Fibre reduces the conversion of primary bile acids into secondary bile acids, which are potential cancer promoters. It absorbs more bile acids and dilutes them within a larger stool mass, thus protecting against colon cancer.
With fibre, the bile itself is more soluble and less likely to form gallstones. Similarly, fiber protects against pancreatitis by preventing biliary sludge.
Fibre reduces the absorption of fat in the body and lowers cholesterol levels. It even helps to lower excess oestrogen by speeding up transit time, thus reducing the likelihood that oestrogen will be re-circulated back into the body.
It is an excellent way to test your need for more fibre in the bowel transit time test. Bowel transit time is the time it takes for food to travel through your system, from when you eat it to the time it exits your body.
You need to eat some food that can serve as a marker when it appears in the stool. Fresh corn on the cob is one such food. We digest the starch within the kernels, but not the kernels themselves, which will be visible in the bowel movement when passed.
Simply eat some corn and watch your bowel movements until you see the seeds. That is your bowel transit time. Good transit time is 18 to 24 hours. In the United States, a typical bowel transit time is between two and three days, which is a good indicator of the need for more fibre and water in the diet.
Nutrients and Colon cancer
Fibre isn’t the only thing you eat that affects your risk of colon cancer. A deficiency of some nutrients can also predispose one to colon cancer.
Antioxidants protect against all types of cancer and all of the chronic degenerative diseases that plague many cultures, such as heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. Your first source of antioxidants should be fresh fruits and vegetables. A multivitamin can give you added protection. The most important antioxidants are vitamin C (take 1,000mg daily), vitamin E (400 IU daily), and vitamin A (take 5,000 to 10,000 IU daily).
There are other types of antioxidants found in the bio-flavonoids found in fruits, especially berries and supplements made from grape seed extracts, quercetin, and green tea extracts. Again, these types of supplements, as powerful as they can be, are no substitute for eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Trace Minerals Zinc (10 to 15mg daily) and Selenium (200 micrograms daily) are also potent antioxidants and are essential to the health of the colon.
Studies have repeatedly linked selenium deficiencies to colon cancer. One study showed a 40 percent reduction in new colon cancer cases in populations who took selenium supplements. Onions and garlic are excellent sources of Selenium.
Calcium is another mineral that has a beneficial effect on the colon. It is meant to help prevent colon cancer by binding with bile salts and fatty acids that can damage the colonic epithelium and enhance cell proliferation.
About 300 milligrammes of calcium daily combined with 150mg of magnesium, at least, should confer protection against colon cancer. Milk, while it’s a good source of calcium, should be avoided by adults since it often causes chronic inflammation of the gut that potentially increases the risk of cancer.
Vitamin D is essential to good colon health and sunshine is the best place to get your daily dose.
Folate (folic acid) is a B vitamin that is well known for preventing congenital disabilities, and I recommend it for preventing and treating cervical dysplasia. The Harvard Nurses’ Study showed that women who supplemented with folate long-term have a significantly reduced risk of colon cancer. A right multivitamin will contain 400mcg (micrograms) of folic acid.
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria found in the colon. There are at least 400 species of these “good” bacteria, and hundreds of billions of them live in your large intestine. They keep “bad” bacteria in check and help process waste as it moves through the large intestine.
A lack of probiotics, usually caused by taking antibiotics that indiscriminately kill off useful and harmful bacteria, can lead to inflammation of the bowels, gas, constipation and generally poor digestion.
It is difficult to imagine a more cost-effective way of reducing the risk of colon cancer (and degenerative diseases in general) than to return to a high fibre diet and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. I can think of no better example of the axiom that prevention is better than treatment.