Broccoli rocks! – Part 1 – Meet Sulforaphane, the Nrf2 Champion!

a broccoli and shrimp salad

Oh gosh, I have so much to share with you about broccoli.  You already know it is good for you and you’ve probably heard that eating broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (like brussel sprouts, cabbage and kale) lowers the risk of developing cancer.  In this several part series, you’ll have a chance to learn a lot about how broccoli does all sorts of good things for our health, but, today, I’d like to introduce you to Sulforaphane and briefly to the Nrf2 pathway of cellular defense.  Remember, I’m an integrative medicine doc so this stuff is actually very important in my work and in the health of our bodies.

When it comes to broccoli, with all its “good for you” ingredients, sulforaphane alone has been the subject of more scientific research than any other component.  Broccoli is very rich in sulforaphane. The research on it can be traced to beneficial effects in a vast array of health concerns.  The research is pouring in, literally from around the world.

So, let me give a brief introduction to one of the main ways that sulforaphane is really healthy for us, its activation of the Nrf2 Pathway.

  • Sulforaphane is a phytonutrient, a plant-derived compound with proven health benefits.
  • Sulforaphane is the #1 most researched and proven phytonutrient for activating a critical health pathway in every living cell in our bodies.  That pathway is called Nrf2 (an abbreviation of a very long and complex biochemical name).
  • We have about 50 trillion living cells in our bodies.  Everything starts at the level of cellular health or lack of health.  A billion is a thousand million and a trillion is a thousand billion, so 50 trillion cells is a BIG number.
  • Literally, every second of every minute there are 10s of thousands of biochemical activities occurring inside every cell.  It’s mind boggling to try to comprehend.
  • The Nrf2 pathway is present in every cell and it plays a critical role in cellular defense.  Its main role is to protect the cells from free free-radical damage, to decrease cellular inflammation and to support the deactivation and removal of toxins.  It regulates over 600 cell protective genes.
  • Nrf2 turns on the cell’s own line-up of endogenous anti-oxidants (anti-oxidants that we make ourselves) which can act quickly and independently from the anti-oxidants we get from our diet.

OK, so back to “normal” conversation.  I know that got a little bit technical!  Even if that went a little bit over your head, I’m confident you got the main message, “Broccoli rocks!”.  In the rest of the series you’ll learn lots of great things.  At the core of most of those great things is the star of broccoli  –   Sulforaphane – THE Nrf2 Champion!

Resources:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16354693

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=arch.+toxicol.+85%2C+241-272

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=biol.+chem+281%2C+27251-27263

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24814729

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21129940

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