Health ben­e­fits of broc­coli

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - BODY, MIND & SOUL -

TH­ESE days, we are con­stantly ex­posed to a mul­ti­tude of free rad­i­cals and tox­ins from the pol­luted en­vi­ron­ment we live in.

Our en­vi­ron­ment is in­creas­ingly pol­luted by the in­dus­trial air pol­lu­tants, traf­fic fumes, heavy met­als, pes­ti­cides, ra­di­a­tion and sol­vents.

The in­crease in en­vi­ron­men­tal tox­i­c­ity, cou­pled with mod­ern life­style habits such as un­healthy di­etary choices, smok­ing and al­co­hol con­sump­tion lead to an in­evitable build-up of tox­ins in our bod­ies. Ac­cu­mu­la­tion of tox­ins in the body puts an ex­tra work­load on our bod­ily sys­tems, es­pe­cially the liver. When our liver is over­worked, it can­not process the tox­ins ef­fi­ciently, caus­ing th­ese harm­ful sub­stances to be re­leased into our blood­stream.

This will lead to fa­tigue, hor­monal im­bal­ance, weak­ened im­mune sys­tems and al­ler­gies. Just like our cars which re­quire over­haul­ing and oil change reg­u­larly, our bod­ies need pe­ri­odic detox­i­fi­ca­tion to get rid of the un­wanted, harm­ful tox­ins.

Liver detox­i­fi­ca­tion

Our liver elim­i­nates tox­ins through a two-step en­zy­matic process – the phase-I and phase-II detox­i­fi­ca­tion path­ways.

The phase-I detox­i­fi­ca­tion path­way starts by chem­i­cally ac­ti­vat­ing the fat-sol­u­ble tox­ins and pre­pares them for phase-II.

The phase-II detox­i­fi­ca­tion path­way is known as the con­ju­ga­tion path­way.

It is im­por­tant as it con­verts the bio­trans­formed in­ter­me­di­ates from phase-I into wa­ter-sol­u­ble sub­stances, so that they can be eas­ily ex­creted from the body via wa­tery flu­ids such as bile or urine.

The phase-II en­zymes need to func­tion at a rapid rate to neu­tralise the phase-I in­ter­me­di­ates as they are be­ing pro­duced.

How­ever, the ra­tio of phase-I to phase–II ac­tiv­ity may go out of bal­ance due to the el­e­vated phase-I ac­tiv­ity, de­fi­cient func­tion of phaseII, or a com­bi­na­tion of both.

When this hap­pens, the ac­ti­vated harm­ful me­tab­o­lites will build up in the body, re­sult­ing in a vast ar­ray of health prob­lems.

Poor nu­tri­tion, un­healthy life­style habits, in­creased ex­po­sure to tox­ins and ge­net­ics can dis­rupt the del­i­cate bal­ance be­tween the two phases.

Health ben­e­fits of sul­foraphane

Both phase-I and phase-II detox­i­fi­ca­tion re­quire a healthy sup­ply of en­zymes to func­tion prop­erly. Cer­tain food con­tains spe­cific nu­tri­ents that can en­hance the ac­tiv­i­ties of th­ese en­zymes.

Based on the ex­ten­sive stud­ies at the John Hop­kins Univer­sity Med­i­cal School and other pres­ti­gious med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions world­wide, sul­foraphane, the nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring com­pound in cru­cif­er­ous veg­eta­bles, has the abil­ity to mod­u­late the ac­tiv­ity of en­zymes in the liver which en­hances the nat­u­ral detox­i­fi­ca­tion path­ways.

Glu­co­raphanin, the pre­cur­sor of sul­foraphane, can be found in cru­cif­er­ous veg­eta­bles such as broc­coli, cau­li­flower, cab­bage, Brus­sel sprouts, mus­tard and kale.

It is mostly found in broc­coli sprouts which con­tain 20 to 50 times more of th­ese phy­to­chem­i­cals than the ma­ture broc­coli.

Once con­sumed, the my­rosi­nase en­zyme trans­forms glu­co­raphanin into sulphoraphane.

Sul­foraphane sends a sig­nal to the in­di­vid­ual cel­lu­lar en­zymes that switch on over 200 genes of the cell-de­fence sys­tem.

It turns on the DNA in each cell to pro­duce a range of an­tiox­i­dant com­pounds and detox­i­fi­ca­tion en­zymes. Sul­foraphane works as a po­tent cat­a­lyst to el­e­vate phase-II detox­i­fi­ca­tion en­zymes to detox­ify car­cino­gens, the detri­men­tal can­cer-caus­ing com­pounds.

Raw broc­coli, com­pared to cooked broc­coli, has higher bioavaibil­ity and is bet­ter ab­sorbed by the body, giv­ing us more of th­ese whole­some sul­foraphane phy­to­chem­i­cals.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­search pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Agri­cul­tural and Food Chem­istry, the level of sul­foraphane in broc­coli is re­duced by 90% when the veg­etable is cooked. Cook­ing locks sul­foraphane in, mak­ing it un­avail­able to our bod­ily needs.

Hence, a more con­ve­nient and ef­fec­tive way to reap the ben­e­fits of sul­foraphane is through di­etary sup­ple­ments which pro­vide stan­dard­ised ex­tracts of sul­foraphane.

This ar­ti­cle is brought to you by Vi­taHealth. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact 03-7729 3873.

Glu­coro­phanin is mostly found in broc­coli sprouts which con­tain 20 to 50 times more of th­ese phy­to­chem­i­cals than the ma­ture broc­coli.

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