Diet Swap Alters Gut Bacteria, Signs of Colon Cancer Risk

What you eat can play a big role in preventing colorectal cancer, with research showing that fiber-filled foods lower risk; red and processed meats increase it. Now a study hones in on how diet can affect risk, showing that swapping a high-fiber healthy diet for a low-fiber western-style diet alters gut bacteria and signs of inflammation that may play a role in colon cancer.Choice between healthy apple and unhealthy hamburger

The study is published in Nature Communications and it adds to a growing body of research on how our bacteria – our microbiota – play a role in cancer risk.

For the study, researchers flipped the diets of 20 African Americans and 20 South Africans for two weeks. All the participants had colonoscopy exams before and after the diet swap.
The Americans were served African-style foods, almost quadrupling their fiber intake to an amount equal to over 3.5 cups of beans. At the same time, they cut their calories from fat in half. Africans went the opposite direction, dramatically cutting their fiber and upping their fat intake.

After two weeks on the African diet, the Americans had less markers of inflammation in the colon while those same markers increased among the Africans eating the less healthy diet. There were also opposing increases and decreases of the compound  butyrate, which forms from digesting fiber and is linked to lowering colon cancer risk. The American group was producing more butyrate; the Africans on the American diet less. Continue reading


Study: Carotenoids Lower Risk of Breast Cancer, Recurrence

Having plenty of tomatoes, carrots and other foods high in carotenoids may reduce the risk of breast cancer, especially the most deadly types, suggests a new study that spanned 20 years. The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adds to a growing body of research on carotenoids, diet and breast cancer risk.17539703_s

Carotenoids are a large group of phytochemicals that you can spot in many red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene and lycopene, found in carrots and tomatoes to name a few foods, are a couple of the more well-known carotenoids. They’re also in dark green vegetables, such as kale and spinach.

Previous studies on carotenoids and breast cancer have been mixed. This study builds on research by the same group suggesting that carotenoids affect different types of breast tumors. We wrote about that here.

As in their previous study, the researchers used blood levels of carotenoids to measure intake. Back in 1989-90, they collected blood samples from almost 33,000 women who were part of the Nurses Health Study. Ten years later they collected another sample, with slightly less than half of the women participating again. All the women were regularly answering questionnaires about their health, weight, diet and other factors. Continue reading


Yummy, Healthy Singapore Noodles

singapore-noodlesYou’ll find curries in Indian restaurants and noodles in Chinese restaurants, but you may not find curried noodles unless there’s a Malaysian place in your neighborhood. If not, we offer AICR’s healthy version of Singapore Noodles, a dish that blends Chinese, Indian and Malay influences in a cancer-fighting dish using whole-grain brown rice noodles.

Like Singapore, an island nation that grew up as a multicultural trading post in the Southeast Asia next door to Indonesia, Singapore Noodles is a mixture of diverse ingredients. Vegetables, rice vermicelli, shrimp, egg and chicken are sautéed with curry powder. Curry itself is yet another mixture of spices ranging from ginger and turmeric to pepper and cardamom. In this recipe, we add a little more turmeric, a mild-tasting spice that is related to ginger. Both are anti-inflammatory spices that studies indicate may help to reduce cancer risk.

The health-protecting spicy red onion, bell peppers, scallions and cabbage are commonly used in Singapore Noodles. Adding egg to stir-fries is also a feature of Malaysian and Indonesian cooking. To include the egg’s bit of saturated fat, we’ve changed the traditional bits of pork (a red meat) in this dish to chicken or turkey breast and used a few small shrimp to produce an authentic flavor. A touch of sesame oil at the end makes it perfect and still lower in fat than you’d find this dish to be in most restaurants.

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