Consuming dried plums may drastically reduce the risk of developing colon cancer, according to new research.
Plums, fresh or dry are rich in antioxidants and are already known to be of great help in regulating gut bacteria or microbiota. Now, according to the research findings, these properties might also aid in reducing the risk of developing colon cancer.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina and the Texas A&M University was presented at the Experimental Biology conference taking place in Boston.
Drawing on previous research that shows how including certain types of food in one’s diet can be either beneficial or bad for the overall metabolism, the researchers decided to look at how dried plums may affect the microbiota in the colon, thus affecting the risk of colon cancer.
Microbiota or the bacteria residing in our gut and intestines may be easily disrupted. When this happens, and over a prolonged period of time, intestinal inflammation makes itself felt. Secondly, inflammatory bouts occur. And altogether, these may lead to colon cancer.
The research team conducted their study on rats. According to Doctor Nancy Turner, lead researcher on the study:
“Our research explored the potential cancer-protective properties of dried plums using a well-established rat model of colon cancer. Dried plums contain phenolic compounds, which have multiple effects on our health, including their ability to serve as antioxidants”.
As such, the research team sought to test the idea that consuming dried plums may help with the retention of ‘good’ microbiota, as well as with regulating the metabolic patterns of microbes in the colon.
One group of rats in the experiment fed daily on a diet rich in dried plums. Another group of rats consumed a strictly controlled diet. Throughout, the changes occurring in the microbiota of each rat in the two groups were monitored regularly.
When colon tissue was examined, along with the contents of the intestine, the team found that one beneficial bacteria was boosted in the rats that were consuming dried plums. Knows as the Bacteroidetes, their presence was increased, while Firmicutes decreased. Both these bacteria are found in the distal colon. The reverse was valid for the rats that had been fed the strictly controlled diet.
Moreover, the rats consuming dried plums had less aberrant crypts. These are typically observed in the case of precancerous lesions.
Taken together, these two findings indicate that consuming dried plums is indeed beneficial in reducing the risk of developing colon cancer. More studies will be needed with human participants to establish if the same holds true in our case. Yet, the results of this experiment are of great importance for colon cancer prevention.
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