-by Dena Schmidt
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage are well known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and chemoprotective properties. Now research out of Penn State University is showing that broccoli could bring dramatic benefits to digestive health and overall wellbeing.
For the study, one group of mice were fed a diet of around 15 percent broccoli – this is the equivalent of a human eating around 3.5 cups of broccoli per day. And, while this may seem like a lot, it does shrink down when cooked or an equivalent amount of the helpful compound ICZ can be obtained from a single cup of Brussels sprouts.
A control group was not fed any broccoli.
How broccoli can help people suffering with a ‘leaky gut’
The researchers found that those animals fed a broccoli diet were able to tolerate digestive issues much better than those not fed any broccoli. The researchers are excited about the possible health benefits for humans who have problems with colitis, a leaky gut and other digestive issues.
The protective effect is related to a compound released when broccoli is eaten called indolocarbazole (ICZ). ICZ helps to catalyze balance in both the gut and the immune system, as both are intricately entwined.
The condition of leaky gut is caused by when tiny gaps develop between cells (enterocytes) in the intestinal wall membrane. These gaps allow food and waste products, which belong in the gut, to escape into the bloodstream.
Broccoli helps fight inflammation while boosting gut health
When the intestines are compromised and gut substances leak out, a significant increase in cellular inflammation can result. Inflammation can pave the way for a range of health problems, including heart disease and cancer. The immune system can even start to attack itself – the hallmark mechanism of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Chronic inflammation is also a primary symptom in inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis, celiac disease and Crohn’s disease. However, even persons who are in good health can be prone to inflammation and a leaky gut depending upon their diet.
Barrier functioning in the gut is essential to its health and integrity. Gut wall receptors called aryl hydrocarbon receptors (AHRs) are vital to its strength and effectiveness. One of their roles is the triggering of reactions when a toxin or invader is detected.
Broccoli can work as a potent detoxifier
When you eat broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, their glucosinolate compounds create ICZ. When it binds with AHR, it activates it, helping to balance the gut microbiome and boost the immune system. Inflammation is also reduced during this process through the reduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by up to 73 percent.
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are also known for their detoxification properties.
Their healthy compounds boost detoxification enzymes in the liver while clearing out carcinogens, reactive oxygen species and free radicals. Broccoli is also loaded with fiber – another important dietary component of gut health.
The conclusion? Eat broccoli, daily, if possible – or at least several times per week.
Sources for this article include: