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Bowel Cancer: What does diet have to do with it?

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Bowel Cancer: What does diet have to do with it?

In Australia, 1 in 15 people will develop bowel cancer. Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in Australia, with the prevalence increasing among young adults. A person’s risk of developing bowel cancer is influenced by their family history, genetics and lifestyle factors. Lifestyle factors, including the types of foods you eat, whether you smoke and how physically active you are, contribute to your risk of developing bowel cancer. Additionally, when a person’s weight is above the healthy weight range, especially when a lot of fat is stored around the waist, the risk of developing bowel cancer increases. Making a few changes to your lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of bowel cancer.

The World Cancer Research Fund International Continuous Update Project looked at the types of foods that increase the risk of developing bowel cancer. They found foods associated with an increased risk include processed meats, alcohol and too much red meat. Foods associated with decreased risk include wholegrains, dairy products (such as milk, but not cheese), fish and vegetables. Australian guidelines recommend that people reduce their intake of red meat, processed meats and alcohol, whilst ensuring that they are getting enough fibre, from wholegrains, fruits and vegetables, to reduce their bowel cancer risk.

Other studies have looked at eating patterns associated with reduced risk of bowel cancer, and found that a Mediterranean diet, which includes high amounts of wholegrains, vegetables, legumes and healthy fats from olive oil and oily fish, can reduce a person’s risk of bowel cancer. Polyphenols found in many fruits, vegetables and olive oil are thought to have a role to play, though further research is needed to understand how.

What to eat to reduce your risk of bowel cancer:

  • Include high fibre foods at most, if not all meals. High fibre foods include wholemeal or wholegrain breads, pastas and rice, legumes, fruits and vegetables. For example, ½ cup of chickpeas contains around 6g of fibre, almost a quarter of the recommended 25g of fibre for a woman per day. The recommended amount of fibre for men is 30g per day
  • Choose lean protein sources, including chicken, tofu, fish, eggs and legumes
  • Include low fat dairy products each day
  • Limit red meat to 1-2 serves/ week (1 serve is roughly 100g raw meat)
  • Limit processed meats, such as sausages, ham, salami and bacon, and choose less processed meat products or alternatives
  • Maintain a healthy weight by eating enough food to meet your daily energy requirements, without exceeding them. If your weight sits above the healthy weight range, try to modify your lifestly to reduce your weight.
  • Reduce how much alcohol you drink, and instead choose non-alcoholic, unsweetened drinks
Your Personal Healthy Eating Quiz

What you eat or don’t eat affects how you look, feel and perform. Take our short quiz to find out what foods you could introduce to help you be your best.

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What is healthy eating?

Eating healthy is making sure you enjoy a wide variety of foods from each of the five major food groups daily, in the amounts recommended. The five major food groups as recommended by the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating are:

  1. vegetables and legumes/bean
  2. fruit
  3. lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes/beans
  4. grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
  5. milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.

Foods are grouped together because they provide similar amounts of key nutrients and eating a variety of foods from the list above helps to promote good health and reduce the risk of disease.

How do I improve my diet?

If you want to improve your diet you have come to the right place. By completing the Healthy Eating Quiz you’ll receive instant personalised feedback and a report on your diet quality to highlight any areas where you can improve your overall eating habits. Your score is based on the frequency and variety of the foods consumed from the five major food groups mentioned above. No Money No Time can help you improve your score by providing tips, goals and suggestions. On top of this we will provide quick, cheap and healthy recipes as well as credible answers to diet hacks, myths and FAQ’s.

Is my diet healthy?

Dietary habits are different between people. Some people choose to follow a particular diet (i.e., Keto diet or vegan diet) while some have to make changes due to certain food restrictions or health conditions. If you want to know if what you usually eat is healthy, then do the Healthy Eating Quiz today to give you the answers in less than 10 minutes.

Why is healthy eating important?

Your HEQ score and personalised feedback report is based on the frequency and variety of healthy core foods you usually eat. This is important because no single food contains all the nutrients we need to stay healthy. Some foods are higher in nutrients than others and people who have a lot of variety in the foods they eat are more likely to be healthy and to stay healthy. In other words, if you can eat a large variety of vegetables as opposed to only 2-3 types of vegetables, the benefits are much greater. This type of diet also helps you to feel better, think better and perform better during your usual daily activities.

Take the Healthy Eating Quiz