Cancer is a malignant disease that often leaves little hope for successful treatment. Recurrences are common, and most patients do not even survive the treatment they are subjected to.
One of the biggest concerns in the medical industry is finding a permanent cure for cancer patients. A lot of research has however revealed that the risk of cancer can be vastly reduced with the help of a clean diet – one that minimizes the consumption of alcohol, grilled red meats and refined sugar – and by abstaining from smoking, both passively and actively.
Maintaining a proper regimen for physical exercises and activities also helps in avoiding cancer.
Dried prunes have been known for their anti-carcinogenic properties. However, it was not until recently that a possible mechanism of the anti-tumor properties of prunes came to light.
Research data presented in the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology showed that dried prunes alter the balance of microbiota in the large intestine and produce compounds that may lower the risk for colon cancer.
Microbiota are the microorganisms that live in our gut. There are over 100 trillion bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract. Most of them are beneficial for our health as they support our immune and digestive system. They have recently been recognized as a key orchestrator of cancer therapy.
While the relationship between cancer and microbes is complex, it is believed that certain microbes in our gut can mitigate carcinogenesis. What’s interesting is that dried prunes appear to function as prebiotics – the specialized plant fiber that selectively nourishes the good bacteria in our gut.
Dried Plums Reduce Colon Cancer Risk in Rats and Possibly in Humans
The good news about the anti-carcinogenic effects of dried prunes was first publicized by Dr. Nancy Turner, who tried to understand the effects of certain food items on cancer. The results of her study were introduced at the annual Experimental Biology Conference in Boston. The study declared that by introducing dried plums and prunes into their regular diet, people could reduce the risk of cancer by a significant percent.
The University of North Carolina and Texas A&M University got together to conduct the experiment to verify if plums really had an effect on the microbiota composition inside the colon. Any fluctuations in the level of microbiota can cause intestinal inflammation that could lead to colon cancer.
What Was The Study About?
As already mentioned, our gut contains trillions of bacteria which we call microbiota or probiotics. Probiotics play a significant role in our ability to digest food and defend against pathogenic bacteria. The two main types of gut bacteria are Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. Studies have shown that the ratio of these two types of bacteria influences how lean we are. The more Bacteroidetes you have compared to your Firmicutes, the less body fat you tend to have. Obese people have a probiotic profile that promotes weight gain. In fact, when gut bacteria from obese people were transferred to the gut of normal weight mice, the mice became fat!
Now, this particular study focused on a rat model to signify the effects that dried plums have on the probiotic profile in humans. One group of rats was fed dried plums, while the other group was kept on a controlled diet without plums. After a couple of weeks, researchers made two important discoveries:
- The rats that ate dried plums had a higher level of Bacteroidetes and a lower amount of Fermicutes. The other group of rats showed a higher rate of Fermicutes and a lower amount of Bacteroidetes.
- The rats fed plums showed reduced numbers of aberrant crypts. What are aberrant crypts? These are precancerous lesions that indicate cancer is being developed in the human gut. This observation established the connection between a lower risk of cancer and consumption of dried plums.
Plums Reduce Aberrant Crypt Foci
Medical professionals often talk about routine checks being helpful in preventing cancer. These procedures focus on studying the local tissue in order to look for precancerous lesions. These lesions are a signal that there are malignant cells present which could grow and spread elsewhere. Before they could grow, surgeons can easily cut out the lesions from the healthy tissue and nip the problem at the bud. Aberrant crypt foci are the earliest observable precancerous lesions which signify an imminent cancer risk.
The rats that ate dried plums showed reduced aberrant crypts, which means that plums have a natural process of balancing the healthy bacterial composition in the colon, thereby causing less chance of malignant growths.
Other Benefits of Eating Plums:
The health benefits of plums extend beyond their cancer protective effect. Their benefits are significant in other ways as well:
- Plums contain phenolic compounds that fight free radicals – harmful substances generated by smoking, drugs, and chemicals in food.
- A medium sized plum contains about 113 mg of potassium that reduces high blood pressure and prevents stroke.
- Plums always help with constipation. They will regulate your bowel movement effectively.
- Plums are also a low glycemic fruit, which means that they are good for keeping Type 2 diabetes in check.
- Plums cause high bone mineral density, which is very helpful for pregnant women.
- Studies also establish that plums help to neutralize the toxic chemical elements in the body that could create memory loss.
Plums are low in calories. One plum contains only 30 calories, which is only 1.5% of the recommended 2,000 calories daily energy intake. This is why weight loss programs like Weight Watchers, and diet food delivery services like DiettoGo and BistroMD (read more), recommend dieters eat snacks with dried plums.
Many doctors therefore suggest that people should include plums in their diet. Eating plums with yoghurt for dessert is another healthy recipe for good living. It will keep your body free of toxic buildup and will also reduce the chance of colon cancer. Prevention is definitely better than cure, and maintaining a good diet is the key to good health.