Our mothers were right. Broccoli is good for us, but possibly in ways our mothers never knew. Health practitioners and fitness experts around the world have heralded the benefits of broccoli for decades. Scientists have long demonstrated the antioxidant properties of broccoli. Many people know that broccoli is rich in vitamins A, C, and E, the big free radical scavenger vitamins. However, a brand new clinical study was just released in January 2012 which is getting scientists excited about broccoli – and other cruciferous vegetables – again. Broccoli, and similar vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower may be able to manipulate human genes. The secret ingredient is sulfur.
Sulfur in glucosinolate induces enzyme expression and activates detoxification
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts have been shown to reduce the risk of several degenerative diseases and conditions. The benefits of a diet rich in these vegetables have been well-documented in the medical literature for cardiovascular disease and cancer. What scientists are excited about now is a unique organic compound called glucosinolate, which is made from several plant amino acids and glucose. Glucosinolate contains high amounts of sulfur and nitrogen.
In particular, the sulfur-containing part of plant cells in broccoli has been demonstrated to be an indirect antioxidant. According to a 2012 study published in Frontiers in Genetics, sulforaphane, as the compound is called, has an incredible ability to get certain enzymes to express. This is done by signaling genes in the cell nucleus. These particular enzymes activate the detoxification and antioxidant process. Over the past ten years, scientists have watched sulforaphane do this in vivo, meaning live, in humans. Sulfur heals.
Sulfur works through redox reactions and altering the cellular environment
How does sulfur work as an antioxidant and detoxifier in the human body? The molecules in sulforaphane work via a process known in biochemistry as a redox reaction. Redox is a nickname for oxidation-reduction reactions. A redox reaction is when two chemical compounds exchange electrons. One molecule gives electrons, while the other molecule receives electrons. This is the chemical reaction which occurs when an alkaline molecule gives negatively charged electrons to acidic molecules in order to neutralize the acid. While many antioxidants do this, sulforaphane also alters the epigenetic endpoints.
The field of epigenetics, the cellular environment surrounding genes, is exploding. This discovery with sulforaphane has tremendous possibilities for people with modified genetics and suggests the possibility that genetic diseases may be able to be corrected. A 2011 doctoral dissertation presented by John D. Clarke for a doctorate in molecular and cellular biology proved that a diet rich in broccoli sprouts was able to prevent prostate cancer. Dr. Terry Wahls, M.D. was able to reverse multiple sclerosis without pharmaceuticals by eating a diet high in organic sulfur-rich foods, including broccoli. Others are experiencing similar results.
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