An extraordinary research team from The Francis Crick Institute has discovered, from their new study, that chemicals produced by vegetables — kale, broccoli, cabbage, etc. — could help in maintaining a healthy gut and in preventing colon cancer.
The new study was tested on mice, and the goal was to see whether or not vegetables had an effect on maintaining a healthy gut. Spoiler alert, the new study was fairly successful for the mice!
To do this experiment, the research teams used genetically modified mice that could neither produce or activate aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a protein, in their guts. These mice were either put in a purified control diet — a diet that contains the exact mixtures of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fibers enriched with vitamins and minerals — or on the standard diet/I3C-enriched food. I3C is essential to the body because it can prevent colon inflammation and cancer by activating AhR.
Once the study was completed, the researchers found that AhR is vital for repairing damaged epithelial cells; “Without AhR, intestinal stem cells fail to differentiate into specialized epithelial cells that absorb nutrients or generate protective mucus. Instead, they divide uncontrollably which can ultimately lead to colon cancer.” Ultimately, the standard diet/I3C-enriched food, or in other words, a vegetable-rich diet, is the better diet since it helps with our intestines.
Overall, with this new and encouraging discovery, the research team is planning to do further experiments in organoids made from human gut biopsies and then eventually do human trials. Although we have made a discovery simply for mice, this discovery is very helpful and leads us to a good path to cure cancer.