Nutrition and Exercise/

A healthy diet and lifestyle can help reduce your bowel cancer risk. It is recommended you:

  • Avoid tobacco smoking
  • Avoid alcohol, or limit intake to no more than two standard drinks per day for men and no more than one standard drink per day for women
  • Maintain a healthy weight range and avoid abdominal fatness
  • Exercise regularly

Participate in at least 30-60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days – like a brisk walk – something that causes a slight but noticeable increase in your breathing and heart rate

  • Avoid sedentary behaviour

Minimise the amount of time spent sitting or lying down each day (with the exception of sleeping) and break up long periods of sitting as often as possible

  • Increase your intake of fibre, particularly insoluble fibre

Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that helps keep our digestive system healthy. It is found in plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruit, grains, beans and legumes.

Insoluble fibre absorbs water to help to soften the contents of our bowels, support regular bowel movements and help keep us full and the bowel environment healthy. It is found in wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts, seeds, wheat bran and the skin of fruit and vegetables.

Wholegrain breads and cereals are better for you than refined (white) cereal foods because many of the important nutrients occur in the outer layer of the grain which is lost during processing.

  • Avoid charred red meat and limit processed meats

Moderate amounts of lean red meat (up to 100g per day) can be eaten as part of a mixed diet – that’s roughly the size of your palm and the thickness of a pack of cards

  • Research shows garlic and milk probably protect against cancer

For more information about the primary prevention of bowel cancer, read the Australian Guidelines for Prevention, Early Detection and Management of Colon Cancer here

Australian Dietary Guidelines/

To promote general health and wellbeing and reduce the risk of diet-related health and chronic conditions including some cancers, it is recommended you:

  • Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from these five groups every day:

Vegetables including different types and colours, and legumes such as beans, peas and lentils


Grain foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley

Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds

Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat less of these foods

Foods high in saturated fat such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips, crisps and other savoury snacks

Replace high fat foods which contain predominantly saturated fats such as butter, cream, cooking margarine, coconut and palm oil with foods which contain predominantly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as oils, spreads, nut butters/pastes and avocado

Foods and drinks containing added salt. Read labels to choose lower sodium options among similar foods and do not add salt to foods in cooking or at the table

Foods and drinks containing added sugars such as confectionary, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy and sports drinks

For more information about Australian Dietary Guidelines, visit the EATFORHEALTH.GOV.AU website here