People who eat dried plums are less likely to suffer from colon cancer later in life, according to a new study.
Previous studies have shown that diet can change the metabolism and composition of gut bacteria. Disruptions to the bacteria appear to trigger initial intestinal inflammation and recurrences. Recurrent inflammation can promote development of colon cancer in the long term.
As part of the study, the rats were fed a control diet or a diet containing dried plums. The diets were matched for total calories and macronutrient composition so that the effect due to diet would be attributed to compounds uniquely found in the dried plums. The intestinal contents and tissues from different segments of the colon were examined.
The scientists discovered that the plum diet changed the levels of two major bacteria in the gut. In the distal colon, it increased the level of Bacteriodes, but reduced the amount of Firmicutes. They also noted that the proportions were not affected in the proximal colon.
In addition, the animals that consumed the experimental diet had significantly reduced numbers of aberrant crypts and aberrant crypt foci compared with control rats.
“Through our research, we were able to show that dried plums promote retention of beneficial bacteria throughout the colon,” said Nancy Turner, professor at Texas A&M University, Texas.
These findings suggest a positive role for dried plums in protecting against colon cancer through establishing microbiota, also known as gut bacteria, compositions in the distal colon.
Dried plums contain chemical compound known as phenolic compound. These compounds have various health benefits such as serving as antioxidants that neutralize the oxidant effects of free radicals, which can damage DNA.
Colon cancer is one of the top killers among men across the globe. Risk factors include older age, family history of colon polyps, smoking, alcohol and diet. IMAGE/shutterstock