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Abby Ixer’s Nutritious Food: Reduce The Risk Of Bowel Cancer

Published on: 12 Mar, 2015
Updated on: 12 Mar, 2015

Abby Ixer is a registered dietician with a passion for food and nutrition. She moved to Guildford four years ago and is currently working in the area of health promotion, delivering healthy lifestyle programmes and giving dietary advice to groups around west London.

She says: “There is a vast array of information available about nutrition and it is often difficult to know what to believe. In this column I aim to tackle some of these issues by sharing some of the science behind specific health claims and providing practical ways of improving health through nutrition. I will share my tips about where to find local and seasonal produce and share some of my own recipes to incorporate these into everyday life.

“Please feel free to post a comment if there are any areas you would like to see featured.”

Dietician Abby Ixer.

Dietician Abby Ixer.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in the UK. It is thought that 15% to 35% of all cancers could be prevented by making diet and lifestyle changes. March is bowel cancer awareness month, so it is important to highlight ways of reducing the risk of developing this disease.

Some research suggests that diet can have an impact on risk of bowel cancer. It is thought that people who eat large amounts of processed and red meat may be at increased risk of developing bowel cancer, compared to those who eat smaller amounts.

Red meat contains a range of nutrients such as protein, iron and zinc, and when eaten in moderation can feature in a balanced diet. However, it is important to choose lean varieties and minimise the amount of processed meat that we eat. Processed meat is often high in fat and salt, and provides very little nutritionally.

Research also shows that fibre is protective against bowel cancer. Fibre is an important part of a healthy diet, and is important for maintaining a healthy digestive system, keeping our bowels regular and helping to reduce cholesterol. However, most people in the UK eat much less than the recommended 18g per day.

Those who eat higher amounts of fibre generally have a reduced risk of bowel cancer. To ensure fibre intake is adequate, it is important to eat plenty of fibre rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, oats, nuts and seeds, pulses and whole grains. It is important to increase fibre intake gradually with plenty of water. Swapping white bread for wholemeal or granary, increasing fruit and vegetable intake and introducing lentils or other pulses into the diet is a good way of boosting fibre intake.

Imbhams Farm Granary is a local business that produces freshly baked whole grain cereals, oats and bread mixes, so why not pop down the Guildford Farmers’ Market on the first Tuesday of every month to check out their range of high fibre produce? You can also boost your fruit and vegetable intake by heading down to the market on North Street on Fridays and Saturdays to grab some local fruits and vegetables.

For more information about symptoms of bowel cancer and other dietary links, visit the NHS Choices website at

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