Forget Colon Health Pills, Eat More of This To Protect Colon From Health Problems


2016-06-07 10:13

Are you eating more nuts and seeds lately for heart health? Then you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that certain nuts are also good for your digestive health as well and may protect your colon from health problems.

Researchers at UConn Health have found that eating walnuts may create a change in gut bacteria in a way that could suppress colon cancer. The animal study, published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, found that mice that were fed walnuts – a the human equivalent of eating about an ounce per day - had up to 2.3 times fewer tumors.

Walnuts have long been known for their heart-health benefits, primarily due to their high omega-3 fatty acid content. They also are a good source of vitamin E, which has anti-cancer properties.

However, in this study, a new dietary benefit was found by studying the bacteria that live in the digestive tract. Researchers believe that some of this gut bacteria digest the fiber we eat and produce anti-inflammatory compounds that may reduce tumor initiation.

"Our results show for the first time that walnut consumption may reduce colon tumor development," said Principal Investigator Dr. Daniel W. Rosenberg. "There is accumulating evidence that eating walnuts may offer a variety of benefits related to health issues like cancer. This study shows that walnuts may also act as a probiotic to make the colon healthy, which in turn offers protection against colon tumors."

Colon cancer is currently the third most common cancer in the world. Thankfully, it is potentially one of the most preventable with a few lifestyle changes, such as improving the diet, getting more exercise, and losing excess body weight.

Walnuts are a delicious way to add extra nutrition, flavor and crunch to a meal. While walnuts are harvested in December, they are available year-round in the US.

Here are some easy ways to add more walnuts to your diet today:
• Mix crushed walnuts into plain yogurt and top with maple syrup.
• Add walnuts to salads or healthy sautéed vegetables.
• Purée walnuts, cooked lentils and your favorite herbs and spices in a food processor. Add enough olive or flax oil so that it achieves a dip-like consistency.
• Add walnuts to your favorite poultry stuffing recipe.
• To roast walnuts at home, do so gently—in a 160-170°F (about 75°C) oven for 15-20 minutes—to preserve the healthy oils. For more on the effect of high heat roasting on nuts, please see the following article.
• Make homemade walnut granola: Mix together approximately 1/2 cup of honey, 3 to 4 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses, a tablespoon of vanilla, a dash of salt, and a teaspoon each of your favorite spices, such as cinnamon, ginger and/or nutmeg. Place 6-8 cups of rolled oats in a large bowl and toss to coat with the honey-blackstrap mixture. Then spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 275°F (135°C) for 45 minutes. Cool and mix in 1/2 to 1 cup of walnuts.

Journal Reference:
M. Nakanishi, Y. Chen, V. Qendro, S. Miyamoto, E. Weinstock, G. M. Weinstock, D. W. Rosenberg. Effects of walnut consumption on colon carcinogenesis and microbial community structure. Cancer Prevention Research, 2016; DOI: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-16-0026

Additional Reference:
World’s Healthiest Foods

Photo Credit:
By Nillerdk - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4190286