Nutritious, fiber-rich foods have long been associated with regular bowel function and improved digestive health. Recent research suggests that the effects of these foods may be more beneficial than previously thought, especially with regard to the development of colon polyps. Colon, or colorectal, polyps are small fleshy growths inside the lining of the large intestine or rectum. Many types are benign. Others, referred to as pre-malignant, can develop into colorectal cancer — one of the leading causes of death in both North America and Western Europe. Certain foods promote colon health and may have such a dramatic impact as to even discourage polyp formation. Let’s take a look at ten of them.
1. Chicken (Poultry)
The Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health identified a link between poultry consumption, specifically during adolescence, and reduced chance of developing colorectal polyps. In fact, substituting red meat for poultry was linked to a 41% reduction in the risk of rectal and advanced polyps!  Plus, chicken provides quality lean protein and is rich in B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and selenium. Just make sure to choose vegetarian fed, range-free, organic chicken.
A stop by the fish market may also protect your colon’s health. A study found the fatty acids in fish reduced the chance of developing colorectal polyps in individuals with a family history.  The fatty acids in fish also encourage overall digestive health, not to mention benefits for the brain, heart and vascular system.
Almonds are ultra popular and it’s easy to see why. One serving of almonds contains 100% of the recommended daily allowance of magnesium. Research suggests that individuals with sufficient magnesium intake enjoy a reduced risk of polyp formation.  Of course, almonds also contain fiber, quality fatty acids and are packed with vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium, iron, and potassium.
4. Yogurt, and Cheese
It has to be organic, but yogurt and cheese contribute to colon health. A Greek study specifically linked yogurt with a lesser incidence of colorectal polyps.  Although the mechanisms for success were not determined, the probiotic effect is known to encourage digestive health by maintaining balanced intestinal flora. This is known to defend against inflammatory bowel disease, which has been linked to colorectal polyps.
5. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Spinach, collard greens, kale and other dark green leafy vegetables offer high concentrations of folate. This B vitamin is necessary for DNA synthesis and repair. Without adequate folate, the process can break down and lead to serious health risks. Researchers at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health have noted individuals with the highest folate levels enjoy a significantly reduced risk of polyp formation and colorectal cancer. 
Veggies such as alfalfa, peas, peanuts, lentils and soybeans are a great way to protect the colon. Eat these legumes and reduce your risk of colorectal polyps, according to research. The higher your intake, the less your risk. 
7. High Fiber
High fiber foods have long been known for their role in keeping the digestive tract healthy. Beans, artichoke, and oats are high quality sources of dietary fiber. Studies of people who regularly eat fiber-rich foods reported a 35% reduction in developing polyps compared to those who only occasionally consume dietary fiber. For those who have had polyps, increasing fiber consumption has been linked to reduced polyp recurrence. 
Bromelain occurs naturally in the fruit and stem of a pineapple. In clinical trials, bromelain fought colorectal cancer cells while inhibiting polyp formation.  Of course, pineapple provides a high dose of vitamin C, necessary for proper cell function. It also contains folate.
9. Green Tea
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the active polyphenol in green tea, has been extensively studied. Now, scientists recommend the EGCG in green tea as a preventative for polyps.  A Japanese study identified a significant effect in colorectal polyp prevention when drinking 10 cups of green tea per day.  Not to mention, a couple cups of green tea is excellent support for a healthy diet in its own right.
Quercetin, the potent flavonoid found in onions, has been associated with reducing polyp formation in individuals with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), a family history of developing polyps. A study combined quercetin and curcumin, the potent found in turmeric, and found this combination reduced the number of polyps by 60% and the size of the polyps by 50%!  For maximum effect, when making curry (of which turmeric is a key ingredient) make sure it has onions!
All of the foods above contain essential nutrients for colon health. While these can be part of your polyp discouragement plan, it needs to be mentioned that avoiding the foods that encourage polyp formation also needs to be part of the game plan.
Have you dealt with polyps? What measures did you take? Please leave a comment below and share your experience.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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