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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Why is a whole foods, plant based, vegan diet not recommended for prevention of bowel cancer?

    What's the deal? Other countries promote this as an effective way to minimise the risk of bowel cancer yet our information websites seem to gloss over it or not even mention it. This is a lifestyle disease for most sufferers. It seems to me the medical industry is simply jumping on the gravy train and making bucket loads of money once people are sick rather than attacking the cause - the poor diet the bulk of Australians follow.
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    Bowel Cancer Australia is the leading community-funded charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and care for everyone affected by bowel cancer. We … View Profile

    Thank you for your question.

    There is some evidence to suggest that overall GOOD vegetarian diets confer a reduction in the risk of gastro intestinal cancers, lacto-ovo being better than vegan diets.

    There are many aspects to this evidence, one being that vegetarians mostly weigh less and this may also be a reason for less incidence in this group of people.

    I am specifying GOOD here for a reason. To be an effective vegetarian certain protocols are needed to obtain all the correct nutrients, such as food combining to attain adequate proteins from foods. Unfortunately this type of in depth knowledge is not well known and people may think of vegetarian diet as just no meat, without consideration for adequate nutrient intake.

    Good meat/fish and poultry in moderate amounts provides a wide range of nutrients.

    Additionally in vegan diets there is the possibility of B12 deficiency, which leads to a need to supplement. Additionally there are other potential nutrient deficiencies.

    It is important when considering a change of diet that a nutritionist or dietician is consulted for the best results.

    Please see two abstract references below regarding nutrient deficiencies in vegan diets and the benefits of vegetarian diets in gastro intestinal cancers.

    http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/89/5/1627S.short

    http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/22/2/286.short

    For further information on Diet / Nutrition and bowel cancer visit the following pages on the Bowel Cancer Australia website -

    http://www.bowelcanceraustralia.org/bca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=143&Itemid=292

    http://www.bowelcanceraustralia.org/bca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=662:make-it-healthy&catid=57:recipes&Itemid=752

    http://www.bowelcanceraustralia.org/bca/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=57&Itemid=754


    Kind Regards,
    Teresa
    Bowel Cancer Australia Nutrition Adviser
    www.bowelcanceraustralia.org


    Please Note: The information provided by Bowel Cancer Australia’s Nurse and Nutritionist Advisory Services is intended for Australian residents as a reference guide only. It is not a substitute for independent professional advice and is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or disorder.

    If you believe your symptoms are consistent with those of bowel cancer or a digestive illness, please consult your doctor.

    Bowel Cancer Australia, its directors, officers or medical professionals shall not be liable to any person, company or any other body for any loss, direct or indirect or consequential on whatsoever account for any omission or negligent misstatement.

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    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    Im sorry that you feel that the medical industry is failing you in this area. But rest assured, there are professions who promote a more plant-based diet and a higher fibre diet for the prevention of bowel health. One of these professions is dietetics (dietitians). 

    Research has shown that those who consume a plant-based diet generally have a higher fibre intake compared to their omnivorous counterparts. This is because fibre is mainly found in plant-based foods but, you don't have to be completely vegan to lead a healthy life. The new Dietary Guidelines for Australian's recommend that all Australians should not exceed 455 grams of red meat a week as it may lead to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Having said this, it is good to mix up your types of meat during the week and include other sources such as chicken, fish, and meat alternative such as tofu, lentils and legumes.

    In terms of fibre, there are three main types; soluble, insoluble and resistant starch. It is important to get a mix of all three by consuming a wide variety of foods such as fruit, vegetables and, wholegrains. Resistant starch is they type of fibre that may help lower the risk of colorectal cancer as when it is fermented by the colonic bacteria, they produce chemicals which help to prevent the growth of cancer cells in the bowel and support a healthy environment. Resistant starch is found in foods such as cooked and cooled pasta, rice, potatoes, slightly green bananas, and in wholegrain products (in particular the Goodness Superfoods range).

    For further advice I would recommend you speak to your local Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). You can find an APD by logging onto the Dietitians Association of Australia website (www.daa.asn.au). Hope this helps answer your question.

  • 1

    Agree

    1

    Thanks

    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    EANDB,

    All the more better to seek individualised advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). APD's are university trained experts in nutrition and dietetics and have an intimate knowledge of how foods and nutrients can help to prevent diseases such as bowel cancer. If you would like more information on how to contact an APD, head to the Dietitian's Association of Australia's website (www.daa.asn.au)

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    ron

    HealthShare Member

    Yes, I too agree with you that there is little information out there to promote plant-based low fat diet which has been proven in preventing (and even reversing) diseases such as athersclerosis, diabetes type II.  I would have thought that evidence based information, especially in a democratic country like Australia, should have been made readily available to the general public - especially since the information can prevent (and in some cases proven to reverse) diseases!

    I would be keen to learn l if  Bowel Cancer Australia, Australian Dietetics Association and other professional health related organisations could tell me if these critical recommendations by highly respected scientists* and clinicians**(who have published in leading medical/ scientific journals), have been incorporated into the standard texttbooks/ lecture note used to train medical professionals (eg doctors/ nurses/ dieticians, pharmacists) or if they have been included in the  guidelines/ protocols that are used on a daily basis by these professionals?

    * Emeritus Professor Colin T. Campbell, Cornell University
    ** Prof. Dean Ornish, University of California, San Francisco (health advisor on President Obama's health committee)
    **Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, ex Cardio thoracic Head, The Cleveland Clinic

  • Bowel Cancer Australia is the leading community-funded charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and care for everyone affected by bowel cancer. We … View Profile

    Thank you for your comments.

    Bowel Cancer Australia certainly advocates plant based foods and follows the national healthy eating guidelines for five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit daily as per National Health and Medical Research Council.

    General advice available on the website may not suit all people and is intended as a guide only.

    Individual advice may be offered via a personal and specific request and is offered from a personal experience with the disease by our nutritionist, and our caring and helpful Love My Family advocates.

    The cause of bowel cancer is multifactorial and whilst diet plays an important part, other factors include: heredity, alcohol intake, fat intake, preserved foods and a sedentary lifestyle.

    Advocating high fibre of any kind and plant based diets may cause distressing symptoms for those people who have irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases, obstructive tumours, fissures, and who have undergone surgery and or have a stoma.

    To plan healthy vegan diets can be challenging, enlisting the assistance of a nutritionist or dietician is a good starting point for anybody who is learning new eating habits.

    Kind Regards,
    The team at Bowel Cancer Australia
    www.bowelcanceraustralia.org


    Please Note: The information provided by Bowel Cancer Australia’s Nurse and Nutritionist Advisory Services is intended for Australian residents as a reference guide only. It is not a substitute for independent professional advice and is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or disorder.

    If you believe your symptoms are consistent with those of bowel cancer or a digestive illness, please consult your doctor.

    Bowel Cancer Australia, its directors, officers or medical professionals shall not be liable to any person, company or any other body for any loss, direct or indirect or consequential on whatsoever account for any omission or negligent misstatement.

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