Colorectal cancer is becoming quite common in aging men and women. When cells of the colon or the rectum become cancerous, it is typically termed as, 'Colorectal cancer'. This cancer grows and spreads further into the gut and the intestines, and thus impacts the digestive system of the body. Therefore, it is extremely important for the patients and survivors of colorectal cancer to choose the right dietary options that can help them feel better, strong, and nourished during and after the treatment, as well as speed-up their recovery. 

Read here some nutrition tips regarding what to eat and what to not to eat in order to cope with colorectal cancer:

What to eat

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  • Eat foods rich in folate (folic acid) and vitamin B, which include dark green vegetables like okra, broccoli, beans, peas, spinach, asparagus, and lentils. Citrus fruits, avocado, papaya, cantaloupe, and banana also increase daily folic acid intake. So, fill your plate with more servings of these fruits and veggies.
  • Add minimally-processed dairy foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, etc., which are rich in calcium and vitamin D. It is helpful for digestion.
  • Consume whole-grain foods such as oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, brown rice, whole-grain pasta, quinoa, etc. These foods are rich sources of fiber and important vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, and folate.
  • Drink plenty of water and fluid for easy digestion of foods. It will also lower the risk of other complications like constipation, nausea, and fatigue. Go for smoothies or plush your water with berries, mint, or lemons to add flavor and taste.
  • Include lean protein foods such as chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, and soy foods, etc. These foods will help to repair body’s cells and tissues and will boost the immune system to help you recover from the illness.

What not to eat

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  • Avoid red and processed meats such as beef, pork, lamb, hamburger, hot dogs, bacon, and cold cuts. High consumption of these foods is associated with increased risk of colorectal, colon, and rectal cancers.
  • Limit caffeine intake to improve your energy level. Many medications do not mix well with usual amounts of caffeine, so it is a must to limit the intake of caffeine for a speedy recovery.
  • Say no to smoke and smokeless tobacco as it dehydrates your body and lowers the abilities of your immune system. They also double the chance of cancer reoccurrence.
  • Cut your alcohol intake to one drink for women and two or three for men, once in a while. Do not cross this limit to live well with colorectal cancer.
  • Stay away from excess sugar and prefer a diabetes-friendly diet, which includes more protein and a limited quantity of processed carbohydrates, sugary drinks, and desserts.

Before incorporating any of the suggestion mentioned above, communicate with your doctor because changes in your diet may affect your bowel habits. Your doctor will focus on your specific cancer-nutrition needs and plan your diet accordingly, so as to help in reducing the reoccurrence of colon cancer and assist you towards a speedy recovery.

For any query related to the changes in bowel habits and diet-related advice, consult a Gastroenterologist at

About the Author

Vishesh Rohatgi

Dr. Vishesh Rohatgi is a Cardiologist and Head of the Medical Content team. He is an extensive reader and writer. He has a special interest in doing social service and is working with different NGOs in his hometown. His articles have been published in various national and international journals.

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