(NaturalNews) Considered a nutritional buzzword among the health-conscious crowd, probiotics are well-known as an important addition to the diet for maintaining digestive balance. And now, researches have discovered these micro-organisms are much more powerful than previously thought by playing a substantial role in discouraging, and also healing, cancer.
Probiotics and health
Present in a wide array of foods like yogurt, cheese, miso, fermented vegetables and pickles, as well as in supplemental form, probiotics are the guardians of health on several levels. Not only do these live microbes populate the gut with beneficial bacteria and off-set problematic pathogens, but also work in tandem with the immune system, giving it a substantial boost. Probiotics reduce inflammation, soothe depression and calm stress response too. But researchers are especially enthusiastic about the latest application for these microscopic beasts: cancer prevention and treatment.
"Consumption of fermented dairy products with LAB [lactic acid bacteria] may elicit anti-tumor effects. These effects are attributed to the inhibition of mutagenic activity, the decrease in several enzymes implicated in the generation of carcinogens, mutagens, or tumor-promoting agents, suppression of tumors, and epidemiology correlating dietary regimes and cancer. ... Studies on the effect of probiotic consumption on cancer appear promising, since recent in vitro and in vivo studies have indicated that probiotic bacteria might reduce the risk, incidence and number of tumors of the colon, liver and bladder."
Moreover, research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that "[i]ngestion of viable probiotics or prebiotics is associated with anti-carcinogenic effects, one mechanism of which is the detoxification of genotoxins in the gut. This mechanism was shown experimentally in animals with use of the rat colon carcinogen 1,2-dimethylhydrazine and by determining endpoints that range from tumorigenesis to induction of DNA damage."
Additionally, when prebiotics (found in foods like Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, root vegetables, asparagus, jicama and leeks) are ingested along with probiotics, the result is a reduced load of genotoxic agents and increased production of protective elements like butyrate -- a short-chain fatty acid that guards against colon cancer.
Lastly, keep in mind the following points made by Vanessa Wada, MS, RD, of Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center:
"Probiotic-containing foods are fairly common in Japan and Europe but are slowly making their way in the United States. There is potential for these microbial creatures in cancer prevention, but further research needs to be conducted. Understanding the use of probiotics as a part of the whole food vs. the isolated product, obtaining a more thorough knowledge of its mechanism in the gut, and identifying the particular strains that have the largest beneficial impact in promoting health will be areas of future research and interest. And as long as these studies continue to provide positive outcomes, incorporating probiotics into the diet is a safe, easy, and cheap way to protect oneself from disease."
About the author: Carolanne believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, she has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of green living for over 13 years. Through her website www.Thrive-Living.net, she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people who share a similar vision.