Broccoli really is a superfood

By Nathan Jeffery, ND, BSc.

Free radicals and chemicals are everywhere. For many, this may pose a significant challenge to reaching personal health and wellness goals. Luckily the body has many pathways to neutralize and clear them. There are times when a person may benefit from some additional nutrients to support these elimination pathways. Broccoli and other members of the cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, and kale have powerful antioxidant capabilities. The phytonutrient responsible for these properties is called sulforaphane glucosinolate (SGS). Interestingly it has to be converted to its active form by our gut bacteria! This is a wonderful example on how your good gut bacteria helps to promote health and detoxification.

At the cellular level, sulforaphane modulates expression of detoxifying and antioxidant genes. SGS increases phase 2 detoxification in the liver. This is important because Phase 2 detoxification takes toxic waste products and neutralizes them for elimination from the body. SGS may also provide a form protection for some cancers. This may be due through the elimination of toxic waste products that if not dealt with could cause damage to our genetic material. A diet of 3 to 5 servings of broccoli or related vegetables per week may decrease your risk of cancer by about 30-40%.

It turns out that broccoli sprouts offer the highest amount of SGS in food. Mashed cauliflower or broccoli is also a great way to get SGS in food. This also offers a great alternative to mashed potatoes because it does not increase blood sugar. Cauliflower can also be used to make a great gluten free great pizza crust!

Not only do we need food for caloric and nutrient value, food also influences our genes. Therefore it’s also beneficial to view food as information that can communicate with our internal programming to support optimum health. Broccoli is a great example that food really is medicine.

References

Tortorella SM, Royce SG, Licciardi PV, Karagiannis TC. Dietary Sulforaphane in Cancer Chemoprevention: The Role of Epigenetic Regulation and HDAC Inhibition. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling. 2015;22(16):1382-1424. doi:10.1089/ars.2014.6097.

Jeffery EH, Keck AS.Translating knowledge generated by epidemiological and in vitro studies into dietary cancer prevention. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 Jun;52 Suppl 1:S7-17.

 

Choosing a quality probiotic

With the school season quickly approaching we also see an increase in the cold virus. Prevention is key and a probiotic is a great starting point for some additional immune support. It is important to understand that not all probiotics are created equal. I have found that most people choose a probiotic based on a mega dose, price or whatever is available. 

There are a lot of factors that go into picking out a quality probiotic. Below are some things to look for when choosing a high-quality probiotic:

  • Look for specific probiotics that have clinical research. 
  • Look for a strain code next to the name and look for research supporting your health concern.
  • Look for human strains. These tend to have more research for specific conditions.
  • Look for strains that are not killed by your stomach acid. Mode of delivery (capsules, fortified yogurt, powder) is not as important if you have acid resistant strains of probiotics. 
  • The CFU level should be guaranteed up to the date of expiration

In a study published in the journal Pediatrics (2009), Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM was found to reduce incidences of fever, runny nose and duration of colds in children. Kids that took this probiotic along with Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 had even better results! Antibiotic use was decreased with this combination. 

Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is another specific strain of bacteria showing promise for immune support. In another article published by Pediatrics (2010) this strain was found to reduce incidences of gut and respiratory infections at a pediatric hospital. 

As we learn more about the microbiome and its role in health outside the gut we will see specific strains of probiotics being used for a variety of other health concerns in the near future. Although probiotics have a very good safety profile it is important to check with a health provider and focus on prevention by supporting overall health. 

By Dr. Nathan Jeffery, ND, BSc.

References: 

Probiotic Effects on Cold and Influenza-Like Symptom Incidence and Duration in Children Gregory J. Leyer, Shuguang Li, Mohamed E. Mubasher, Cheryl Reifer, Arthur C. Ouwehand. Pediatrics Aug 2009, 124 (2) e172-e179; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2008-2666

Lactobacillus GG in the Prevention of Nosocomial Gastrointestinal and Respiratory Tract Infections Iva Hojsak, Slaven Abdović, Hania Szajewska, Milan Milošević, Željko Krznarić, Sanja Kolaček. Pediatrics May 2010, 125 (5) e1171-e1177; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-2568

The emerging new connection between the gut microbiome and the brain.

By Nathan Jeffery, ND, BSc.

It is now well accepted that certain good bacteria can be extremely useful for digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or to recover after antibiotics. We also know that healthy gut bacteria can provide us with important micronutrients like vitamin K. Recently there has been some interesting research indicating that the good bacteria in our gut can benefit our mind. In the clinical setting people regularly report that when they take probiotics or recover from digestive problems they feel more mentally alert and clear.

There are many ways good bacteria could influence our mind. A dysfunctional gut lining can produce inflammation which could contribute to fatigue and low mood. It is well known that micro-nutrients like B12, other B vitamins and folate also influence our mind. A healthy gut is critical for the absorption of these nutrients. Altering the gut microbiome is a critical step to repairing a dysfunctional gut lining. Bacteria also produce chemical messengers that may be absorbed into our body. They may produce GABA, serotonin or peptide based chemical messengers. It is thought that these chemical messengers may stimulate particular regions of the brain through the vagus nerve. Some researchers had found that those who took probiotics, showed changes in blood flow to regions of the brain involving emotion and sensation.

The health applications of probiotics may also be species specific. Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 species was recently found to decrease depression scores and limbic system activity in those with IBS.

The therapeutic applications for probiotics are continuing to expand. We expect to see new information on the roles of probiotics in our bodies and applications for health purposes in the very near future. As the research unfolds, we will keep updated and share this fascinating information.

References:

Consumption of Fermented Milk Product With Probiotic Modulates Brain Activity. Tillisch, Kirsten et al. Gastroenterology , Volume 144 , Issue 7 , 1394 - 1401.e4

Probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 Reduces Depression Scores and Alters Brain Activity: a Pilot Study in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Pinto-Sanchez, Maria Ines et al. Gastroenterology , Volume 0 , Issue 0,