As the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, colorectal cancer deserves its place on the “avoid at all costs” list. The good news: colorectal cancer also ranks among the most preventable diseases. Andrew Woodward, MS, RD, CSO, registered dietitian at Loma Linda University Cancer Center, agrees that many are looking for the “quick fix” to cancer prevention — a single food or activity that wards off cancer, but Woodward says a multi- modal approach offers the best chance of success.
“The more pieces of the puzzle you have, the more you’ll be able to put together a better picture of understanding, and therefore have a real impact on your colorectal health,” says Woodward.
Colorectal cancer, also called colon or rectal cancer, takes its name from its initial location: the colon or the rectum, respectively. Most of these cancers start as a growth, called a polyp, whose cells grow out of control on the inside lining of the large intestine.
Woodward says the best approach to cancer is prevention. Along with prompt screening, he recommends jointly adopting a plant-based menu, establishing an emotional support system, and maintaining an active lifestyle to help both prevent colorectal cancer and achieve better outcomes. in the event of cancer.
Plants have varied value in the cancer prevention shopping basket. Packed with fiber and phytonutrients (plant nutrients) that reduce inflammation, plant foods can help fight cancer.
Valuable studies show a significantly reduced risk of colorectal cancer for those who follow a plant-based diet. This evidence reinforces the trend that making plant foods the main course instead of animal foods increases survival and prevention of cancer relapses. Woodward says these compelling associations make a strong case for a plant-based diet. In addition, switching to this diet has no harmful side effects and minimal cost.
“I’ve seen patients embark on healthy eating and have much better results with their treatment when they’re empowered, inspired, and on a plant-based diet,” says Woodward.
Woodward recommends eating a diet full of legumes, nuts, seeds, cruciferous vegetables, seasonal fruits, and healthy oils. Many of these foods replace harmful foods in a diet. For example, since meat contains no fiber and often causes constipation – a risk for colorectal cancer – Woodward advises eating half a cup of cooked beans 3-5 times a week, seasoned well with spices like onion. , garlic, basil, oregano or Indian saffron. Additionally, replacing processed and refined grains, such as white rice, with whole grains, such as brown rice, provides a handy option to combat cancer risk. Ultimately, Woodward says to eat plants any way you can.
“Enjoy the flavors and textures of different plant food preparations,” says Woodward. “Try the salads, smoothies and roasted vegetables. Find new ways to prepare familiar vegetables.
Delicious and satisfying vegetarian recipes populate the internet.
A positive and supportive support system can dramatically improve outcomes and quality of life for any cancer prognosis and certainly keep risk factors at bay.
Relatives can influence the very important screening. They can support an active lifestyle and encourage their family to eat healthily to mitigate risk. Woodward encourages her patients to seek the support of family members and friends to create and maintain healthy daily habits.
In addition, this support group offers emotional support in the event of the onset of cancer. Professional counseling also helps a patient overcome uncomfortable feelings. This support inspires cancer fighters.
“I am impressed with some of my patients who have stage four colon cancer. They live their lives with a positive attitude and good support,” says Woodward. “They no longer want to live.”
An active lifestyle doesn’t mean hitting the gym every day in the wee hours of the morning – rather, it means moving intentionally in a way that increases your heart rate.
“Live an involved lifestyle,” says Woodward. “Walking around a grocery store might not do it, but any activity that feels like you’re pushing yourself a little qualifies, like a brisk walk around the neighborhood to get your steps in.”
Experts say three hours of exercise a week prevents up to 60% of colon cancer recurrences. Woodward recommends breaking these hours up into small, regular portions. This constant activity helps with intestinal motility, strengthens the immune system and ultimately supports colon cells to ward off cancer invasion.
“Some of my patients live much longer than expected, despite a dire prognosis,” says Woodward. “I think a lot of that is down to their very active lifestyles.”
Woodward says the more time a person invests in their health — eating well, reading food labels, being active, engaging in positive support — the more puzzle pieces they can pull off to prevent colon cancer in the first place. and have a better outcome if they have colon cancer.
Talk to your primary care provider about your risk factors for colorectal cancer and your screening options. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with colorectal cancer, you can trust the experts at Loma Linda University Cancer Center to provide the personalized care you need. To learn more, visit the program’s webpage or call 800-782-2623.