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Previous research has suggested that cruciferous vegetables aid gut health, but now we know why.
It is no secret—fresh, crunchy roughage like cabbage, kale, and broccoli are superfoods when it comes to your gut health. But new research might finally explain how these vegetables are so good at improving gut health—and lowering the risk of bowel cancer.
A team of scientists at the Francis Crick Institute in London discovered that anti-cancer chemicals are actually produced by the body when digesting cruciferous vegetables. Their findings, published in the journal Immunity, were the result of closely studying the effects of phytochemicals from green vegetables on the digestive tracts of live mice and lab-grown bowel cells.
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But the chemicals found in cabbage and kale, among others, were vital to keeping holistic gut health in check: researchers noted that when these foods are eaten, higher levels of the phytochemical indole-3-carbinol or I3C, appear in digestive tracts. In the lower bowel, I3C can help foster a better environment for stem cell development, which helps regenerate the bowel surface faster. More I3C can also aid immune cells that stop widespread inflammation in the gut, BBC News reports.
Interested in learning more about gut health? Read on:
The new study included evidence that diets high in I3C helped protect mice from developing intestinal cancer—even for those who were at high-risk of developing the disease.
Professor Tim Key, a representative for non-profit research charity Cancer Research UK, told the BBC that these new developments are even more proof that home cooks should increase vegetable consumption—especially if they're battling poor gut health.
"This study in mice suggests that it's not just the fibre contained in vegetables like broccoli and cabbage that help reduce the risk of bowel cancer, but also molecules found in these vegetables too," Key told BBC News. "Further studies will help find out whether the molecules in these vegetables have the same effect in people, but in the meantime there are already plenty of good reasons to eat more vegetables."
5 Cancer Fighting Vegetables You Should Be Eating
These days it seems that so many friends and loved ones are being diagnosed with cancer. Friends of all ages, of all health statuses, with all different kinds of cancer at all different stages. It is important to live a healthy life with a balanced diet and active lifestyle to maintain optimal health. When it comes to diet, we all know we should be eating a lot of vegetables, but there are certain kinds of vegetables that are actually known to fight cancer, in addition to providing numerous other health benefits. Add these five cancer fighting vegetables to a healthy diet and feel great while fighting off illness and disease
- Tomatoes are not only delicious but nutritious! They offer a number of health benefits and should be a staple of anyone’s diet. Better Homes and Gardens describes the cancer fighting benefits of tomatoes, “This fruit/vegetable is the epitome of a cancer-fighting superfood. Not only do tomatoes contain lycopene, the antioxidant phytochemical that also helps prevent heart disease, but they’re a good source of vitamins A, C, and E — all enemies of cancer-friendly free radicals. Pile tomatoes, spinach, and peppers on top of ready-made pizza dough and top with tomato sauce and part-skim mozzarella. Pop some cherry tomatoes into your romaine lettuce salad. Stuff your sandwiches with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, and alfalfa sprouts or shredded broccoli. However you do it, find a way to add tomatoes to your daily diet.”
- Broccoli can be prepared a number of healthy and delicious ways. It can be a great addition to a main course, a wonderful side dish, or a delicious and quick snack. Health describes how broccoli is a wonderful addition to your arsenal of cancer fighting foods, “All cruciferous veggies (think cauliflower, cabbage, kale) contain cancer-fighting properties, but broccoli is the only one with a sizable amount of sulforaphane, a particularly potent compound that boosts the body’s protective enzymes and flushes out cancer-causing chemicals, says Jed Fahey, ScD. A recent University of Michigan study on mice found that sulforaphane also targets cancer stem cells—those that aid in tumor growth. “
- Kale is all the rage in the culinary world. It seems like every restaurant now has a kale salad on their menu or a kale side dish. Kale has a robust flavor and if you want to bring a touch of this restaurant trend to your home cooking menu, it will be a delicious addition. But, not only will it be delicious, it will help keep your body healthy, supply necessary nutrients, and help you fight cancer. Kale is another cruciferous vegetable and has a high concentration of Vitamin C and Vitamin K. Research has shown it to be a powerful soldier against prostate and colon cancer, lung cancer and breast cancer.
- Carrots are adored by kids and adults alike. There are so many different ways to eat carrots that anyone can find a preparation they like. WebMD discusses the cancer fighting abilities of carrots, “One of the easiest vegetables to love, carrots are packed with disease-fighting nutrients. They contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant scientists believe may protect cell membranes from toxin damage and slow the growth of cancer cells. And carrots deliver other vitamins and phytochemicals that might guard against cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. Some studies suggest carrots protect against cervical cancer, perhaps because they supply antioxidants that could battle HPV (human papilloma virus), the major cause of cervical cancer. Plus, carrots contain falcarinol, a natural pesticide. Scientists in England found that rats given falcarinol were less likely to develop cancerous tumors. Cooked carrots supply more antioxidants than raw, according to a report in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. If you’re cooking carrots, leave them whole while steaming or boiling, and cut them after they’re done. That reduces the loss of nutrients, including falcarinol, and gives them a sweeter taste as well.”
- Cabbage is a staple of various different ethnic cuisines but may not be as widely used by others. But, that does not mean it shouldn’t be used! Not only are there a myriad of tasty recipes to cook with cabbage, but it will help fight off cancer in our bodies. Cabbage has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, colon and rectal cancer. It should be minimally cooked or eaten completely raw to reap the full benefits of its cancer fighting properties.
- For hard, painful breasts in breast-feeding women: Sometimes cabbage leaves are prepared by stripping out the large vein of the cabbage leaf and cutting a hole for the nipple. Cabbage leaves are rinsed and chilled. The chilled cabbage leaf is worn inside the bra or as a compress under a cool towel until the cabbage leaf reaches body temperature (usually 20-30 minutes). This procedure is repeated 1-4 times daily for 1-3 days.
The more naturally colorful your diet is, the more likely it is to have an abundance of cancer-fighting compounds. The pigments that give fruits and vegetables their bright colors—like beta-carotene in sweet potatoes or lycopene in tomatoes—can help reduce cancer risk. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and cabbage, have been linked to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, lung, and stomach cancers, while carotenoid-rich vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, have been associated with a reduced risk for breast cancer.
Soy products have been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer and a reduced risk of recurrence and mortality for women who have been previously treated for breast cancer. Research in Shanghai shows that women with breast cancer who consume 11 grams of soy protein each day can reduce mortality and risk of recurrence by about 30 percent. U.S. populations show similar findings: The higher the isoflavone intake from soy products, the less risk of mortality and recurrence in women with breast cancer.
You'll get tons of vitamins and minerals if you eat kale every day
Vitamins and minerals are a substances that our bodies must get in order to develop healthily and function normally, according to the National Institutes of Health. So if you're interested in making sure that you ingest those vital building blocks into your system via your daily diet, kale's an excellent way to do it, as noted by registered dietitian Kylie Ivanir. "Kale, along with other dark leafy greens, is packed with vitamins and minerals," she shared with The List. "Compared to other veggies, you get the most bang for your buck in terms of nutrient density."
So what exactly does kale contain that your body requires? "It has vitamins K, C, and B, manganese, calcium, copper, potassium, and magnesium, and iron," she continued. "So if you like to be efficient with your nutrition, kale is a winner!" No wonder they call kale a superfood! Doesn't sound like a bad idea to eat kale every day, does it?
The higher your colorectal cancer risk, the more you can do about it
The UK Biobank is a large, ongoing, long-term study in the UK that aims to investigate the roles genes and environmental factors play in disease.
In April, researchers from the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee published a study that analyzed data from more than 120,000 participants in the UK Biobank and found something rather astonishing.
Among people with a high genetic risk of developing colorectal cancer, a healthy lifestyle was associated with a nearly 40 percent reduction in their risk of developing the disease.
What’s astonishing is that, by comparison, people with no genetic risk can only hope to lower their risk by 25 percent with lifestyle changes.
What lifestyle factors were measured? Lifestyle scores for unhealthy, intermediate and healthy people were determined according to waist-to-hip ratio, physical activity, sedentary time, processed and red meat intake, vegetable and fruit intake, alcohol consumption and tobacco use. These scores were compared with risk scores for genetic colorectal cancer.
The research found that people with high genetic risk and an unhealthy lifestyle are more than three times as likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer than those with low genetic risk and a healthy lifestyle.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
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Green cabbage contains 5.8 grams of fiber per 1-cup serving, reports Michigan State University. The insoluble fiber in cabbage increases the movement of waste in your digestive tract. Eating too much fiber can contribute to symptoms of diarrhea or block your intestines. Additionally, individuals undergoing cancer treatment may need to avoid eating cabbage, as this vegetable can exacerbate diarrhea often caused by chemotherapy. Consult your treating physician about cabbage consumption if you are undergoing this type of treatment.
Cabbage contains high amounts of vitamin K, a vitamin that helps your blood clot. Eating too much cabbage can interfere with blood-thinning medications, but a 2-cup serving of green cabbage should assist in providing the desired amount of vitamin K without inducing negative effects. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin K is 120 micrograms for males and 90 micrograms for females, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center. One cup of green cabbage contains 53 micrograms of vitamin K, while the same serving of red cabbage contains 34 micrograms. According to the University of Michigan Health System, consuming a consistent quantity of foods high in vitamin K and limiting your vitamin K intake to the recommended daily allowance can assist in preventing harmful interactions. Consult your physician about consuming vitamin K foods if you are taking a blood-thinning medication.
(1) May Cause Dry Mouth And Dehydration
The diuretic properties of kale increase urination frequency to help with the detoxification.
During urination we not only lose toxins and impurities but also lose plenty of water, thereby increasing the risk of dehydration and dry mouth.
Rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, sunken eyes, dry skin, and drowsiness, etc are some common symptoms of severe dehydration.
Our vital organs like the liver, kidneys, digestive system and brain, etc need water to help perform various biological functions associated with them.
Water is important for our health, and our body is made up of about 70 percent water. In some vital organs like the liver and kidneys, this percentage is as high as 83 percent and 79 percent respectively. Our bones also contain water.
To avoid excessive water loss through urination, eat diuretic foods such as kale in moderation.
(2) Too Much Dietary Fiber Is Bad For Stomach
When consumed in moderation, dietary fibers in kale improves digestive health and keeps our stomach healthy.
Their laxative properties improve bowel movement and aids in the efficient elimination of stool from the body.
This relieves constipation and other digestive problems like abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, and flatulence.
Dietary fibers also aid in regulating cholesterol, regulating sugar, and promoting weight loss.
However, excessive dietary fibers should be avoided as they may cause malabsorption and digestive issues like indigestion, intestinal gas, and intestinal bloating.
Excessive intake of dietary fibers without drinking plenty of water may cause dehydration, and also increase the risk of constipation.
(3) May Develop Allergic Reactions In Some Individuals
Vital nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fibers in kale provide several health and beauty benefits.
However, if you are allergic to cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and asparagus, etc, then you are likely to be allergic to kale and should avoid this vegetable.
Swollen eyes, runny nose, itchy throat, itchiness in eyes, skin rashes, nausea, and dizziness are some common symptoms of kale allergy.
If you are experience any such symptom after eating kale then discontinue the consumption and consult a doctor.
(4) Not So Good For Pregnant And Nursing Women
Essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fibers in Kale are good for pregnant and lactating women.
Antioxidants and relevant compounds protect the mother and the fetus growing in her womb from free radical damage.
Folate or folic acid in kale improves brain development in babies and protects them from neural tube defects like spina bifida.
Other nutrients like zinc, iron, selenium, and magnesium, etc in kale also promote a healthy pregnancy.
Dietary fibers in kale promote digestive health.
However, excessive dietary fibers may cause stomach discomfort and digestive issues like abdominal pain, bloating, intestinal gas, etc in infants and mothers.
So, eat kale in moderation and after consulting with your doctor.
(5) Too Many Antioxidants Are Bad For Our Health
Kale is loaded with antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K, and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients and polyphenols that are good for us.
Antioxidants and other relevant compounds in kale protect our cells and tissues from the oxidative stress of the free radicals and minimizes the risk of various cancers.
It also provides other benefits such as helps with detoxification, improves cardiovascular health, strengthens immunity, and improves cognitive functions.
However, in large quantities antioxidants may do more harm than good.
As per a study published by the Journal of the Cancer Institute, smokers who took large doses of beta carotene supplements were at higher risk of developing lung cancer in comparison to others who didn’t.
Another study conducted by the office of dietary supplements states that in large doses vitamin E may increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
In large quantities, antioxidants not only target the cancer cells but also the healthy cells around them.
This causes oxidative damage to healthy cells and tissues and increases the risk of various cancers.
(6) May Increase The Risk Of Hypoglycemia
Kale is good for people with diabetes because of its low glycemic index and dietary fibers.
With a glycemic index of 15, kale releases sugar into the bloodstream at a slow pace, prevents sudden spikes in blood sugar levels, and aids in managing diabetes.
Dietary fibers in kale slow down the absorption of sugar by the bloodstream and regulate blood sugar levels.
Excessive intake of kale may drop blood sugar levels to an abnormally low level and increase the risk of hypoglycemia.
If you are on diabetic medication, consult your doctor before adding kale to your diet to avoid food-drug interference.
To stay safe, eat kale in moderation.
(7) May Cause Hypotension
The vasodilating properties of potassium, a vital mineral in kale relaxes our blood vessels, improves blood circulation, and relieves hypertension or high blood pressure.
By managing blood pressure it reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attack, heart stroke, and irregular heartbeat, etc.
However, in large quantities potassium may drop blood pressure to an abnormally low level giving rise to hypotension or low blood pressure.
Fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, clammy skin, depression, and blurry vision, etc are some common symptoms of hypotension.
Eat kale in moderation to avoid the risk.
Also, eating kale while being on blood pressure medication should be done only after consulting with a doctor to avoid possible food-drug interference.
The information contained in the post is for general purposes only and shouldn’t be considered as medical advice or as an alternative to medical advice. Although I’ve tried my best to keep the information contained in this post as accurate and updated as possible, I make no guarantee of the accurateness of the same.
DO WALNUTS PREVENT HEART DISEASE AND BOWEL CANCER?
A handful of walnuts a day may prevent heart disease and bowel cancer, research suggested in May 2018.
Eating just a third of a cup of walnuts for six weeks significantly reduces the production of excess bile acids, as well as lowering 'bad' cholesterol levels, a study found.
Previous research has linked such bile acids to bowel cancer, while lower cholesterol levels are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
Researchers believe walnuts' high-fibre content encourages the growth of 'good' bacteria in the gut, which benefits people's heart and colon health.
The scientists also found that despite walnuts being relatively high in calories, with around 28 per nut, only 80 per cent of them are absorbed, with gut bacteria using up the remaining 20 per cent.
Results further suggest people who eat a handful of walnuts a day produce less secondary bile acids, which are made in the bowel rather than the liver like their primary counterparts.
Lead author Professor Hannah Holscher, from the University of Illinois, said: 'Secondary bile acids have been shown to be higher in individuals with higher rates of colorectal cancer.
'Secondary bile acids can be damaging to cells within the GI tract and microbes make those secondary bile acids.
'If we can reduce secondary bile acids in the gut, it may also help with human health.'
Green vegetables reduce tumours in cancer sufferers
The researchers analysed genetically modified mice that could not produce or activate AhR in their guts.
The rodents developed gut inflammation that progressed to bowel cancer.
Yet, the animals fed a diet rich in green vegetables developed neither inflammation nor cancer.
Lead author Dr Amina Metidji said: 'Interestingly, when mice whose cancer was already developing were switched to the [green vegetable]-enriched diet, they ended up with significantly fewer tumours which were also more benign.'
'It's not just fibre in vegetables that reduces the risk of bowel cancer'
Professor Tim Key, from Cancer Research UK, who was not involved in the research, said: 'This study suggests it's not just the fibre in vegetables like broccoli and cabbage that help reduce the risk of bowel cancer, but also molecules found in these vegetables too.
'This adds to the evidence that a healthy diet, rich in vegetables, is important.'
Dr Stockinger added: 'We often think of colon cancer as a disease promoted by a Western diet rich in fat and poor in vegetable content, and our results suggest a mechanism behind this observation.
'Many vegetables produce chemicals that keep AhR stimulated in the gut. We found that AhR-promoting chemicals in the diet can correct defects caused by insufficient AhR stimulation.
'This can restore cell differentiation, offering resistance to intestinal infections and preventing colon cancer.'
The researchers hope to analyse the effects of green vegetables on human colon cells in the lab and eventually in people.
Dr Stockinger added: 'There is very little literature on which vegetables are the most beneficial or why.
'Now that we've demonstrated the mechanistic basis for this in mice, we're going to investigate these effects in human cells and people. In the meantime, there's certainly no harm in eating more vegetables!'
Broccoli and Cancer Prevention Is Not a Myth
The development of cancer in the human body is a long-term event that begins at the cellular level with an abnormality that is typically diagnosed 10 to 20 years later. Research continues at a furious pace to find ways to cure this deadly disease, the greatest killer of Americans after heart disease.
But here’s what you need to know: Most scientists have concluded that cancer might well be more easily prevented than cured. We also know that a typical Western diet plays a major role in the development of cancers, and that at least 30 percent of all cancers are believed to have a dietary component.
In short, diet is the best tool we have to protect ourselves from developing cancer.
Population studies first pointed to the role that broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables might play in cancer prevention. One 10-year study of 47,909 men, published by the Harvard School of Public Health, showed an inverse relationship between the consumption of cruciferous vegetables and the development of bladder cancer.
So, does broccoli prevent cancer? Yes: Broccoli and cabbage seemed to provide the greatest protection. Countless studies since then have confirmed these findings. As long ago as 1982, the National Research Council on Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer found that “there is sufficient epidemiological evidence to suggest that consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a reduction in cancer.”
A meta-analysis, which reviewed the results of 87 case-controlled studies, confirmed once again that broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables lower the risk of cancer. As little as 10 grams a day of crucifers (less than 1/8 cup of chopped raw cabbage or chopped raw broccoli) can have a significant effect on your risk for developing cancer.
Think of eating broccoli or its sidekicks as getting a natural dose of chemoprevention. One study showed that eating about two servings a day of crucifers may result in as much as a 50 percent reduction in the risk for certain types of cancers. Broccoli is the vegetable with the strongest inverse association with colon cancer too, especially in those younger than 65 and with a history of smoking. If you’ve ever smoked, eat your broccoli!
While all crucifers seem to be effective in fighting cancer, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts seem to be the most powerful. Just 1/2 cup of broccoli a day protects from a number of cancers, particularly cancers of the lung, stomach, colon and rectum. No wonder broccoli is number one on the National Cancer Institute’s list of nutrition all-stars.
The sulfur compounds in cruciferous vegetables are a major reason these foods are such powerful chemopreventive foods. The strong smell that broccoli, cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables share comes from the sulfur compounds that protect the plant as well as you. The strong, sometimes bitter taste and smell of these vegetables protect them from insects and animals.
The particular compounds in broccoli that are so effective against cancer include the phytochemicals, sulforaphane, and the indoles. Sulforaphane is a remarkably potent compound that fights cancer on various fronts. It increases the enzymes that help rid the body of carcinogens and actually kills abnormal cells. At the cellular level, it also helps the body limit oxidation—the process that initiates many chronic diseases. Indoles work to combat cancer through their effect on estrogen. They block estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells, inhibiting the growth of estrogen-sensitive cancers. The most important indole in broccoli—indole-3-carbinol, or I3C—is thought to be an especially effective breast-cancer preventive agent.
In a study at the Institute for Hormone Research in New York, 60 women were divided into groups, some eating a high I3C diet containing 400 milligrams of I3C daily, another eating a high-fiber diet, and yet a third control group on a placebo diet. The women consuming the high I3C diet showed significantly higher levels of a cancer-preventive form of estrogen. The other diets showed no increase in this substance.