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What's a Polyp?
Polyps can form on the epithelial lining of the large intestine, as well as the bladder, cervix and even the skin. They are benign growths of varying size and usually come with no symptoms; if they are very large they may cause bleeding. Colon polyps can however lead to colon cancer if left alone for a long period of time (not all polyps become cancerous). They can be discovered through a routine exam and removed by your doctor. As colon polyps are more common with people over fifty, routine colon cancer testing is recommended once you hit middle age.
What causes colon polyps? In most cases it is unknown exactly what causes polyps although people with a family history of polyps and/or colon cancer are more likely to have this health problem. It is possible that years of living off of a poor diet, having poor digestion and internal toxicity or infection may be contributing factors. The National Institutes of Health recommends eating a low-fat, high fiber diet, avoiding smoke and excess alcohol and maintaining a normal body weight for reducing the risk of polyp formation along the intestines. Consider these in-depth tips for preventing colon polyps through focusing on a cleansing diet, reducing toxin exposure and maintaining well-being.
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Diet Is Essential for Prevention
According to naturopathic doctor and natural medicine writer Dr. Linda Page, polyps and other benign growths are often the result of excessive growth of fat cells. They can be caused by a diet of too many acidic and mucus forming foods as well as poor fat assimilation. Eating a diet rich in fiber and nutrients and low in fat and toxins will provide fiber to cleanse the body of toxins and maintain healthy digestion, and the vitamins, minerals and other natural compounds that are necessary to keep the body functioning properly and in an optimal state of balance.
What is a healthy diet for the prevention of colon polyps? Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, sea greens and seeds. Excellent foods to focus on include:
- Brown rice
- Sweet potatoes
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Avoid excess animal fats. This means cutting down on your beef, pork, cheese, and high-fat milk or cream consumption. Processed products and caffeine are not doing your digestive system any good either. Go for natural and organic over processed, refined and non-organic whenever possible.
Also, make drinking clean water a priority. Drink eight glasses a day to flush out toxins and to help with high fiber consumption. Other beneficial beverages include green tea, herbal teas and fresh juices such as carrot, apple and papaya.
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Consider Supplemental Fiber
To help keep your colon clean and polyp free you may want to talk to your doctor about supplementing with a natural source of fiber. This could be as simple as making sure you are eating a daily serving of beans or barley. You can also safely supplement with psyllium husks, rice bran or oat bran. As too much fiber can deplete the body of nutrients, talk to your doctor first to see what is right for you. Also, do not take fiber when taking other nutritional supplements as they may not have the chance to be absorbed.
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Drinking lots of water and consuming plenty of fiber is a great way to keep the digestive tract cleansed and to remove excess toxins from the body before they have the chance to accumulate. While cleansing is important avoiding substances that contribute toxins to the body and tax the organs of elimination is also important. This means tobacco smoke and alcohol.
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To help reduce your risk of developing colon polyps and colon cancer make sure you are getting regular exercise. This will help you to maintain a healthy body weight and to improve circulation and the processes of elimination. Make physical activity something enjoyable so you are likely to follow through with it, such as a refreshing 20 or 30 minutes walk, a relaxing swim in the pool or a bike ride four to five days a week.
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See Your Doctor
Through a healthy diet and lifestyle, preventing colon polyps is very doable. Regardless, it is important to see your doctor for regular exams, especially once you reach fifty years of age. Colon polyps can be easily removed with a relatively minor procedure. Once they are removed keep up your healthy habits to prevent the formation of new growths!
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Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Nutritional Healing.Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
Page, Linda. "Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition" (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
Medicine Plus, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000266.htm
photo by Rick Heath
photo by Mary Thompson