How To Keep Your Colon Healthy

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Fri Aug 11 2023.

Man running outside.

Many of us rarely think about colon health. But if your large intestine doesn’t function properly, it can affect your nutrition and bowel habits, increasing your risk of illness and digestive problems. 

Everyone’s colon changes due to the aging process, but there are various things you can do to keep your colon healthy. Below, we provide some simple tips and tricks for optimal colon health.

What Is The Colon?

The colon, or large intestine, is a long, hollow tube that plays a crucial role in digestion.

Food enters the colon from the small intestine after liquid and nutrients are absorbed. Any remnants are then broken down by gut bacteria and formed into stool. The colon produces mucus that helps the stool pass during bowel movements. 

Why Is a Healthy Colon Important?

A healthy colon is important because it’s responsible for eliminating waste from the body. If your colon doesn’t function normally, toxins and waste can build up, increasing your risk of illness and digestive problems. 

What You’ll Need:

To keep your colon healthy, you need to eat a high fiber healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids, and visit the doctor for routine checkups and preventive screenings. It’s also good to have a fiber supplement on hand (which we highlight below).

Steps to Keeping Your Colon Healthy

Step 1: Exercise Regularly

Exercise helps you stay in good shape, but it can also protect your colon.

Studies have found that regular workouts reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and help food move through your digestive tract. 

Even low-intensity exercise, like walking, promotes colon health, because it stimulates peristalsis –– muscle movements that help waste leave your body. 

Science backs this up. One study found that adults who exercise regularly are 19% less likely to develop colon cancer compared to those who don’t. 

Step 2: Drink Plenty of Fluids

Staying hydrated is essential for good health, yet up to 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Dehydration affects kidney function and blood pressure, but it can also impact colon health.

“Drinking water is necessary to promote a healthy colon, digestion, and regularity,” said Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, a registered dietitian, and the founder of Real Nutrition NYC. “Most adults, especially as they age, feel less thirsty. By drinking enough water, you help push food and fiber through your colon. Without it, you’ll likely become constipated.” 

Step 3: Eat High-Fiber Foods

High-fiber foods promote good colon health by softening and solidifying stools. 

These foods also feed the bacteria in your gut, which in turn release nutrients, like short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids help your colon produce mucus and reduce the risk of colon cancer and intestinal inflammation

Try including some of the following high-fiber foods in your diet:

  • Beans and lentils

  • Berries

  • Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts

  • Dried fruits

  • Whole grains

  • Avocado

  • Apples

  • Bananas

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Almonds

Generally speaking, women should eat 21-25 grams of fiber per day and men should eat 30-38 grams of fiber per day. 

Step 4: Take a Fiber Supplement

Eating high-fiber foods is good for your health, but it can also cause gastrointestinal problems, like gas, diarrhea, and bloating. If you’re struggling to adjust to a high-fiber diet, consider taking a fiber supplement, like the one we carry from Sunmark

“Psyllium husk is one of my favorite supplement recommendations,” Shapiro said. “It’s a natural ingredient that contains up to 4.5 grams of fiber per teaspoon and doesn’t take like anything. You can easily add it to yogurt, smoothies, or oatmeal to boost or increase fiber content.” 

Hear it from a caregiver

“My sister loves this. It works very well!”

- Callie L.

Step 5: Cut Back on Processed Foods

Highly processed foods, like french fries, hamburgers, and frozen dinners contain various chemicals that can damage or destroy healthy gut bacteria. These foods are also more likely to cause inflammation, which may increase the risk of colorectal cancer. 

If that’s not bad enough, junk food has very little fiber or nutrients. Plus, it contains preservatives and toxins that build up in the digestive tract.  

You don’t have to stop eating your favorite snacks altogether, but it is a good idea to cut back. 

Step 6: Schedule Preventive Screenings (Colonoscopy)

A colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure that uses a colonoscope –– a thin tube with a camera and light on the end –– to examine the inside of your large intestine. The test provides a quick and minimally invasive way to check for colon cancer, diverticulitis, and other digestive problems.

Adults 45 and older with an average risk of colon cancer should undergo a colonoscopy once every 10 years, according to the American Cancer Society. If you have digestive system problems or a family history of colon cancer more frequent colon cancer screenings might be necessary. 

“After your first colonoscopy your doctor will tell you the frequency at which to receive your next one depending on the health of your colon, polyps, and what else they may find,” said Shapiro.   

Step 7: Limit Alcohol consumption and Quit Tobacco

The occasional glass of wine or beer is OK, but don’t overdo it. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that women drink no more than one glass of alcohol per day and men drink no more than two glasses of alcohol per day.

If you use chewing tobacco or smoke, quit. Though this can be hard, it’s one of the best health decisions you can make. Your healthcare team can make recommendations to help curb cravings and eliminate tobacco from your life.

How To Keep Your Colon Healthy - Commonly Asked Questions

1) Do colon problems present symptoms?

Colon problems affect everyone differently. Some people don’t have any symptoms, particularly early on. Shapiro says there are several signs to look for, including:

  • Blood in your stools

  • Constipation

  • Unexplained diarrhea

  • Bloating, gas, or pressure

  • Changes to the shape or texture of your bowel movements

  • Changes in bowel habits

If something changes or feels off, make an appointment with your doctor. 

2) Should I be worried about colonoscopy prep?

Not at all. 

“Don’t fear the colonoscopy prep. People make it sound worse than it is,” Shapiro said. “It’s one day that will save your life. Don’t delay, just do it. Also, the healthier your diet, the easier it is to prepare for a colonoscopy. 

3) What foods are bad for your colon?

There are several foods that increase the risk of colon damage and problems. If you have gastrointestinal issues, avoid the following:

  • Sugar

  • Soda

  • Saturated fats (e.g., processed meat, like sausage and hot dogs)

  • Very spicy foods

  • Whole milk and cheese

  • Fried foods

Again, you don’t have to stop eating these things altogether, but you should at least try to consume them in moderation. 


A healthy colon is vital for good digestion and proper nutrient uptake.

By exercising regularly, drinking plenty of fluids, eating high-fiber foods, taking a fiber supplement, and scheduling routine preventive screenings, you can reduce your risk of common problems, like diverticulitis, chronic diarrhea, and colon cancer. 

If you have nutrition questions or need assistance choosing a fiber supplement, contact our friendly Care Specialists at (800) 696-CARE or send an email to We’re available 24/7 and love to help!

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.