Beans: powerful supporters in colorectal cancer aftercare

The intestinal microbiome is essential in many body processes. Could prebiotic food intake benefit intestinal flora in intestinal polyps or colorectal carcinoma?

What are the benefits of beans in colorectal cancer aftercare?

Are all beans recommended?

There is a wide variety of beans on the market, from kidney beans to green beans and pinto beans. But the question is justified: Which variety of the plant was used in the study (DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2023.104873)? After all, not all beans are the same.

The researchers carried out their investigations on patients who ate up to one cup (or around 200 gr.) of navy beans a day. These are also known as Boston bean. They are small and white and very rich in protein. They got their name from the fact that they used to serve the US Navy as an essential, and also inexpensive, source of protein and energy. This type of bean is common in the USA and is rich in prebiotic substances.

Study background

Prebiotics, many of which are found in beans, are said to have a positive effect on the gut and the bacterial flora, which in turn are said to have a protective effect. It could therefore be possible to exert a positive influence on bowel cancer.

The study involved obese people who had a history of bowel polyps or colorectal carcinoma and were in the follow-up phase of their disease. They were randomised and either ate around 200 gr. of navy beans a day or made no change to their eating habits.

What can the bean achieve?

Stool and blood tests were carried out at regular intervals. The final examinations were carried out after 16 weeks. The result: those who consumed beans daily had better outcomes. These outcomes were a more favourable bacterial colonisation of the intestinal flora and a decrease in inflammatory parameters. Both results could be associated with a reduction in the risk of bowel cancer. The researchers even go so far as to suggest that the beans could possibly have a therapeutic role.

Key to the findings: The positive effects of the beans diminished as soon as the participants returned to their previous eating habits.

Key take-away

The prebiotic ingredients of the navy bean could play an important role in the aftercare and prevention of bowel cancer. In the current study, they led to a colonisation of the intestinal flora with protective bacteria and a reduction in inflammatory parameters.

  1. Zhang X, Irajizad E, Hoffman KL, Fahrmann JF, Li F, Seo YD, Browman GJ, Dennison JB, Vykoukal J, Luna PN, Siu W, Wu R, Murage E, Ajami NJ, McQuade JL, Wargo JA, Long JP, Do KA, Lampe JW, Basen-Engquist KM, Okhuysen PC, Kopetz S, Hanash SM, Petrosino JF, Scheet P, Daniel CR. Modulating a prebiotic food source influences inflammation and immune-regulating gut microbes and metabolites: insights from the BE GONE trial. EBioMedicine. 2023 Dec;98:104873. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2023.104873. Epub 2023 Nov 30. PMID: 38040541; PMCID: PMC10755114.