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The Answer to a Colon Cancer Mystery

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Colorectal most cancers is the third most typical explanation for most cancers dying on this planet. Thankfully, the nice micro organism in our intestine take the fiber we eat and make short-chain fatty acids, like butyrate, that defend us from most cancers. We take care of them, they usually take care of us. If we do nothing to colon most cancers cells, they develop. That’s what most cancers does. But if we expose the colon most cancers cells to the focus of butyrate our good micro organism make in our intestine once we eat fiber, the expansion is stopped in its tracks. If, nonetheless, the butyrate stops, if we eat healthy for under sooner or later after which flip off the fiber the subsequent, the most cancers can resume its progress. So, ideally, we’ve got to eat a lot of fiber-rich meals—which means entire plant meals—day-after-day.

What in regards to the populations, like these in trendy sub-Saharan Africa, the place they don’t eat a lot of fiber but nonetheless hardly ever get colon most cancers? Traditionally, they used to eat a lot of fiber, however now their food plan is centered round extremely refined corn meal, which is low in fiber—but they nonetheless have low colon most cancers charges. Why? This was defined by the truth that whereas they could be missing protecting components like fiber, they’re additionally missing cancer-promoting components like animal protein and fats. But are they actually missing protecting components?

If you measure the pH of their stools, the black populations in South Africa have decrease pH, which implies extra acidic stools, regardless of comparable fiber intakes. That’s a good factor and should account for the decrease most cancers charges. But, wait a second. Low colon pH is brought on by short-chain fatty acids, that are produced by our good micro organism after they eat fiber, however they weren’t eating any extra fiber, suggesting there was one thing else as well as to fiber of their diets that was feeding their flora. And, certainly, regardless of low fiber consumption, the micro organism of their colon have been nonetheless churning out short-chain fatty acids like loopy. But if their micro organism weren’t eating fiber, what have been they eating? Resistant starch. “[T]he method of cooking and eating the maize [corn] meal as a porridge results in an increase in resistant starch, which acts in the same way as fiber in the colon,” as a prebiotic, a food for our good micro organism to produce the identical cancer-preventing, short-chain fatty acids.

As I talk about in my video Resistant Starch and Colon Cancer, “[r]esistant starch is any starch…that is not digested and absorbed in the upper digestive tract [our small intestine] and, so, passes into the large bowel,” our colon, to feed our good micro organism. When you boil starches after which allow them to cool, a number of the starch can recrystallize into a type resistant to our digestive enzymes. So, we are able to get resistant starch eating cooled starches, corresponding to pasta salad, potato salad, or chilly cornmeal porridge. “This may explain the striking differences in colon cancer rates.” Thus, they have been feeding their good micro organism in any case, however simply with a number of starch quite than fiber. “Consequently, a high carbohydrate diet may act in the same way as a high fiber diet.” Because a small fraction of the carbs make it down to our colon, the extra carbs we eat, the extra butyrate our intestine micro organism can produce.

Indeed, nations the place individuals eat probably the most starch have a number of the lowest colon most cancers charges, so fiber might not be the one protecting issue. Only about 5 p.c of starch might attain the colon, in contrast to 100 p.c of the fiber, however we eat up to ten occasions extra starch than fiber, so it may possibly doubtlessly play a important position feeding our flora.

So, the safety Africans get pleasure from from most cancers could also be two-fold: a food plan excessive in resistant starch and low in animal merchandise. Just eating extra resistant starch isn’t sufficient. Meat comprises or contributes to the manufacturing of presumed carcinogens, corresponding to N-nitroso compounds. A examine divided individuals into three teams: one was on a low-meat food plan, the second was on a high-meat food plan together with beef, pork, and poultry, and the third group was on the identical high-meat food plan however with the addition of a number of resistant starch. The high-meat teams had thrice extra of those presumptive carcinogens and twice the ammonia of their stool than the low-meat group, and the addition of the resistant starch didn’t appear to assist. This confirms that “exposure to these compounds is increased with meat intake,” and 90 p.c are created in our bowel. So, it doesn’t matter if we get nitrite-free, uncured recent meat; these nitrosamines are created from the meat because it sits in our colon. This “may help explain the higher incidence of large bowel cancer in meat-eating populations,” together with the rise in ammonia—neither of which may very well be helped by simply including resistant starch on prime of the meat.

“[T]he deleterious effects of animal products on colonic metabolism override the potentially beneficial effects of other protective nutrients.” So, we must always do a mixture of much less meat and extra entire plant meals, together with exercise, not just for our colon, but in addition for normal health.


This is a follow-up to my video Is the Fiber Theory Wrong?.

What precisely is butyrate? See:

For movies on optimizing your intestine flora, see:

Interested in additional on stopping colon most cancers? See:

If you’re eating healthfully, do you want a colonoscopy? Find out in Should We All Get Colonoscopies Starting at Age 50?.

When common starches are cooked after which cooled, a number of the starch recrystallizes into resistant starch. For this cause, pasta salad will be more healthy than scorching pasta, and potato salad will be more healthy than a baked potato. Find out extra in my video Getting Starch to Take the Path of Most Resistance.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t but, you possibly can subscribe to my free movies right here and watch my stay, year-in-review displays:

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