating and gas from adding extra fiber. In most cases this is temporary and caused by fiber moving bad stuff out of the colon. Increase fiber slowly and drink extra water to minimize discomfort. If the discomfort continues and is severe you may be sensitive to a certain food or you may need extra digestive support. The average adult should consume 20-30 grams of fiber per day.
Colon cancer prevention starts with keeping a clean, healthy colon by sweeping it often with soluble and insoluble fiber. Increase whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables with the recipe’s below and enjoy delicious and nutritious high fiber foods. You may be surprised at how good you feel just by spring cleaning your colon.
This information is provided to help you increase fiber for general colon health. For specific recommendations on your own health call 707-937-0476. Nutrition information is not a replacement for medical care.
Morning shake – 7 grams fiber
3 fresh strawberries
1 fresh pear
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
2 tablespoons whey powder or rice protein
1 ½ cups water 1 ice cube
Blend well and consume before the soluble fiber turns the liquid into gel. Flax seeds contain an equal amount of soluble and insoluble fiber along with Omega 3 fats which help reduce inflammation.
Oatmeal – 6 grams fiber
1/3 cup steel cut oats
1 cup water
1/8 cup raisins
1/8 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon ground flax seeds
Sprinkle of cinnamon
1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
Combine oats and water and simmer for 10 minutes with the top off. Cover and let sit for another 10 minutes. Serve with raisins, walnuts, cinnamon and syrup.
Lentil Lunch – 20 grams of fiber
1 cup lentil soup
1 piece whole wheat bread with butter
Layer with salad greens and balsamic vinegar and enjoy open face
Beans are fiber superstars and lentils are great to start with because they are easier to digest than some larger beans.
Veggies & dip snack – 8 grams fiber
½ cup hummus
1 cup vegetable sticks (green beans, celery, carrots)
Broccoli & Cheese – 5 grams of fiber
1 head broccoli (1 cup)
¼ cup white cheddar cheese, grated
Cut broccoli into small florets and place in a small pan with ¼ inch of water in the bottom. Turn on heat and begin steaming. In about 5 minutes, turn heat off, drain excess water, sprinkle cheese over the broccoli and replace the top for 1 minute to melt cheese. I often serve this as a complete dinner, like mac & cheese with broccoli instead of mac.
Statistics and fiber counts from www.whfoods.org