Eat your broccoli
Penny Kendall-Reed, ND
The benefits of broccoli remain undeniable, from its beneficial fibre and B vitamins to chemo-protective and chemo-preventative effects. The main active ingredients in broccoli are compounds known as glucosinolates.
In an environment filled with pollutants, stressors, and chemicals, the body quickly becomes overloaded with toxins. These toxins have a huge impact on our health, and greatly contribute to the progression of many conditions such as cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, allergies and asthma, and most importantly, cancer.
These toxins have a specific affinity for the DNA within our cells, and once bound to these genetic blueprints, they undergo oxidation and inflammation, which can stimulate or trigger cancerous genes and cell mutation.
Our principal defence against toxins is to minimize the impact they have on the body by neutralizing and excreting them from the body before they exert major damage. This process, detoxification, plays a role in the maintenance of health and the prevention of cancer.
The detoxification process is divided into two main phases. The first is the breakdown, or alteration, of the toxins into different forms; the second phase involves binding these newly formed substrates to specific protein molecules to be excreted out of the body.
Nutrients and supplements can be used to stimulate this process. In fact, one of the most efficacious nutrients, which can specifically increase the production of Phase 2 enzymes that detoxify carcinogens, is found in broccoli.
The main active ingredients in broccoli are compounds known as glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are themselves altered, first into substrates called isothiocyanates, and then into one of the final and most active forms, sulphoraphanes, otherwise known as sulphoraphane glucosinolates, or SGS. It is the sulphoraphanes that induce carcinogen-detoxifying enzymes.
Studies at Johns Hopkins University have found that SGS decreased the number of tumours in rats by 80 percent and the size of the tumours by 75 percent. Further research in the journal Cancer Research demonstrated that the activation of these detoxifying enzymes and the induction of apoptosis (spontaneous death of mutated cells) by SGS had a statistically significant chemo-protective effect in cancer treatment.
Studies on human bladder carcinoma cells in culture reveal that broccoli extracts are now one of the most promising chemo-preventive nutrients due to their ability to activate mitochondria-mediated cell death that arrests precancerous cell growth.
Also of great significance is SGS’s lifespan in the body. Once ingested, it remains active for up to 96 hours. Most other metabolites are active for only a few hours at a time. Broccoli extracts are able to recycle and reuse themselves providing prolonged chemo-protective benefits.
The benefits of broccoli remain undeniable, from its beneficial fibre and B vitamins to chemo-protective and chemo-preventative effects. For those who do not wish to consume large therapeutic doses of broccoli daily, capsule form is also available. In fact, one capsule of SGS can contain as much as one to two pounds worth of broccoli and is an efficient and
easy way to obtain this vegetable’s powerful health benefits.