Eat your Cruciferous Veggie

Extrapolated from: Beating Cancer with Nutrition by Patrick Quillin

Although the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, taught us 2400 years ago “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, modern medicine has only recently begun to accept the importance of this ancient truth. For instance, researchers in the Cold War era of 1950 fed two different groups of animals either beets or cabbage and then exposed them to radiation. The animals fed cabbage had much less hemorrhaging and death from radiation. But since no one in those days could conceive of a radio-active protective effect of a food, the scientists concluded that  “something in beets makes radioactive exposure more lethal.” (1)  Actually, “something” in cabbage makes radiation much less damaging to healthy tissue.

Cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale, to mention just a few. Among the phytochemicals in cruciferous vegetables that have been researched, sulforaphane is one of the more promising as a cancer fighter. It was Professor Lee Wattenburg of Minnesota who found cabbage extract has the ability to prevent the initiation and promotion of cancer cells.(2) Of the various fractions in cruciferous plants, including indole-3-carbinol, isothiocyanates, glucosinolates, dithiolethiones, and phenols, they are able to:

  • Prevent chemicals from being converted into cancer-causing compounds
  • Induce liver detoxification systems, such as glutathione S-transferase and P-450, to help rid the body of poisons
  • Scavenge free radicals, thus working as an antioxidant
  • Prevent tumor promoters from reaching their cell targets, such as blocking the binding of estrogen-dependent tumors

Be sure to chew your green and cruciferous vegetables well. By doing so, you break open the cell walls of the plants and expose them to the salivary enzymes in our mouth. It is these enzymes that are responsible for transforming the vegetable compounds into the cancer fighting elements for your body.

(1) Lourau, G., et al., Experientia, vol.6, pg. 25, 1950
(2) Wattenburg, LW, Cancer Res. (suppl) vol.52, p. 2085S, 1992.

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