As a dietitian, it is my job to help people figure out which foods will help them feel their best. No surprise there!

What might surprise you, though, is that a lot of the time, I end up talking about what is coming out the other end of the digestive tract. It seems that these days, our colon is taking centre stage in our pursuit of good health.

Your colon handles whatever your digestive system doesn’t digest and absorb from the foods you eat. Those leftovers interact with your colon and the bacteria that live there and those interactions are not without their long term impact on your health.

How you choose to eat can really impact the function of the whole digestive tract on a daily basis and over time. Since March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to share some super easy ways to get your colon into tip top shape for now and years to come.

1. Your gut needs a personal trainer.

Fiber is responsible for keeping your digestive tract toned and ‘fit’; women need at least 25g a day and men need about 40 grams. One of the easiest ways to add fiber is to sprinkle a high fibre cereal onto salads, soups or yogurt. My favourite picks? Nature’s Path Smart Bran or Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax for the gluten free. Find them on my healthy grocery list!

2. Where’s the beef? Hopefully nowhere near your colon

Eating too much red meat is associated with colon cancer, as is eating processed red meat like bologna. If you love red meat, treat it like a side dish instead of the main event. Buy the best quality you can afford, such as grass fed meats and keep portions small once a week.

3. Embrace bad breath…it’s good for you.

Garlic is a potent medicinal food and eating garlic regularly is thought to help prevent colon cancer. To retain more of garlic’s benefits, crush or finely mince the clove and add towards the end of cooking, instead of frying it into oblivion. Feeling adventurous? Be bold and add a half clove raw crushed garlic to salad dressings for flavourful benefits.

4. Move your body every day

Being fit is associated with a lower risk of cancer; you don’t have to join a gym but you do need to get your body moving (and sweating) for 30 minutes a day. Walk with a friend, bike with your kids…do whatever you love! It will lower your cancer risk and actually help keep you regular too.

5. Get your greens

Eating a ton of fruit and veg, including greens, helps to fight inflammation, increase fibre intake and flood your system with anti-oxidants that help to support healing. Make half your plate fruit and veg daily for better health, increased energy and a lower risk of disease over time.

Concerned about colon cancer? Over 50? Talk to your doc about getting screened for colon cancer. Early detection saves lives!