Why does cabbage make you need the toilet? 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK’S ‘DAILY MAIL’)

 

Why does cabbage make you need the toilet?

The ‘taste buds’ that line the wall of the intestines are called enterochromaffin cells.

The specialised cells first caught the attention of scientists when it was revealed that they produce 90 per cent of the body’s serotonin, a chemical that regulates mood and appetite.

Researchers have now discovered that enterochromaffin cells are also specially adapted to sense irritants released by diet.

Specifically, the cells are able to sense allyl isothiocyanate found in cabbage, which irritates the gut by causing inflammation.

The scientists found that when enterochromaffin cells sense these chemicals, they start to pump out large amounts of serotonin.

Chemicals found in cabbage which can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea, new research suggests

Chemicals found in cabbage which can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea, new research suggests

Serotonin activates nerves in the intestine, which then send ‘warning’ signals to the brain.

The brain responds to these signals by speeding up bowel movements, sometimes causing diarrhoea and vomiting.

Links to Irritable Bowel Syndrome

‘It might also give you a general sense of discomfort as a way of letting you know you’ve got some kind of inflammatory episode going on in there,’ lead researcher Professor David Julius, from the University of California, San Francisco, told New Scientist.

The findings suggest that people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition characterised by constipation and diarrhoea, may have extra-sensitive enterochromaffin cells, the researchers said.

‘We’re now looking into whether these cells might be hypersensitive in people with IBS,’ Professor Julius said.

The research was published in the journal Cell.

IBS: What are the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

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Cabbage causes your brain to speed up bowel movements

How the humble cabbage can stop cancers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

How the humble cabbage can stop cancers

CabbageImage copyright GETTY IMAGES

Scientists say they have discovered why some vegetables – including cabbage, broccoli and kale – can reduce the risk of bowel cancers.

That cruciferous veg is good for the gut has never been in doubt but a detailed explanation has been elusive.

The team at the Francis Crick Institute found anti-cancer chemicals were produced as the vegetables were digested.

Cancer Research UK said there were plenty of reasons to eat more veg.

The work focused on how vegetables alter the lining of the intestines, by studying mice and miniature bowels growing in the lab.

Like the skin, the surface of the bowels is constantly being regenerated in a process that takes four to five days.

But this constant renewal needs to be tightly controlled, otherwise it could lead to cancer or gut inflammation.

And the work, published in the journal Immunity, showed chemicals in cruciferous vegetables were vital.

From kitchen to cancer prevention?

The researchers investigated a chemical called indole-3-carbinol, which is produced by chewing such vegetables.

“Make sure they’re not overcooked, no soggy broccoli,” said researcher Dr Gitta Stockinger.

The chemical is modified by stomach acid as it continues its journey through the digestive system.

In the lower bowel, it can change the behaviour of stem cells, which regenerate the bowel lining, and of immune cells that control inflammation.

The study showed diets high in indole-3-carbinol protected the mice from cancer, even those whose genes put them at very high risk of the disease.

Without the protective diet, the gut cells divided uncontrollably.

Dr Stockinger added: “Even when the mice started developing tumours and we switched them to the appropriate diet, it halted tumour progression.”

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Signs of bowel cancer include persistent:

  • blood in the stools
  • changes in bowel habits, such as going to the toilet more often
  • tummy pain, bloating or discomfort
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Dr Stockinger said the findings were a “cause for optimism”.

She has reduced the amount of meat she eats and now consumes a lot more vegetables.

She told the BBC: “A lot of dietary advice we’re getting changes periodically – it is very confusing and not clear cut what the causes and consequences are.

“Just telling me it’s good for me without a reason will not make me eat it.

“With this study, we have the molecular mechanisms about how this system works.”

Prof Tim Key, from Cancer Research UK, said: “This study in mice suggests that it’s not just the fibre contained in vegetables like broccoli and cabbage that help reduce the risk of bowel cancer, but also molecules found in these vegetables too.

“Further studies will help find out whether the molecules in these vegetables have the same effect in people, but in the meantime there are already plenty of good reasons to eat more vegetables.”

Follow James on Twitter.

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