Bowel cancer and IBS: how can we help?

April 1, 2019 6:26 am Published by Leave your thoughts

This month, we’re deep in our bowels. Well, not literally – but we’re having a really good think about them! That’s because April brings not just one, but two chances to get to grips with what’s going on down there: it’s both Bowel Cancer and IBS Awareness Months in April 2019.

We're deep in our bowels - fancy joining us?

The two conditions might both be about bowels, but there’s a great deal of difference between them – including, obviously, their severity. Interestingly, however, both conditions have clear risk factors related to diet and clear preventative advice that’s all about diet too. At Naturally Good Food we strive to bring the very best diets to everyone – and while our bowels might be at the bottom of our bodies, they come at the very top of our wellbeing checklist!

Let’s look at bowel cancer first.

Bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is also known as colon or colorectal cancer and is the development of cancer from the colon or rectum. It’s an interesting cancer in that there are fairly clear risk factors relating to weight, physical activity and diet. Researchers now believe that changes in diet and lifestyle can entirely prevent certain types of bowel cancers from developing.

Foodwise, this is mostly to do with fibre. The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition has found that a high-fibre diet, particularly when derived from cereals and wholegrains, reduces the risk of developing bowel polyps (the precursor to bowel cancer) and the cancer itself. Eating too much red and processed meat, on the other hand, increases the risk. Research in the US, meanwhile, has shown that eating fruit and pulses lessens the risk.

We get terribly excited about fibre at Naturally Good Food, so let’s work our way through our fantastic high-fibre offering with you.

Wholefoods

We have a whole section of our website dedicated to wholefoods. In wholefoods, the whole of the food is used, with all of its fibrous outer husk. Brown rice, wholewheat pasta and noodles, and other grains, such as quinoa, barley, millet, buckwheat, couscous, rye and spelt, to name just a few, are all high in fibre. We stock wholemeal flour to make your own bread, or ready-made bread mixes and long-life breads that are rich in wholegrains. If you’re following a gluten-free diet, you should pay particular attention to the amount of fibre you consume. Many of our ready-made gluten-free products are enriched by high-fibre ingredients, such as psyllium husk.

Cereals

We’ve got a vast range of wholegrain cereals, of every possible variety and form we can source! We have everything from amaranth to wheatgerm, in natural form, or as grains, flakes or puffs. Cereals are not just for breakfast, of course – they’re incorporated into a huge number of other products, or can be eaten as grains on their own (as with couscous).

Oats

Oats (proper oats, that is, not sad little packets of ‘instant’ oaty dust) are great for fibre. We stock porridge oats and the thicker jumbo oats. Or, of course, you might prefer oatmeal or oat groats to make your porridge – which are even better for you in fibre terms.

Fruit

Dried Fruit

We don’t stock fresh fruit, but we do have a good selection of tinned and bottled fruit. For the full amount of fibre, though, try our great range of dried fruit, which runs from dark, juicy organic apricots, through raisins, currants and sultanas, to figs, dates and prunes. We even stock dried peaches, pears and bananas, as well as more exotic fruits, such as mangoes. Dried fruit is an easy way to get your full daily ‘dose’ of goodness – you can fit more dried fruit into one meal, or one dish, than you can with fresh. Click here to see our full range of dried fruit.

Nuts and seeds

If you’re moving away from a heavily meat-based diet, you’ll need to think about alternative sources of protein. We have a collection of nuts that a squirrel would envy: almonds, brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, macadamia, peanuts and pistachios – all rich in non-meaty goodness. We also have a fantastic range of fibre-rich seeds, which are ideal for sprinkling on some of that wholegrain cereal we mentioned above.

Fish

We sell an extensive range of Fish4Ever ethically sourced fish, which again, makes a good option for those moving away from meat.

Fibre isn’t just good for our bowels. It can improve our cholesterol levels and help stabilise blood sugar, thus improving heart health and lowering the risk of diseases such as diabetes. It’s a vital element of a healthy diet and one to which we should probably all give more attention.

And IBS?

IBS stands for irritable bowel syndrome – a relatively common condition affecting the digestive system, causing symptoms like stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. It’s an irritating condition to manage – in every sense of the word – even if it’s not of the same severity as bowel cancer. And once again, changes to your diet can have a big impact on IBS.

However, they’re not quite the same changes as discussed above. The standard advice is, well, pretty standard: cook proper meals using fresh ingredients, exercise more, cut down on caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks and avoid overly fatty or heavily processed foods (also, overly spicy foods).

What you should do next really depends on the form your IBS takes. The NHS gives advice in three categories.

To ease ‘bloating, cramps and farting’ it suggests eating oats and linseed every day, but avoiding foods that are hard to digest, including beans and dried fruit.

To avoid diarrhoea, it advises cutting down on high-fibre foods altogether – turning your back on wholegrain foods, nuts and seeds.

If on the other hand, it’s constipation you’re trying to relieve, then the NHS advice is to go for lots of soluble fibre, with oats, pulses and linseed picked out as being particularly beneficial.

Needless to say, there are many personal testimonies and advice about living with IBS online. These blogs give a variety of viewpoints and recommend certain diets (check out www.healmeinthekitchen.com for one that particularly resonates with us).

One thing that often comes up with IBS is a confusion with coeliac disease. The two are entirely different – IBS involves the large intestine and coeliac disease the small intestine –  but many people diagnosed with coeliac disease spend years beforehand being told they have IBS (and it is, of course, entirely possible to have both). If you think you might have coeliac disease, it’s important to be properly tested, so that you know whether following a gluten-free diet makes sense for you. If it does, then once again, Naturally Good Food is your tummy’s friend: we’re one of the leading online retailers of gluten-free products.

IBS doesn’t lead to bowel cancer (and instances of misdiagnosis between the two are thankfully rare). If you’re suffering from any unusual bowel symptoms, however, you need to get them properly medically checked out. Bowels might not be glamorous, but when they go downhill, the rest of us goes downhill with them!

Naturally Good Reads v2

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This post was written by Yzanne

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