We all have
a love of the microbiome
by now, right? After all, these little critters seem to have incredible
superpowers in modulating our health. A healthy bug population in our insides (and
outside) plays a role in favorably modulating our mood, quieting inflammation,
balancing our immune response, assisting in assimilation, impacting our weight,
and aiding our digestive woes… amongst many other functions.
of the major ways we can ensure a healthy critter habitat in our bellies is our
diet. In fact, a recent study hinted that the beneficial effect of the Mediterranean
diet may in fact be a side-effect of the beneficial amount of belly-bug food it
has. It’s the ever important substance of fiber which produces short chain
fatty acids, which may be the link between benefits of various healthy diets
and bug happiness.
to Health Day:
studies have extolled the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Now,
research suggests the regimen may also boost levels of beneficial fatty acids.
so-called “short chain fatty acids” are produced by bacteria in the
intestine during fermentation of insoluble fiber from fruits, vegetables and
legumes. The fatty acids are believed to provide a number of health benefits,
including a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease and inflammatory diseases, an
Italian team reports in the Sept. 29 issue of the journal Gut.
does this have to do with prunes? According to Dr. Mercola, dried plums may be a good
source of bug food and modulate colon cancer risk due to their beneficial
compounds. He states:
plums are rich in potassium, fiber, and phytochemicals, including antioxidants,
all of which may help lower your risk of chronic disease. However, it’s dried
plums’ influence on the bacteria in your colon that may be most impressive of
animal study, researchers fed rats either a diet containing dried plums or a
control diet (the same as the first diet but without the plums). Those fed the
dried plums had significant increases in the number of bacteria in the gut
known as Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes.
on the dried-plum diet also had reduced numbers of aberrant crypts, which are
signs of precancerous lesions that may be an indicator for future cancer
development. Study author Dr. Nancy Turner explained:4
“From this study we were able to
conclude that dried plums did, in fact, appear to promote retention of
beneficial microbiota and microbial metabolism throughout the colon, which was
associated with a reduced incidence of precancerous lesions.”
study similarly revealed that dried plums “favorably altered… colon cancer risk
factors” in rats, possibly due to their high content of dietary fiber and
studies have also reported beneficial effects of prunes on health, specifically
in relationship to their nutrient content and phenolics. In a 2001 literature
review, the authors further highlighted the many benefits of dried plums, including
their gut-supporting fiber content, heart healthy phenolics, and boron content
for bone health:
dried plums, fruits of Prunus domestica L., cultivated and propagated since
ancient times. Most dried prunes are produced from cultivar d’Agen, especially
in California and France, where the cultivar originated. After harvest,
prune-making plums are dehydrated in hot air at 85 to 90 degrees C for 18 h,
then further processed into prune juice, puree, or other prune products. This
extensive literature review summarizes the current knowledge of chemical
composition of prunes and their biological effects on human health. Because of
their sweet flavor and well-known mild laxative effect, prunes are considered
to be an epitome of functional foods, but the understanding of their mode of
action is still unclear. Dried prunes contain approximately 6.1 g of dietary
fiber per 100 g, while prune juice is devoid of fiber due to filtration before
bottling. The laxative action of both prune and prune juice could be explained
by their high sorbitol content (14.7 and 6.1 g/100 g, respectively). Prunes are
good source of energy in the form of simple sugars, but do not mediate a rapid
rise in blood sugar concentration, possibly because of high fiber, fructose,
and sorbitol content. Prunes contain large amounts of phenolic compounds (184
mg/100 g), mainly as neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids, which may aid in the
laxative action and delay glucose absorption. Phenolic compounds in prunes had
been found to inhibit human LDL oxidation in vitro, and thus might serve as
preventive agents against chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
Additionally, high potassium content of prunes (745 mg/100 g) might be beneficial
for cardiovascular health. Dried prunes are an important source of boron, which
is postulated to play a role in prevention of osteoporosis. A serving of prunes
(100 g) fulfills the daily requirement for boron (2 to 3 mg). More research is
needed to assess the levels of carotenoids and other phytochemicals present in
prunes to ensure correct labeling and accuracy of food composition tables in
order to support dietary recommendations or health claims.
Another study in 2013 also reported on the benefits
of various bioactive compounds, nutrients, and resulting satiety. This study
also mentions the phenolic compounds that may modulate gastrointestinal health.
Its abstract reads:
describes composition of dried plums and their products (prune juice and dried
plum powder) with special attention to possibly bioactive compounds. Dried
plums contain significant amounts of sorbitol, quinic acid, chlorogenic acids,
vitamin K1, boron, copper, and potassium. Synergistic action of these and other
compounds, which are also present in dried plums in less conspicuous amounts,
may have beneficial health effects when dried plums are regularly consumed.
Snacking on dried plums may increase satiety and reduce the subsequent intake
of food, helping to control obesity, diabetes, and related cardiovascular
diseases. Despite their sweet taste, dried plums do not cause large
postprandial rise in blood glucose and insulin. Direct effects in the
gastrointestinal tract include prevention of constipation and possibly colon
cancer. The characteristic phenolic compounds and their metabolites may also
act as antibacterial agents in both gastrointestinal and urinary tracts. The
indirect salutary effects on bone turnover are supported by numerous laboratory
studies with animals and cell cultures. Further investigation of phenolic
compounds in dried plums, particularly of high molecular weight polymers, their
metabolism and biological actions, alone and in synergy with other dried plum
constituents, is necessary to elucidate the observed health effects and to
indicate other benefits.
along with your apple and broccoli, you may want to add a prune or two to your
Don’t Forget Phenolic-Loving Essential Oils
you know what other health tool I love has phenolics that can modulate gut
microbiome health? Essential oils!
I’m doing an essential oil webinar/teleseminar on October 28th. If you are
interested, make sure you are on my essential oil blog
newsletter list so you can receive the log-in information within the next
Day. More Evidence High-Fiber, Mediterranean Diet Is Good for You. September
J. Dried Plums Could Lower Risk for Colon Cancer. Mercola.com. October 12, 2015.
M, Bowen PE, Hussain EA, Damayanti-Wood BI, Farnsworth NR. Chemical composition
and potential health effects of prunes: a functional food? Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2001 May;41(4):251-86.
Y, Gallaher DD. Effect of dried plums on colon cancer risk factors in rats. Nutr Cancer. 2005;53(1):117-25.
Stacewicz-Sapuntzakis M. Dried plums and their products:
composition and health effects–an updated review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(12):1277-302.
J. Dried Fruit vs. Fresh Fruit: Why Eating Dried Plums (Prunes) Can Lower
Your Risk For Colon Cancer. Medical
Daily. September 29, 2015.