Blue Navy March: the close relationship between diet and colorectal health

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During the month of awareness for the 3rd type of cancer that affects the most Brazilians, experts warn: diet makes all the difference when it comes to preventing the disease

Among the many colors of calendar ribbons, March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness and Prevention Month. According to data from the National Cancer Institute (INCA), which monitors the incidence, morbidity and hospital mortality of different types of cancer, colon and rectal tumors are the third most common in the country, affecting approximately 40,000 men and women per year.

Habits such as excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, poor diet, smoking and physical inactivity are the main factors in the development of the disease. The navy blue march aims to give visibility and raise awareness of risky behaviors, symptoms of the disease, the importance of early diagnosis and preventive and palliative care.

50% to 75% of colorectal cancer cases can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle

The Brazilian Society of Surgical Oncology maintains that changing habits can significantly reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer. However, it should be noted that, like other types of the disease, the origin of cancer of the intestinal region is multifactorial and its incidence can be linked to various conditions such as family and personal history and inflammatory diseases of the intestine. anterior intestine.

What can (and should) be avoided?

“Diet can influence colorectal carcinogenesis with several interacting mechanisms, such as direct effects on immune response and inflammation, but also indirect effects of malnutrition and obesity, considered as risk factors for the development of this type of bowel cancer,” the study explains. nutritionist Adriana Zanardo.

processed red meat

Classified as a group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO), processed meats, as well as sausages in general, have the potential to develop colorectal cancer, due to the concentration of nitrate in these foods, which are artificial preservatives capable of increasing mutations. .mobile phones.

Too much refined sugar

Consumption of high sugar foods is considered a potential risk factor for colorectal cancer due to the state of hyperinsulinemia, a condition that can lead to the precursor lesion of most colorectal cancers.

Alcoholic beverages

The consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol at constant frequency increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer by 1.2 to 1.5 times, due to the metabolic impact that alcohol promotes on the intestinal barrier, and on fermentation. pathogenic bacteria, in addition to accelerating the process of mutagenesis.

overcooked meats

The way meat is cooked and prepared can increase the risk of bowel cancer. Indeed, when it passes the point, it produces heterocyclic amines, which are carcinogenic components.

Ultra-industrialized products rich in artificial sweeteners and colorings

Chemical additives present in ultra-processed products such as fast foods, or those that use artificial components, increase the risk of cell mutations, providing the intestinal environment for the development of cancer, as they unbalance the homeostasis of the intestine, whether in relation to its functioning or to the quality of the microbiota.

How to integrate preventive foods for this type of cancer into everyday life?

Changing eating habits, physical activity and professional medical monitoring are safe and effective tools against colorectal cancer. “We list some powerful foods to help prevent this disease that you should eat daily, such as whole grains, bran, and fruit,” comments R&D manager Melissa Carpi.

To make it easier to incorporate these foods into the diet, check out the list of some healthier foods.

Chia and flax seeds

Chia and flax seeds are sources of soluble fiber, which is involved in the production of short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, propionate and acetate. They are products of digestive fermentation that stimulate the proliferation of beneficial bacteria in the intestine, generating a good functioning of the metabolic and immune system.

fruit in general

Fruit consumption in general, both in natural and dehydrated form, provides a significant amount of antioxidants. These components protect cells from oxidative stress which can initiate and promote carcinogenesis by inducing genetic mutations, DNA damage and inflammation.

Whole grains

Whole grains such as rice, oats and wheat bran are rich in undigested insoluble fiber in the intestine, i.e. they generate a scavenging of the intestinal wall, reducing the concentration of toxic substances and impurities capable of developing inflammatory processes and the formation of cancers. the intestine.

Natural spices – turmeric, ginger, cinnamon

A source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory active ingredients, spices such as turmeric, ginger and cinnamon are welcome in everyday food preparation with an emphasis on gastrointestinal protection. These active ingredients contribute to attenuate the inflammatory processes of the intestinal barrier.


Consuming 20 grams of oilseeds, such as chestnuts and walnuts, helps reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, due to the fiber found in oilseeds, which can increase bowel movement and stool production.

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