Broccoli is a really healthy addition to our diets. For a lot of reasons! Getting toxic substances out of our bodies is critical for maintaining our good health. For a lot of reasons! We have built-in detoxifying enzymes and a detoxifying system that works continually to get toxins and toxicants out of us as efficiently and as quickly as possible. Our personal metabolic detox system loves to do its job, and it loves broccoli!! Here’s a quick look at it.
Toxins? Toxicants? Well, these are chemicals that can harm us or kill us. By definition, toxins are made by plants or animals (like eating a poisonous berry or being bitten by a black widow spider). Toxicants are chemicals that are man-made (like pesticides), or altered by us (like lead in paint), that are known to cause harm. By far, the biggest toxic exposure to people is from toxicants, not toxins. We have thousands of man-made chemicals that we are exposed to. Some may be helpful (like medications), some may be neutral and some are clearly harmful. For example, in an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) study, fat cell samples from people all across the country were tested for 3 different toxic solvents and results were not good – toxicants were found in 100% of people. The shear amount of toxicants that are part of our modern day world has placed an incredible burden on our detoxifying system. Obviously we don’t like this, but it is our current reality.
So, back to broccoli! It would be a good idea to remember what we covered in Part 1. Our detoxification system relies heavily on activation and orchestration from the Nrf2 pathway that we talked about there. Nrf2 is largely responsible for turning on “Phase 2 Detoxification” which is the binding of the toxic substance to another molecule to neutralize it and prepare it for transport out of the body. No dietary ingredient can turn on Nrf2 better than the superhero in broccoli, sulforaphane!
Although Phase 2 Detoxification occurs throughout the body, most of the activity occurs in the liver, the major detoxifying organ. When it comes to preparing toxic substances for removal, the liver carries most of the load. With robust Phase 2 activity in the liver, detoxification of the entire body can be much more complete. Broccoli is a great source of sulforaphane, and that makes your natural detoxifying system work better!!
We can, and should, do things to decrease our exposure to toxins and toxicants but toxic substances are hidden all over the place so it is literally impossible to completely avoid exposure. Help your body in its continual effort to get bad things out. Does broccoli help you detoxify? Oh yes!!