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Meet Noel

Very few female physicians choose to specialize in gastroenterology. But Dr. Noel Lee, one of two female GI doctors at Vancouver Clinic, is passionate about the practice area. She thrives on the opportunity to help people manage serious illnesses, such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. She also finds it incredibly satisfying to see patients improve their health and go on to build the families and careers they want.

Dr. Lee supports individuals who want to include complementary medicine alongside Western medicine. She particularly enjoys being able to connect with women.

“We women have different experiences,” she says. “Our bodies are different from men’s. How we process stress and pain is different. So many of our patients are women and they need to feel comfortable talking about sensitive issues.”


What to eat for a healthier colon and better poop

By Dr. Noel Lee

Your diet has the biggest impact on the health of your digestive system. Getting food right can help you manage constipation, diarrhea, and other symptoms. What you eat (or avoid) can also influence your colon cancer risk, the second most common cancer in women and men.

As a GI doctor, I often counsel patients on how to build a colon-friendly diet. While everybody’s insides are different, we know that certain foods are better for colon health than others. Check out the foods below to learn what to put on your plate.

Eat: Fresh fruits and vegetables
Fruits and veggies are filled with lots of fiber, which is critical to good digestion and colon cancer prevention. Fixing salads is a good way to increase your intake of fresh produce. Opt for kale, spinach, and other hearty leaves, which have more fiber than water-filled romaine lettuce.

Eat: Whole grains
Oatmeal, bulgur, barley, and whole-wheat bread also contain lots of fiber. Carbohydrates can balance out a meal and help you feel full.

Eat: Lean proteins
Beans are an excellent source of fiber—and they go great on salads. Chicken and fish are healthy animal protein options.

Avoid: Red or processed meats
However delicious they are, beef, veal, lamb, sausage, bacon, and cold cuts are all considered Group 1 carcinogens—similar to alcohol and tobacco. For most people, it’s not practical (or tasty) to cut these foods out. Just be sure to eat them in moderation.

Eat: Coffee and dairy
The latest research suggests that coffee protects against liver cancer and probably protects the colon as well. Some studies show dairy may also be protective, but it can be difficult for some adults to tolerate.

Eat: Fiber supplements
Americans don’t tend to eat enough fiber in general. If you have difficulty getting a sufficient amount through food, you can try a fiber supplement such as Citrucel or Benefiber. These supplements can ease constipation and reduce diarrhea by bulking up the stool.

Remember, there’s a wide range of “normal” when it comes to pooping. Some people need to go three times a day. For others, going several times a week is enough. Keeping a food diary, and logging how your body reacts, is one of the best ways to get a handle on your digestive health. If you have specific concerns, however, be sure to talk to your doctor. Blood in the stool, fluctuations in weight, or a low overall energy level can sometimes be symptoms of a more serious issue and shouldn’t be ignored.