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The Answer to Optimal Detoxification Lies in Broccoli
By Tom Maltere, MS, CN

We've all heard our grandmothers say "Eat your broccoli!" Grandma was more right than she may have ever imagined; a person need only venture into an internet search for seconds before they see broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussel's sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale) touted as some of the most important foods to eat on the planet, especially concerning detoxification. With the latest research showing that almost everyone has numerous toxins in their blood, there is no one who doesn't need a little detoxification assistance. And it appears the more of these you eat, the better off you are.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine found that these vegetables contain a potent sulphur-containing chemical called sulforaphane that can turn on our genes and cause them to produce both antioxidant, and detoxification enzymes*. When we eat raw broccoli, our chewing enables the release of an enzyme, myrosinase, which is trapped in the cell walls of this plant. The enzyme facilitates the removal of a glucose molecule from the sulphur compound SGS (sulforaphane glucosinolate) turning it into the active compound called sulforaphane. When you cook cruciferous vegetables by boiling or microwaving, you can significantly reduce the activity of the myrosinase enzyme, leaving less of the active sulforaphane available after you eat the vegetables. Eating the vegetables raw, or lightly steamed is optimal, as it will preserve the enzyme activity, and having healthy bacteria in your intestines will help as well. It turns out that intestinal bacteria can produce myrosinase and activate sulforaphane in the intestines.

When you have adequate sulforaphane in your body, the results can be miraculous. Once in a cell, it can bind to something called Keap1 that then releases a nuclear transcription factor called nrf2. When free from Keap1, nrf2 travels to the nucleus of the cell and binds to the antioxidant response element (ARE) and activates the transcription of those genes. This is the area of our genetics that contain some of the most potent antioxidant and detoxification enzymes known to man.

The enzymes responsible for phase-II detoxification are the most researched. As you may recall, detoxification in the liver primarily involves two steps. The first step, phase-I, takes harmful substances and activates them (usually by adding a hydroxyl group), and prepares them for phase-II. In the second phase, (via sulfation, methylation, glucuronidation, and other conjugation reactions), a substance is attached to the reactive phase I substance that makes it less reactive and more able to be excreted out of the body.

If you have phase-I working at normal or accelerated rates, and phase-II running slow, you end up with a host of reactive substances building up in the body that have no way of fi nding a way out. Ideally, you want to have phase-II working well at all times. To date, researchers have found no better compound in nature to accomplish this than sulforaphane. In fact, numerous companies are rushing through trials trying to produce a sulforaphane analogue that can mimic its signifi cant phase-II enzyme activity.

So far, nature is still on top with broccoli seed extracts having the highest SGS and sulforaphane activity available. If you plan on eating your SGS, make sure it is coming from raw or lightlysteamed broccoli, Brussel's sprouts, cauliflower, or cabbage. Consuming 1-3 servings per day (and ideally over a pound a day) seems to be the point when all the long-term benefi ts are most significant. If you are not a fan of eating that many vegetables, the SGS-labeled products like Crucera-SGS from Thorne Research, contains the equivalent SGS of two pounds of broccoli in every capsule. The sulforaphane glucosinolate in Crucera-SGS is exclusively available through Brassica Protection Products, LLC, under master license from Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine. Only products available from Brassica can carry the SGS logo.

So the next time you find yourself sucking down diesel fumes on the highway, or inhaling carpet fumes in a new hotel room, reach for your broccoli, and tell grandma how much you love her.

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