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Bulking Up on Antioxidants

Even when fiber and fruit and vegetable intake are kept constant, choosing foods richer in antioxidants may increase stool size, which is associated with lower cancer risk.

January 31, 2012 |
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Acknowledgements

Image thanks to Gerard Stolk

Transcript

The relationship between stool size and decreased cancer risk at first seems pretty straightforward. Fiber is what causes bulky stools. The only place fiber is found is in whole foods, so isn't that just saying, "more plant foods, less disease"? That's no revelation. But consider this: even plant-derived foods without fiber seem to increase fecal weight. How could that be?

That same ground of intrepid Italian researchers that did the inflammation and arterial function studies turned their sights to the "ability of a high total antioxidant capacity diet to increase stool weight and bowel antioxidant status in human subjects". Just like in the previous studies they did, same diets in terms of amount of fiber and amount of fruits and vegetables, but the high antioxidant group just substituted some of the higher-antioxidant foods like swapping in berries for bananas. After two weeks on the low antioxidant diet, their average stool weight dropped down to three ounces a day. That's almost as bad as New Yorkers!

But after switching to the high antioxidant diet (remember: same amount of fiber), there was more than a doubling of stool size. They suspect it has something to do with healthier diets altering the gut flora, but now we know. In addition to all the other benefits, a diet selected to raise the intake of dietary antioxidants is able to increase stool bulk. And incidentally, the antioxidant content of feces, though I'm not sure why we care.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is transcript contributed by Bruce A. Hamilton.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out all the other videos on antioxidants and don't miss the other videos on bowel movements. And there are 1,449 subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them!

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk, Kiwi Fruit for Irritable Bowel SyndromeAntioxidants in a Pinch: Dried Herbs and SpicesBest Treatment for Constipation, and Raspberries Reverse Precancerous Lesions

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out all the other videos on antioxidants and don’t miss the other videos on bowel movements. And there are 1,449 subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/jaxon/ jaxon

    If stool bulk is dependent on fiber and fiber is constant in both control diets, is it logical to assume the increased stool bulk is the result of more rapid transit times? If so, then the lower anti-oxidant diet can really back you up.

    Am I missing something here?

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/gilbowhaol-com/ GilbowH@aol.com

    This is very interesting and helpful. I am wondering if you are familiar with Super Red Drink Powder available at Trader Joes. It has 52 anti-oxidant berries, fruits etc. One scoop has 8,000 ORAC units and all from whole natural foods. Harry Gilbow

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      If you can find me a list of ingredients I’d be happy to look them over!

      • GilbowH

        Here is the profile for the Green Drink, the Red Drink is based on berries, nuts, seeds etc. but I could not locate a list. I would appreciate your professional view. H.G.

        Prop. Antioxidant blend – 2010mg
        organic barley grass juice, chlorella, spirulina, alfalfa concentrate, ioinic trace minerals

        Prop Antiox blend 2000mg

        Organic carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, parsley powdered juices

        Prop AntiOx Blend – 1740mg

        Organic concord Grape powder, chery powder, milk thistle extract (80% sylmarin), redbeet root, aloe vera, pomegranate, tumeric (85% curcuminoids), kelp powder, green tea decaf (60% ployphenols), quercitin (98% dihydride), trans-resveratrol 50%, red wine extract, grape seed extract, blueberry leaf extract licorice, vegetable extract, fruit extract, cinnamon and strawberry powder

        fiber blend – 3850

        organic SDG flax lignans concentrate, Oat betaglucan, apple fiber pectin, sprouted barley malt, lecithin

        enzyme blend – 200mg

        bromelaine (600gdu/gm), papain, protease, amylase, lipase, cellulase, lactase

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please also check out my associated blog post, Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk!

  • Rosemary Guy

    love the blue toilet great pic but wondering what chemical nasties might have been involved

  • Henry Oxnard

    Are baby varieties as nutritious as full grown?