A new study using rat model has shown that regular consumption of dried plums may help decrease colon cancer risk by maintaining a healthy gut flora.
The intestine contains millions of bacteria that are necessary for prevention and treatment of disease. Recent studies have also revealed that gut bacteria may be helpful in obtaining weight loss.
Texas A&M University-College Station, along with the University of North Carolina, had come up with a study to learn how dried plums may impact the body's microbiome. The California Dried Plum Board funded the study.
For the research, the team worked on lab rats, which were divided into groups: those that consumed a control diet and rats that ate a diet with dried plums. To ensure that diet effects are unique only to dried plums, the rats were provided with food of the same calories and composition of macronutrients.
By analyzing the different sections of the colon tissue samples from these rats, they discovered that in the distal colon, there's an increased number of two bacteria phyla, namely, Firmicutes and Bacteriodetes, among those that consumed dried plums. Those who didn't had a lower proportion of these phyla bacteria in the same section of the colon.
Further, and perhaps the more important discovery, is that rats that consumed dried plums had lower number of aberrant crypts and aberrant crypts foci, which, according to the researchers, are the earliest signs of precancerous lesions. If these are not promptly managed, they can turn to colon cancer.
According to the researchers, the phenolic compounds of the dried plums may have contributed to the positive results. These compounds have antioxidant properties that neutralize the impact of free radicals including cellular damage as well as maintain healthy gut bacteria.
Although more studies have to be performed including using human models, this research may imply that adding dried plums to the regular diet may be a good way to manage colon cancer risk.