—A Special Report from Victor Marchione, MD
You probably don’t spend much time thinking about your colon. Like most people, you probably never give it a second thought and just assume it is doing its job like it’s supposed to be doing. But here is a simple truth: if your colon isn’t removing waste efficiently, you’re not going to feel well. The problem is that when toxins and wastes accumulate in your intestines, it makes it difficult to absorb nutrients. And when you aren’t absorbing nutrients, it’s a lot harder to feel healthy.
All the major organs in your body and hundreds of body processes need a steady supply of vitamins and minerals, proteins and fats. Some of these nutrients are absorbed through your intestines. But when your colon is clogged with waste, instead of absorbing health-giving nutrients, it’s likely you’ll be getting a dose of disease-causing toxins. Toxins re-circulate back through your body if they are not removed. And, according to some medical experts, these toxins may be involved in the onset of colon cancer.
So what do you do if you want to protect your colon, given that it has such an important job to do and yet may be at risk? Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences say that you might want to add more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.
The research team set out to investigate the relationship between polyunsaturated fatty acid intake and bowel cancer risk in nearly 2,500 patients. They found that those who had the highest omega-2 intake had half the risk for colon cancer compared to those patients at the bottom of the intake scale.
The research team then looked at the two main fatty acids contained in fish oil — eicosapentaenoic acids and docosahexaenoic acids – and found that cancer risk was significantly lower in those with the highest intakes.
One interesting note from the study: the researchers also found that people who consumed more omega-6 fatty acids in relation to omega-3s were more likely to have colon cancer, although omega-6 intake in and of itself didn’t affect risk.
Omega-6 fatty acids are found in palm oil, soybean oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil. In addition to fish oils, omega-3 fatty acid sources include seed oils, such as walnut oil and flax-seed oils, and leafy green vegetables. Most people in the U.S. typically get more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s. You want to aim for a diet that balances omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids in a ratio of about 3:1 — three omega-6 fatty acids for one omega-3 fatty acid.
Remember that essential fatty acids turn rancid and go off very quickly. They should be kept away from light, heat and air. Also, commercial processing can destroy them, so always buy fresh, cold-pressed oils. Finally, pesticides often gather in fats and oils, so buy organic if possible.