Walnuts may Improve Colon Health

Walnuts in a Bottle

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Research has been reported that eating walnuts may change gut bacteria that might suppress colon cancer. The researchers led by UConn Health posted their article in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

This research team found that mice that ate 7-10.5% of their total calories as walnuts, developed fewer colon cancers. This was more effective in the male mice that had 2.3 times fewer tumors when fed walnuts as part of a diet similar to the typical American’s. (About an ounce of walnuts a day)

The results of the study show that walnuts may also act as a probiotic to make the colon healthy, and in turn, offers protection against colon tumors. Walnuts have the most polyunsaturated fatty acids of all the tree nuts, as well as the highest ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. They also have a high level of a form of Vitamin E.

There are yet other studies that have shown walnuts have promise warding off diseases connected to diet and lifestyle, which includes heart disease, diabetes and neurological disorders.

The UConn Health team collaborated with Dr. George Weinstock at The Jackson Laboratory and took fecal samples from the mice and analyzed the communities of bacteria living in their digestive tracts. Walnut consumption tended to push the gut microbiome toward an ecology that was potentially protective against cancer. Some research has shown that some gut bacteria digest fiber into compounds with anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce tumor initiation.

More testing needs to be done in humans before walnuts can be unequivocally recommended as a cancer-prevention agent. A nutritionist and surveying human colonoscopy patients are working together about their diets, as part of a longer term study in humans.

This could be the ultimate way to help prevent cancer. Food consumption patterns might help to alleviate patients having to consume harmful drugs. Let’s try doing things the natural way. Everybody loves walnuts, so take a pledge to add them to your diet as a precautionary act. What can it hurt?

-Dr.Fredda Branyon