Be bowel healthy
April is bowel cancer awareness month and with it now being the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK, here we outline some small changes that will help your digestive system to work well, and help reduce your risk of developing the disease*
Eat a balanced diet
As a general rule, an average meal should be made up of one-third carbohydrates and one-third fruit and vegetables, with the remaining one-third split between dairy, protein and a little bit of fat.
Start the day with a high-fibre meal
Fibre is an important part of a healthy diet. It keeps everything moving through your digestive system. Porridge and wholegrain cereals are good examples. Choose wholegrain or brown bread for sandwiches and toast. Choose brown rice or brown pasta over white. Don’t forget fruit and vegetables are a great source of fibre too.
Be aware of portion sizes
Don’t overload your plate. If you are still hungry, why not have some fruit after your meal. Be wary of ‘large’ or ‘value-sized’ offers, often they give you more food than you need.
Avoid processed meats as much as possible
These are meats that have been preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. This includes: bacon, ham, salami, sausages and burgers. These should be an occasional treat rather than every day! And limit your red meat intake. Have no more than 500g (cooked weight) per week. This includes: beef, pork, lamb and goat. Try having chicken, fish or a vegetarian option instead.
Keep hydrated by drinking water throughout the day
If you don’t like water try herbal teas or fruit juices.
Choose fruit and vegetables as snacks
Aim for two to three per day. Carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, a handful of grapes or fruit skewers (great for kids!) are tasty and should stop you reaching for the biscuit jar.
Limit your alcohol intake
Have alcohol free days every week and make sure you have no more than: two to three units a day for women or three to four units a day for men.
Exercise helps you to maintain a healthy body weight and makes you feel good. Ideally, try to do 30 minutes exercise at least five times a week. Try starting with 10 minutes and enjoy doing more and more. Exercise doesn’t have to be about working out in a gym, a brisk walk or bike ride is just as good.
For more information see bowelcanceruk.org.uk
* This advice is intended for people who do not currently suffer from any bowel conditions. Before making any drastic changes to your lifestyle or diet you should always speak to your doctor.
Click here for the latest health update on bowel cancer.