Broccoli May Slow Age Decline

A foundational aspect of a healthy diet is to eat plenty of fresh vegetables.  A healthy diet can help to lower your risk for many chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.  This is especially ideal if you eat organic foods to avoid pesticides and GMO’s.

Vegetables contain antioxidants and disease-fighting compounds that you won’t find in other foods and are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber.  Inflammation can be reduced with phytochemicals and eliminate carcinogens. Others regulate cell reproduction, apoptosis and DNA maintenance. A potent anti-aging effect is in certain plant compounds.  Broccoli is probably best known for its anti-cancer activity that also contains an enzyme that researchers believe may slow age-related decline in health by restoring your metabolism to more youthful levels.  A basic premise of aging is that as you age, your cells’ ability to produce energy declines and cell repair and maintenance declines as well. Degeneration then sets in.

The enzyme nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) plays a role in producing nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which is a compound involved in mitochondrial health and energy metabolism.  Research has shown that your body loses its capacity to create NAD with age. When NMN is dissolved and administered in water, it takes 3 minutes for the compound to appear in the blood. There it is quickly converted into NAD in multiple tissues.

For health and longevity, eat your greens!  NMN is also found in cucumbers, cabbage, avocado, and other green vegetables.  Studies have shown that people with higher vegetable intake has lower risks of high blood pressure and stroke, lower risks of certain types of cancer, reduced risk of kidney stones and bone loss, higher scores on cognitive tests, higher antioxidant levels, lower biomarkers for oxidative stress, lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease, lower risk for eye diseases and fewer digestive problems.

Research has revealed the following list of health benefits associated with broccoli such as osteoarthritis, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and allergies.  Water and nutrient-rich veggies, as well as broccoli, also support healthy liver function, which in turn promotes optimal functioning of your natural detoxification systems. Broccoli also contains a good source of healthy fiber, which is broken down into short-chain fatty acids by your gut bacteria that have been shown to lessen your risk of inflammatory diseases.  

Broccoli is most well known for its anti-cancer activity, an effect attributed to a naturally occurring sulfur compound called sulforaphane.  Some researchers have suggested broccoli as a key part of an anti-cancer diet. A study recommended that 3 or 4 servings of broccoli per week were found to reduce men’s risk of prostate cancer by more than 60%, a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli also lowered the risk of bladder cancer in men by as much as 50%.  Men with detectable amounts of isothiocyanates in their bodies had a 36% lower chance of developing lung cancer over 10 years. Also, eating broccoli 3 to 5 times per week has been shown to lower the risk of liver cancer, and to help prevent the development of the nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Research also shows that sulforaphane can kill cancer stem cells, thereby slowing tumor growth, helping to detoxify carcinogens, causes apoptosis in colon, prostate, breast and tobacco-induced lung cancer cells, reduces the number of reactive oxygen species molecules that cause cell damage by as much as 73%, plays a role in activating more than 200 different genes, and normalizes DNA methylation.  Sulforaphane may also benefit autistic children.

Other compounds found in broccoli that are health-promoting are glucoraphanin, phenolic compounds, diindolylmethane, vitamins, and minerals.

If you lightly steam your broccoli it will boost the sulforaphane content.  Ideally, try to use fresh broccoli. Adding myrosinase-containing food such as mustard seed, daikon radishes, wasabi, arugula, and cole slaw can further optimize the sulforaphane content.  So grab that broccoli and make it part of your diet. It’s your choice to delay that aging and those chronic health risks that accompany that aging.

–Dr Fredda Branyon