1. Eat at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

Be adventurous, and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in any form – canned, fresh, frozen, or dried. Plant foods are rich in fiber and many disease fighting chemicals.

Fruit serving sizes

1 cup fresh

1 tennis-ball sized piece

½ cup canned

¼ cup dried

4 oz. 100% juice

Vegetable serving sizes

1 cup raw

½ cup cooked

6 oz. 100% vegetable juice

2. Choose whole grains more often.

The new labeling of "whole grains" on packages can help you pick these good grains more often. Look for the word "whole" on the package and in the ingredient list (on the nutrition label), making sure that whole grains appear among the first items listed. Then also check the amount of fiber the product contains. Try to choose items with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving for the best benefit.

3. Limit the amount of beef, pork, lamb, and processed meats you eat.

Choose poultry or fish more frequently than red meat, and limit processed meats. Smaller portions of meat, consumed less often (a 12-ounce porterhouse is really 3 servings, not 1), are also beneficial. Most people do not need to consume more than 6 to 8 ounces of meat every day. Try replacing meat with dried beans for more fiber. One half cup of beans provides the same amount of protein as in 1 ounce of meat.

4. Try the following cooking methods more frequently.

Steaming, poaching, stewing, microwaving, braising, and boiling can prevent carcinogen development (cancer). If you are grilling, you can remove the skin on chicken or fish to reduce exposure. And do not forget – it is important to make sure your meat gets cooked thoroughly before eating it.

5. Consume foods with probiotics.

Probiotics are healthy bacteria that help fight off the bad bacteria in your gut. They also produce healthy substances that provide nourishment for your gut. Good sources of probiotics are yogurt, kefir, kimchee, raw apple cider vinegar, and raw sauerkraut.

6. Limit foods that have added sugars and animal fats.

These foods can produce harmful chemicals in the gastrointestinal tract and cause damage over time. Read ingredient labels for sources of added sugars. Choose lean meats and poultry without skin. Limit high-fat dairy products such as cheese and butter.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/22/2016.


  • Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 Accessed 11/22/2016.
  • United States Department of Agriculture. SuperTracker Accessed 11/22/2016.
  • Barrett KE, Barman SM, Boitano S, Brooks HL. Chapter 26. Digestion, Absorption, & Nutritional Principles. In: Barrett KE, Barman SM, Boitano S, Brooks HL, eds. Ganong's Review of Medical Physiology. 24th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2012.

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