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Digestive Health

Dried Plums Modify Colon Microbiota Composition and Spatial Distribution, and Protect Against Chemically-Induced Carcinogenesis

D.V. Seidel1, K.K. Hicks1, S.S. Taddeo1, M.A. Azcarateā€Peril2, R.J. Carroll3, N.D. Turner1

1Nutrition & Food Science, Texas A&M University, College Station; 2Cell Biology & Physiology, and Microbiome Core Facility, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; 3Statistics, Texas A&M University, College Station

Differences in microbial populations in the proximal and distal colon may impact apparent site-specific differences in pathology. Diet is known to alter metabolism and composition of colon microbiota, which has major implications for disease prevention and treatment. The hypothesis tested by this experiment was that consumption of dried plums would promote retention of beneficial microbiota and patterns of microbial metabolism throughout the colon, and that by doing so would reduce colon cancer incidence. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were provided either a control (CD, n=25) or plum diet (PD, 5% of calories, n=26) 3 wk before being given two injections of AOM (15 mg/kg BW) or saline, and sacrificed 8 wk later. Tissues were resected and fecal contents isolated separately from the proximal and distal colon. Irrespective of treatment, the PD increased Bacteroidetes (p<0.0001) and reduced Firmicutes (p<0.0001) in the distal colon without affecting their proximal proportions, compared to the CD, which suppressed Bacteroidetes and increased Firmicutes in the distal colon. Additionally, rats consuming PD had significantly reduced numbers of aberrant crypts (p=0.0025), aberrant crypt foci (p=0.0060), and high multiplicity aberrant crypt foci (p=0.0008) compared to CD rats. These data support our hypothesis that dried plums protect against colon cancer, and this may be due in part to their ability to establish putatively beneficial colon microbiota compositions in the distal colon. 
Supported by California Dried Plum Board PN 12-20.

Randomised Clinical Trial: Dried plums/prunes vs. Psyllium for Constipation

Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics 2011; 33: 822-28.. Attaluri A, Donahoe R, Valestin J, Brown and Rao SSC.  .

Although dried plums/prunes and prune juice have been traditionally used for the treatment of constipation, dried plums have not been systematically assessed in patients with well defined costipation. This study investigated and compared the effects of dried plums and psyllium in patients with chronic constipation.

Forty constipated subjects (m/f = 3/37, mean age = 38 y) participated in an 8-week, single-blind, randomised cross-over study. Participants received dried plums (50 g b.d, 6 gm fiber/d) or psyllium (11 g b.d., 6 gm fiber/d) for 3 weeks each, in a crossover trial with a 1-week washout period.  Participants maintained a daily symptom and stool diary.  Assessments included number of complete spontaneous bowel movements per week, global relief of constipation, stool consistency, straining, tolerability and taste.

The number of complete spontaneous bowel movements per week (primary outcome measure) and stool consistency scores improved significantly (P


Naturalistic, Controlled, Crossover Trial of Plum Juice vs. Psyllium vs. Control

The Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness 2009: Vol 7. No. 2. Cheskin LJ, Mitola AH, Ridore M, Kolge S, Hwang K and Clark B.

This controlled study invovling 36 adults reporting chronic constipation symptoms, evaluated the effects of consuming a daily portion of plum juice (PlumSmart) prior to a meal for 14 days, compared with psyllium (Metamucil), a non-fruit  source of fiber, and equicaloric, fiber-free clear apple juice as the placebo control. 

According to the results: Softer stools were associataed with plum juice compared to apple juice alone and apple juice with Metamucil; Plum juice was as likely as psyllium to provide immediate relief (within 24 hours of first use) of constipation symptoms and both performed better than the placebo/apple juice alone; The taste of plum juice was equal to apple juice alone and was preferred over apple juice with psyllium.

The study provides preliminary evidence to support the daily use of natural product, plum juice, as an accepted and effective treatment for stool softening and immediate relief of constipation symptoms.

Prune Juice Has a Mild Laxative Effect in Adults with Certain Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Nutrition Research 27 (2007): 511-513. Piirainen, L., Peuhkuri, K., Bäckström, K., Korpela, R, and Salminen, S.

The study was undertaken to investigate whether prune juice affects gastrointestinal function in adults with certain gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. Subjects were otherwise healthy but had certain GI symptoms not as severe as a disorder. The study was for 4 weeks; 1 week baseline, 2 weeks prune juice, and 1 week follow up. Subjects drank 125 mL prune juice twice a day during the prune juice period. Results indicate that prune juice reduced the occurrence of difficulty in defecation in these subjects and the effect continued to the follow-up week. The authors concluded that regularly ingested prune juice had a mild laxative effect in adults with certain GI symptoms; however, prune juice also increased flatulence. Prune juice may offer a user-friendly alternative to laxatives, at least in cases of mild constipation.

Effect of Dried Plums on Colon Cancer Risk Factors in Rats

Nutrition and Cancer 53, no. 1 (2005): 117–125
Yang, Y. and Gallaher, D.D.

The study examined the effect of dried plums on the number of precancerous lesions (aberrant crypts, ACs), fecal bile acid concentration and cecal bacterial enzyme activities related to colon cancer risk. Dried plum powder was fed at a low concentration (LC 4.75 percent) and a high-concentration (HC 9.5 percent). Azoxymethane was administered to the rats two times, one week apart after the rats received either the experimental or control diets for 10 days. The rats continued to be fed their respective diets for nine weeks until terminated. Although the number of AC foci did not differ among the different animal groups, the dried plum diets favorably altered other colon cancer risk factors as measured by bacterial enzyme activities.

Cellular and Physiological Effects of Probiotics and Prebiotics

Mini Review of Medical Chemistry-Marteau, P., P. Seksik, et al. (2004). “Cellular and physiological effects of probiotics and prebiotics.” Mini Rev Med Chem 4(8): 889-96.

The biological mechanisms of action of probiotics and prebiotics include direct effects in the intestinal lumen or on intestinal or immune cells, and indirect mechanisms through modulation of the endogenous microflora (composition or functions such as butyrate production) or of the immune system. 

Effects of a High-Fiber Diet on Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome- A Randomized Clinical Trial

Nutrition- Aller, R., D. A. de Luis, et al. (2004). 20(9): 735-7.

A modest fiber intake in patients with irritable bowel syndrome relieved symptoms, but this therapeutic benefit of fiber may have been due to a placebo effect because the results were similar in the low-fiber group.

Dietary Fiber and C-Reactive Protein: Findings from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Data

Journal of Nutrition: Ajani, U. A., E. S. Ford, et al. (2004). 134(5): 1181-5.

 High concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP) are considered a marker for inflammatory disease based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2000, fiber intake is associated with lower serum CRP concentration thereby supporting the recommendation of a diet with a high fiber content.

Gastrointestinal Symptoms are More Intense in Morbidly Obese Patients and are Improved with Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass

Obesity Surgery Clements, R. H., Q. H. Gonzalez, et al. (2003). 13(4): 610-4.

Morbidly obese patients experience more intense GI symptoms than control subjects and many of these symptoms return to control levels six months after laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (LRYGBP).

Relationship of Prebiotics and Food to Intestinal Microflora

 European Journal of Nutrition:  “Relationship of prebiotics and food to intestinal microflora.” Eur J Nutr 41 Suppl 1: 11-6. Blaut, M. (2002).

Prebiotics are non-digestible but fermentable oligosaccharides that specifically change the composition and activity of the intestinal microflora to promote the health of the host. Dietary fiber and non-digestible oligosaccharides are the main growth substrates of intestinal microflora. In spite of the interesting nutritional properties of prebiotics, it is questionable whether a wholesome diet rich in fruit and vegetables needs to be supplemented with prebiotics for optimal health effects.

Diet and Chronic Constipation in Children: the Role of Fiber

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterological Nutrition Roma, E., D. Adamidis, et al. (1999). “Diet and chronic constipation in children: the role of fiber.” J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 28(2): 169-74.

Lack of fiber may play an important role in the etiology of chronic idiopathic constipation in children.