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Can Broccoli Rebuild Your Brain?
It seems like every month, there’s a new “superfood” being touted as the cure for anything and everything. It’s part of a growing trend of food-based preventative medicine. After decades of popping pills and ever-increasing healthcare costs, people are developing much more open minds toward preventative measures built around a healthy diet.
One disease which fills many people with dread is the thought of dementia, or age-related neurodegeneration. Conditions like Alzheimer’s disease fit into this category, and a great deal of interest has developed in recent years over how to prevent it from happening, or reverse its development in people who already have it.
There have been many new developments recently which show promise in this regard, and one of them pertains to an everyday vegetable which might be in your fridge right now: Broccoli, according to some scientists, can help rebuild your brain.
When someone is experiencing a neurodegenerative condition, their neurons (brain cells) become entangled, impeding the normal functioning of these cells. These problems manifest themselves as difficultly with concentration and memory. Over time, they begin hindering normal bodily functions (because everything in the body is ultimately controlled by the brain). Diseases like Alzheimer’s eventually become fatal.
Of course, not everyone experiences this as they get older. Why is this? Why are some people are more genetically predisposed to neurological conditions? Research has shown that lifestyle choices, including diet, play an enormously influential role in whether or not such conditions occur.
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The Evidence for Broccoli
New research has shown that green vegetables are beneficial for preventing all kinds of health problems—including neurodegenerative conditions—and that one of the best greens to choose is broccoli.
It all seems to have something to do with a compound known as sulforaphane. This chemical is known to increase the production of liver enzymes and clear out toxins which accumulate in body. It’s also notable for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. But sulforaphane also appears to play a role in the development of neural stem cells, according a report released by GreenMed Info.
The report cites a Chinese study published in the Genesis medical journal which appears to show that sulforaphane can have a significant effect on the differentiation and proliferation of stem cells in the brain. The researchers tested doses of sulforaphane from 0.25 µM up to 10 µM to see how neural stem cells would react when they were exposed to the chemical. They discovered that the sulforaphane upregulated the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), which helps fight oxidative stress. It also assisted in the expression of proteins in the Wnt pathway, which stimulated the growth and differentiation of neural stem cells.
What does any of that mean in plain English? It means that the sulphorane found in broccoli did indeed help the growth of new neural stem cells, effectively repairing brain tissue.
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Broccoli Cures Alzheimer’s Disease?
Nobody’s saying that. What we’re saying is that the findings in the above study appear to indicate that the sulphorane compound found in many vegetables appears to help boost the development of stem cells in the brain, potentially helping to prevent or reverse certain neurodegenerative and stem cell-related conditions. These are encouraging findings, but much more research needs to be done.
What’s the best way to benefit from all this?
Over 200 foods are known to contain sulphorane, and cruciferous (leafy green) vegetables are widely regarded to be among the best sources. Broccoli stands out for having a particularly high concentration of this compound, but it turns out that broccoli sprouts (the baby form of the vegetable) actually have the highest concentration!
Broccoli has long been considered a superfood by health conscious people and anybody who’s been been paying attention to health and nutrition news. It’s a versatile veggie that makes a great addition to stir-fries and salads alike. The findings of this study are all the more reason to incorporate more of this incredible food into your diet in both its adult and sprout forms. Pick some up the next time you run to the store, and you may be on your way to a healthier life and brain.