Your Best Defense Against Cancer?


Broccoli is rapidly coming to the forefront of clinical research as possessing potent anti-cancer properties. Seems like Mom had it right all along when she said to “eat your greens.” What is it about this cruciferous vegetable that could make it your best defense against cancer, a disease expected to strike 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in their lifetime?

The science of sulforaphane

Sulforaphane is the bioactive compound found in broccoli—with the greatest concentrations found in broccoli sprouts—and sulforaphane is the star of numerous studies.

Researchers reporting in the journal Clinical Epigenetics state that sulforaphane “induces potent anti-proliferative effects in prostate cancer cells” an effect the lead author attributes to “how sulforaphane may regulate gene expression.”

When it comes to disease, is your DNA your destiny?

While our DNA does not change, the field of epigenetics explores how a network of chemical switches within our cells is influenced by diet, toxins and other environmental factors. This is why identical twins—who share the exact same DNA—can develop very different health outcomes, based on how much a gene is expressed or activated.

This gene expression can play a powerful role in our susceptibility or resistance to many diseases. Randy Jirtle of Duke University Medical Center described the epigenome as, “…like the software that tells the computer (your gene) when to work, how to work, and how much.”

The role of sulforaphane in epigenetics

The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University recently discovered yet another reason why sulforaphane in broccoli is so good for you—it provides not one but two ways to prevent cancer through the complex mechanism of epigenetics.

“It appears that DNA methylation and HDAC inhibition, both of which can be influenced by sulforaphane, work in concert with each other to maintain proper cell function,” said Emily Ho, an associate professor in the Linus Pauling Institute and the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

Emily Ho continued, “Cancer is very complex and it’s usually not just one thing that has gone wrong. It’s increasingly clear that sulforaphane is a real multi-tasker. The more we find out about it, the more benefits it appears to have.”

How to increase your sulforaphane intake

How can you add this defender to your diet? While broccoli is readily available in grocery stores, it may sound unpalatable to discover you have to eat it raw to get the full benefits of sulforaphane.

The phytonutrients—like sulforaphane—found in vegetables only make it to your plate when:

  • Grown in nutrient-dense soils (with no pesticides or herbicides)
  • Harvested at the peak of ripeness (not ripened on the truck ride)
  • Go from farm to table quickly (in days not weeks)
  • Raw: since any food heated over 116° destroys nutrients

And that’s assuming you like broccoli. For the non-veggie types out there, the idea of chewing on broccoli every day can be a little hard to swallow. Since less than 10% of us get the recommended 5-9 servings of fruit and veggies a day, supplements can help fill the gap. But which supplements?

Take a look at Touchstone Essentials’ Supergreens + D. It comes with a proprietary blend of nutrient-rich organic greens—barley, parsley, spinach—that specialize in raising the body’s pH to an alkaline environment and organic broccoli for sulforaphane. And since greens can be hard to digest, it also has added digestive enzymes so there’s no uncomfortable bloating.

Supergreens +D goes beyond the greens by also including over 5 billion probiotics for digestive and immune support. This is especially important since up to 80% of your immune system resides in your gut. This superfood supplement rounds out with 2,000 IUs of organic vitamin D for overall health and vitality.

Broccoli is a superfood that should make it on to your plate whenever possible. Not only is it full of essential vitamins and minerals, it’s a rich source of sulforaphane which research suggests is a potent cell protector. For non-veggie types, try broccoli-filled capsules in supplement form which may be easier to swallow each day.

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