There are many factors that increase the chance that you will end up with colon cancer … Being overweight… Not getting enough exercise… A family history of the disease… And, yes – getting older.
Some of those things you can control while others you can’t. After all, although we’d all like the power to stop the clock, science just hasn’t come up with a way yet for us to beat time.
However, it has now found a very simple way to beat colon cancer just by making one very easy change to your daily diet.
Stop inflammation and avoid colon cancer
It’s long been thought that increasing the amount of vegetables you eat could help lower your risks of colorectal cancer, and that the reason these foods made the biggest difference was likely because of the amount of fiber they contributed.
But thanks to researchers at the Francis Crick Institute, we know exactly why certain vegetables are cancer-fighting powerhouses…
They have now discovered that the key to stopping colon cancer in its tracks is a diet rich in indole-3-carbinol (I3C) – a compound that’s produced when your body digests vegetables from the Brassica family.
By using mouse models, the scientists were able to figure out that I3C works by activating a protein in your colon called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor or AhR.
When AhR is activated, it signals both your immune cells and the cells lining your colon to stop all inflammatory processes and to repair any cells that were previously damaged.
In fact, AhR is so powerful that when they fed mice a diet enriched with I3C to kick of that AhR, the mice didn’t develop any inflammation or cancer. And, to top it off when they switched mice that already had cancer to the I3C-enriched diet, they ended up with significantly fewer tumors which were also more benign and less deadly.
According to the scientists without the AhR you get from eating that I3C-rich diet, the cells that line your colon divide uncontrollably which can ultimately lead to colon cancer.
Kicking your AhR into gear
So, what veggies are I3C-rich in order to amp up your AhR and ward off colon cancer?
Here’s your list of vegetables from the Brassica family to include in your day-to-day diet:
- Brussel sprouts
- Bok choy
- Collard greens
- Turnips and turnip greens
Other less well-known Brassicas are:
- Napa cabbage
- Broccoli rabe
And, with all of these choices, there are endless ways to add Brassicas to your meals.
Try kale chips for snacks, toss Brussel sprouts into your stir-frys, add fresh broccoli to your salads, or use mashed cauliflower as a healthy substitute for those carb-laden potatoes.
Do remember though that some people can have a hard time digesting Brassicas, ending up with gas and bloating so it’s best to add them slowly and one at a time to your diet.
Still, the process is worth the effort since you’ll not only eating food that’s full of essential vitamins and nutrients like vitamin C and magnesium, you’ll also be decreasing inflammation and boosting your colon health to help avoid cancer.
- Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors — American Cancer Society
- Chemicals found in vegetables prevent colon cancer in mice — The Francis Crick Institute