Understanding the impact of eating a balanced diet You are what you eat!

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We all know that eating a balanced diet is important to our health for many reasons, but after the hot dogs and apple pie during your 4th of July celebrations, we might not understand the impact these foods can have on digestive health and the harmful consequences. Tobacco use, sedentary lifestyle and high fat, low fiber diets are risk factors for developing health issues with your colon, including increased risks of developing colon cancer.

So why is diet such an important factor to consider when examining the ways in which you can reduce your risk for digestive issues and colon cancer? Though you can’t change certain colorectal cancer risk factors, such as genetics or past medical history, you are able to better manage and control your diet. Small, simple changes such as limiting the intake of red and processed meats and increasing your consumption of whole grains as well as fresh produce will not only help keep your digestive system healthy, it will also help reduce weight that can contribute to increased health risks including colon cancer.

Studies have shown that diets that are high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains, may lower colorectal cancer risk further. Not to mention, the additional health benefits from foods that are high in vitamins and minerals.

Other healthy ways to improve your overall digestive health include:

Increasing your physical activity

Limiting your intake of red and processed meats (such as deli meat)

Eating more vegetables and fruits

Opting for whole grains and high fiber alternatives whenever possible

Avoiding excessive intake of alcohol

The first place to start talking about digestive health is with your primary-care physician. They will best help explain any additional risk factors that your medical or family history may play in digestive health.

Most screening entities recommend that you receive a colonoscopy beginning at age 50 and every ten years following. The common examination checks the intestine for abnormal polyps or tissue as well as addressing any abdominal pain that may be causing you discomfort.

Although examinations are recommended beginning at age 50, if you have a family history it is recommended that you get screened prior to 50 based on your physician’s recommendation. To schedule an appointment with a Mercy Health primary-care physician, call 855-883-7150 or visit www.mercy.com for more information on digestive health and expert physicians that are close to your home!

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