Broccoli, a close relative of Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower, is perhaps most well-known for its chemoprotective properties. It’s an excellent source of phytonutrient glucosinolates, flavonoids and other health-boosting antioxidant and anticancer compounds. One of the compounds in broccoli known to have anticancer activity is sulforaphane, a naturally occurring organic sulfur.
Studies have shown sulforaphane supports normal cell function and division while causing apoptosis (programmed cell death) in colon,1prostate,2 breast3 and tobacco-induced lung cancer4 cells, and reducing the number of cancerous liver tumors in mice.5 Three servings of broccoli per week may reduce your risk of prostate cancer by more than 60 percent.6
Its beneficial effects on obesity, Type 2 diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) have also been highlighted in a number of studies. Researchers have now identified yet another major health benefit of this cruciferous vegetable: a healthy gut. In fact, researchers suggest broccoli can be very helpful in the treatment of colitis and leaky gut.7,8,9,10 As reported by CBS:11
“The Penn State study was carried out with mice, who were found to be much more capable of tolerating digestive issues than those who weren’t put on a broccoli diet. The scientists added that the results could be a breakthrough for humans, as digestive problems can reportedly lead to other severe issues.”
Broccoli Helps Heal a Leaky Gut
What they discovered is that when you eat broccoli, a compound called indolocarbazole (ICZ) is produced, which catalyzes a healthy balance not only in your gut but also in your immune system, as the two are intricately connected. In this study, 15 percent of the animals’ diet was swapped out for raw broccoli, equating to a human eating 3.5 cups of broccoli per day.
Admittedly, that’s quite a bit of broccoli, but the researchers note you can obtain an equivalent amount of ICZ from a single cup of Brussels sprouts, as they contain three times the ICZ of broccoli. Earlier studies had confirmed that one of the health benefits of broccoli is its ability to quench inflammation, so it makes sense it would be helpful for gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation as well.
Leaky gut is a condition that occurs due to the development of gaps between the cells (enterocytes) that make up the membrane lining your intestinal wall. These tiny gaps allow substances such as undigested food, bacteria and metabolic wastes that should be confined to your digestive tract to escape into your bloodstream.
Once the integrity of your intestinal lining is compromised, allowing toxic substances to enter your bloodstream, your body experiences a significant increase in inflammation. Your immune system may also become confused and begin to attack your own body as if it were an enemy — a hallmark of autoimmunity disorders.
Chronic inflammation in your body can also contribute and/or lead to other health conditions such as arthritis and heart disease. While leaky gut syndrome is primarily associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis and celiac disease, even healthy people can have varying degrees of intestinal permeability leading to a wide variety of health symptoms, and this can be significantly influenced by your diet.
How Broccoli Improves Gut Function
A key component of a healthy gut is having good barrier function to prevent particles from escaping from your intestinal tract into your bloodstream. Receptors located on the lining of your gut wall called aryl hydrocarbon receptors (AHRs) play a vital role in maintaining a well-functioning barrier. One of their primary jobs is to trigger a reaction when toxins are detected.
As mentioned, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolate compounds, which are broken down into ICZ and other byproducts during digestion in your stomach. By binding to and activating AHR, ICZ helps boost your immune function and improve the balance of the microbiome in your gut.
The compound sulforaphane also inhibits inflammation by reducing damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS) by as much as 73 percent.12 Sulforaphane is also an immune stimulant,13 so broccoli beneficially influences your immune function in more ways than one.
Interestingly, excessive activation of AHR will have an opposite, detrimental effect. According to the researchers in the featured study, dioxin activates this receptor, but in this case the resulting hyperactivation triggers toxicity. Lead author Gary Perdew, professor of agricultural sciences, said,14 “What we were interested in is: Could you locally activate the receptor naturally at a level that would cause only modest AHR activation in the gut, but not cause systemic activation, which could possibly lead to negative effects?”
The answer, as you may have guessed, is yes, you can — with cruciferous vegetables. Importantly, broccoli and other sulfur-rich cruciferous vegetables also improve detoxification, which is another important factor that influences your health, including your gut health. Broccoli sprouts, in particular, have been shown to help detox environmental pollutants such as benzene.15,16,17 As noted by The World’s Healthiest Foods:18
“… [S]ulforaphane increases the activity of the liver’s phase 2 detoxification enzymes. These enzymes … are well-known for their ability to clear a wide variety of toxic compounds from the body including not only many carcinogens, but also many reactive oxygen species, a particularly nasty type of free radical.
By jump-starting these important detoxification enzymes, compounds in crucifers provide protection against cell mutations … and numerous other harmful effects that would otherwise be caused by these toxins.”
The Importance of Fiber for Healthy Gut Function
Broccoli and other members of this family are also good sources of fiber — another important ingredient for good gut health. Fiber helps nourish your gut microbiome to strengthen your immune function and reduce your risk of inflammatory diseases.19 Fiber also activates a gene called T-bet, which is essential for producing immune cells in the lining of your digestive tract.20
These immune cells, called innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), help maintain balance between immunity and inflammation in your body and produce interleukin-22, a hormone that helps protect your body from pathogenic bacteria. ILCs even help resolve cancerous lesions and prevent the development of bowel cancers and other inflammatory diseases.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Broccoli
Contrary to what you might think, the medicinal qualities of mature broccoli are actually optimized through cooking. Precision is key, however, as there’s a fine line between optimizing its nutrient content and destroying it through overcooking. Here are some tips and guidelines to help you get the most out of your broccoli:
•Adhere to ideal cooking times: Research37 shows steaming mature broccoli spears for three to four minutes will increase the available sulforaphane content by eliminating epithiospecifier protein — a heat-sensitive sulfur-grabbing protein that inactivates sulforaphane — while still retaining the enzyme myrosinase, which converts glucoraphanin to sulforaphane. The latter is important, because without myrosinase, you cannot get absorb the sulforaphane.
Make sure you do not exceed the five-minute mark, as you start losing valuable compounds beyond that point. If you opt for boiling, blanch it in boiling water for no more than 20 to 30 seconds, then immerse it in cold water to stop the cooking process.
•Eat cruciferous veggies with mustard seed powder or other myrosinase-rich food: Eating your cruciferous veggies with a myrosinase-containing food38 such as mustard seed powder, which contains a particularly resilient form of myrosinase,39 will further maximize sulforaphane content. Aside from mustard seed, other alternatives include daikon radishes, wasabi, arugula or coleslaw. Adding a myrosinase-rich food is particularly important if you eat the broccoli raw, or use frozen broccoli.
•Opt for fresh: Ideally, use raw, freshly harvested broccoli whenever possible as frozen broccoli has diminished ability to produce sulforaphane. This is because myrosinase40 is quickly destroyed during the blanching process.41 Broccoli can also lose 80 percent of its glucoraphanin — the precursor of sulforaphane — in the first 10 days after harvest.
•For recipes calling for longer cooking times, chop and wait before cooking: When a cruciferous vegetable is chopped, myrosinase is activated. So, by chopping the food and waiting about 40 minutes, the sulforaphane will have formed, allowing you to cook the food in excess of the recommended three to four minutes of steaming, or 30-second blanching, without risking sulforaphane loss.42
The reason for this is because both the precursor to sulforaphane and the sulforaphane itself are largely resistant to heat. It’s the myrosinase that gets destroyed during cooking, which then prevents the formation of sulforaphane. By allowing the sulforaphane to form before you cook it, you circumvent this chain of events. As an example, if making broccoli soup, blend the raw broccoli first; wait 40 minutes for the sulforaphane to form, then boil it.
11 pounds in 22 days?
Is it REALLY possible to lose 11 lbs. of fat in 22 days? Actually yes… BUT only when you’re a level 4 fat burner. Unfortunately, most people are stuck as level 1 fat burners. So, how do you become a level 4 fat burner to lose up to 11 lbs. in 22 days? Simply eat these foods daily:
In April, 2009, researchers stunned the medical community when they reported chronic inflammation as the root cause of several major diseases.
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Imagine a rotting corpse draped over your body from head to toe...
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64% of women and 74% of men carry too much body fat according to the National Institutes of Health.
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d) Hip Flexors
Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!
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Is Bread Really the Staff of Life… or the Stuff of Disease?
For most us, there are few foods more comforting than bread.
Fluffy biscuits, crusty baguettes, flaky croissants… even a simple slice of toast topped with melted butter can taste like heaven.
And that smell… few scents are quite as pleasant as fresh bread baking in the oven.
But there is a lot of confusion as to where bread fits into a healthy diet.
The Bible practically commands followers to eat it: “Give us this day our daily bread…” The government put it at the base of the food pyramid. And for centuries, it has been called “the staff of life.”
Of course, there are some who disagree…
Well-known cardiologist, Dr. William Davis, calls wheat “the perfect chronic poison.”
And for a poison, we sure eat lots of it…
The average American consumes 55 pounds of wheat flour every year, making refined flour the #1 source of calories in the American Diet – a situation that nutrition expert Chris Kresser describes as, “a public health catastrophe.”
So, what is the truth about bread and wheat?
- Is it the perfect poison… or an essential daily food?
- Is “gluten-free” bread better for you than regular bread?
- And can you still eat bread… while maintaining a lean body and optimal health?
The answers to these questions may surprise you!
Be sure to read #5 – the biggest surprise of all!
Recently, Doctor of Naturopathy, weight-loss expert and best-selling Amazon author Liz Swann Miller, creator of the Red Smoothie Detox Factor, revealed 2 of the secrets to easy, steady weight loss. Secrets the big food corporations do their best to hide from us.
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You probably know most of us eat too much processed food. What you may not know is that it’s full of toxic chemicals and substandard, dirt-cheap ingredients designed to make you eat more…and force you to gain weight.
Here’s how it works.
“That stuff is just a lot of calories your body can’t use,” Liz told me, “Some are poison. And all these foods are stripped of the anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories that help your body detox. The result? Your body expends huge amounts of calories to eliminate some toxins—the rest, it stores in your fat to protect you. This is why most people are hungry all the time. They’re not getting energy they need.”
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Sponsored Health Resources
In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.
NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!
1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…
2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.
3) This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
4) I thought it was virtually impossible for a website to be able to tell me anything even a little bit insightful after only submitting my name and date of birth... I was wrong!
5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!
6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.
7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.
Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.