We’re going to learn a new word today. “Nutrigenomics” is a term I believe you are going to be hearing a lot more about in the next few years. Nutrigenomics refers to the science of how nutritious food can “turn on” good genes and “turn off” bad genes.
For instance, say diabetes runs in your family. If that is the case, it is quite likely that you carry certain genes that make you more likely to develop diabetes as well. However, science is finding that in many cases, genetics is not destiny. If you eat bioactive foods that work with your metabolism instead of against it–as well as foods that influence gene expression in a positive direction– you may be able to prevent (or at least decrease the risk of developing) diabetes and other “genetic” diseases.
One of the best bioactive foods on the planet are broccoli sprouts. As many of you already know, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are powerful sources of enzymes and nutrients that promote health and combat disease. However, broccoli sprouts deliver even more of these disease-fighting compounds, including one that acts on a genetic level.
Sulforaphane — A Super Nutrient That is Key to Health
Broccoli sprouts are especially rich in a substance called sulforaphane, which numerous studies have shown to be one of the most beneficial plant-based molecules when it comes to human health. When consumed in sufficient amounts, sulforaphane plays a key role in supporting cellular processes, improving cellular detoxification, and protecting against oxidative stress and inflammation.
In fact, numerous studies have found that sulforaphane has shown promise in treating a wide range of conditions including gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disease, and even autism. Understanding how sulforaphane works at the cellular level can help illustrate why this compound is so biochemically versatile.
Scientists believe sulforaphane is a potent activator of a cellular defense mechanism known as Nrf2. Put simply, when this genetic switch is triggered, then a vast number of beneficial enzymes and molecules are upregulated, which means they are made available in abundance. As a result, these beneficial cellular molecules can scavenge for free radicals and metabolize toxins.
Amazingly, sulforaphane helps keep metabolic pathways open that allow cells to expel environmental toxins, but at the same time, it blocks enzymes that can promote cancers. Now, that, what I call a win-win.
Sulforaphane supports health in so many ways and it is an especially bioavailable molecule too. Unlike many other nutritive supplements, 80 percent of the compound consumed is actually absorbed and used by the body. And there is virtually no better source of this vital nutrient than the humble but delectable broccoli sprout.
Growing Your Own Super Sprouts
Broccoli sprouts have been shown to help people regulate blood sugar, improve liver function, and detoxify environmental chemical exposures. I encourage everyone to add this delicious and healthy superfood to their diet.
You can buy broccoli sprout at most health food stores but the best way to enjoy this delicacy is to grow or sprout your own. All it takes is a mason jar, some broccoli seeds, a little water, and a few days.
You can learn more about ordering, growing, and sprouting broccoli sprouts from Sproutpeople, a leader in providing organic a GMO-free seeds. They sell seeds and a variety of simple sprouting kits available that make the process even easier and more fun. They also have some great resources, including instructional videos, educational info, and recipes, which will get you started with this very healthy activity.
Dr. Joshua Levitt