How can I keep my colon healthy?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Here are ways to keep your colon healthy:

  • Eliminate red and processed meats or become a vegetarian
  • Eat 9 fistfuls of fruits and vegetables a day and include blueberries, which may contain a colon protective chemical
  • Eat a diet rich in whole grains and high in fiber
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol
  • Take a daily aspirin (review with physician first)
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes on most days
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Take vitamin D and folic acid
  • Maintain healthy cholesterol profile
  • Eat probiotics—yogurt miso and other fermented soy products—foods that contain live bacterial cultures that protect the gut flora

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Dr. Troy D. Schmidt, MD
Having a healthy colon helps prevent colon cancer, decreases risk of IBS symptoms, constipation, and diarrhea, reduces gas, reduces the risk of developing hemorrhoids, and allows more efficient absorption of water and minerals. Moving waste material through the digestive tract on a regular basis is one way to keep the colon healthy. This helps prevent constipation and the formation of hemorrhoids. Don't suppress the urge to produce a bowel movement, this leads to constipation. Ensure adequate intake of water and foods that are water rich. Eat plenty of fiber regularly- this helps bulk up the stool and makes it easier to pass. Ensure adequate intake of vitamin D- this helps prevent many cancers, including colorectal cancer. Ensure adequate intake of vitamin A- this helps release mucous and lubricates the stools to help them pass through the colon. Ensure the adequate intake of healthy fats- this supports the nervous system which is used in peristalsis to help stool pass. Maintain the good bacteria in the intestinal tract by taking a probiotic. Good bacteria aid in digestion and helps remove the bad bacteria.
There are several things you can do to keep your colon healthy. Diet and exercise, drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water and not smoking can help you keep a healthy colon. Diet should include whole grains and five portions or fruit and vegetables a day. If you are experiencing blood or mucus in the stools or have recent weight loss, see your physician in case there is something upsetting your colon; for example, it might be an infection or something in your diet that is making your colon "unhappy." If you have to take a course of antibiotics, it may be wise to take a probiotic, such as Culturelle, if you are an adult to help keep the healthy bacteria in your colon.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.