Pennsylvania State University researchers found in a new study, published this week in the Journal of Functional Foods, that some vegetables like broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower, are great for preventing diseases.

Probably the most unpopular food for kids, vegetables are known for being able to provide an immense amount of nutrients and vitamins to whoever eats them. This new finding suggests that cruciferous vegetables – such as sprouts, broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower – work directly on the gut to make it healthy and prevent toxins and harmful micro-organisms, which continuously surround people and develop hard diseases once they’re inside the human body.

Cruciferous vegetables, Broccoli, Health benefits broccoli, Health benefits green vegetables
Broccoli, like all cruciferous vegetables, has multiple vitamins. Image credit: Simply Recipes

For some people, including some who are not children anymore, it’s challenging even to try approaching vegetables to their mouths. There are others who believe they have to eat large amounts of this green-gold to stay healthy. However, scientists said that they don’t have to eat that much. With just a cup full of sprouts a day to three cups of broccoli is enough. Of course, all is going to vary depending on each people’s organism.

The new research suggests that a daily dose of cruciferous vegetables could prevent all kinds of hard illnesses, beginning from “arthritis” to “heart disease.” The lead researcher, Professor Gary Perdew, considers that this diseases usually begin when someone starts having problems “like a leaky gut,” which would inflame the organ and lead to “other conditions.”

“Three and a half cups is a lot, but it’s not a huge amount, really. We used a variety with about half the amount of this chemical in it, and there are cultivars with twice as much,” Professor Perdew added. “Also, brussels sprouts have three times as much, which would mean a cup of brussels sprouts could get us to the same level.”

In fact, a person could prevent some cancers and Crohn’s Disease – which are related to the inflammation of the gut – by eating broccoli or sprouts. Doctors believe that this study could help as a base to find new ways to treat some other diseases.

Cruciferous vegetables protect your intestines

Researchers wanted to see how cruciferous vegetables affect the intestine. As some previous studies suggest, certain compounds react with the gut receptor once they’re inside the body. So they proceeded to test a mischief to prove precisely which substances respond and how well that represented to the human’s health.

Therefore, scientists investigated genetically-modified mice with a high or low ability for such substance-receptor binding. They supplied them with diets made of up to 15 percent broccoli and saw that those mice fed with the highest amounts of cruciferous vegetables ended having a better health than those who had the lowest doses.

The results revealed that cruciferous vegetables allow mice to have a better tolerance with digestive issues associated with leaky gut and colitis by making stronger their gastrointestinal barrier and protecting their intestines from toxins and pathogens.

Although scientists tested animals, they estimated that humans should eat three-and-a-half cups of broccoli a day to reap the benefits and experience a better health-response as the mice did.

“There are a lot of reasons we want to explore helping with gastrointestinal health,” said Prof Perdew. “Keeping your gut healthy and making sure you have good barrier functions so you’re not getting this leaky effect would be really big.” – the Daily Mail reported.

A mind of green gold

It seems that everything points to a particular compound found in each cruciferous veg – especially broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and sprouts. This organic chemical compound is called indole glucosinolates, which breaks down into other compounds in the stomach, including indolocarbazole or ICZ, and it’s vital for a healthy life and a healthy intestine.

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Kale is packed with vitamin K, just as broccoli is. Image credit: Healthline

When people eat food rich in ICZ, it reacts with a receptor in the gut called Aryl hydrocarbon, or AHR. The receptor helps the body to create a good response in front of certain environmental contaminants, as well as toxin exposure. This also maintaining a healthy balance in the gut flora and enhances host barrier function against “harmful micro-organisms,” but still letting essential nutrients to pass into the system.

“Dioxin, for example, activates this receptor, and if you hyper-activate it with dioxin, it will cause toxicity,” said Prof Perdew. “What we were interested in is: Could you locally activate the receptor naturally at a level that would cause only modest AHR activation in the gut, but not cause systemic activation, which could possibly lead to negative effects?”

Of course, we can find a lot of other compounds in vegetables. Vitamin K, which is found in spinach, kale, and broccoli, maintains the size of the vital organ’s left ventricle, which is responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood around the body.

Source: Journal of Functional Foods