Guest contributor: Teresa Mitchell-Paterson, Bowel Care Nutritionist at Bowel Cancer Australia
As a nutritionist who has been personally affected by bowel cancer, I know how important diet and lifestyle can be to disease prevention, progression and recurrence.
Australians consume an estimated average of 565 grams of red meat per week.
Daily consumption of more than 100 grams of red meat raises the risk of bowel cancer by 17% and for every 50 grams of processed meat eaten daily, bowel cancer risk increases by 18%.
So, when it comes to eating meat and our health, the average person is eating too much.
Less really is more.
We can’t change some bowel cancer risk factors such as genetic makeup, family history or increasing age, but we can make simple diet and lifestyle changes starting today for a better tomorrow.
+ EAT MORE VEGETABLES AND FRUIT - research has shown that the majority of adults are not eating enough fruit and vegetables in order to meet National Dietary Guidelines.
Enjoy a wide range of brightly coloured vegetables particularly the green (such as broccoli, spinach and kale), orange and red (such as sweet potato, pumpkin, tomato, beetroot and red capsicum) coupled with legumes, lentils and beans, for healthy fibre.
Include high fibre whole grains in cereals, breads and pastas.
Only one-third (34%) of all grain (cereal) foods consumed by Australians are wholegrain or high-fibre products.
+ EAT A WIDE RANGE OF nutritious foods from the five food groups every day, fruit and vegetables, good fats, protein (meat or vegetarian/vegan options), fruit, grains and dairy or calcium foods.
Consume adequate amounts of calcium through fortified calcium foods or dairy.
Nuts and seeds contain good fats and have other health benefits, include small amounts of these in your diet. Look for vegetable fats to cook with and enjoy raw uncooked vegetable oils on your food.
If you are eating meat ensure it is lean or try to include vegetarian options such as tofu, tempeh and beans. Australian men would benefit from consuming less red meat.
Water is the best thirst quencher and has no calories, with less potential health detriments than soft and alcoholic drinks.
+ EAT LESS of the ‘sometimes’ foods.
These foods can be eaten but only rarely and in small quantities, meat pies, pastries, hot chips, potato crisps, savoury snacks, deli meats, sweet cakes, muesli bars and biscuits, lollies, jam, honey and chocolate, ice-cream and desert, creams and high fat spreads, soft drinks, alcohol.
+ WEIGHT MATTERS achieve a healthy weight range
Nearly 2 in 3 Australian adults (63%) are overweight or obese.
Find out what your BMI range is and cut down ‘sometimes’ foods. If necessary, seek help to achieve your ideal weight for height. Or measure your waist circumference; men should have a waist measurement of less than 94cms and women 80cms.
+ GET MOVING be physically active
Among 18-24-year-olds, 45% of men and 51% of women are insufficiently active; for those aged 55-64, 54% of men and 60% of women are insufficiently active.
To achieve health, adults need to complete 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most if not all days of the week. You may need to do more if your goal is weight loss. Moderate activities are those that require some effort, but where you can still just about talk, such as brisk walking, swimming or tennis.
When it comes to bowel cancer there are no guarantees, but there are choices you can make and steps you can take to reduce your risk.
Diet and lifestyle choices, as well as screening and surveillance, can influence your bowel cancer risk.
Because these are things you can change (modify), they are referred to as 'modifiable' risk factors.
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