The sulforaphane benefits: fact or fiction ?

The sulforaphane benefits are countless! Wouldn’t you be interested if I said you can fight cancer, delay aging and improve brain function just by adding one thing to your diet ? Interested in all the health benefits of sulforaphane?
You would be right.

Well, in this article we are going to dive into the details and see what sulforaphane is all about.

Scroll down so we can explain how it all works 😉

The nrf2 pathway

One of the main sulforaphane benefits is that it’s a very powerful activator of the pathway nrf2. This pathway regulates over 200 different genes, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory genes. It has a great effect on preventing cancer and cardiovascular diseases and it improves brain function.

Sulforaphane has also shown to better the excretion of carcinogens (any substance, radionuclide or radiation that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer). You can get sulforaphane from all members of the cruciferous vegetable family. (vegetables of the family brassicaceae).

Broccoli, cauliflower and bak choy are a few examples. We will show you a sustainable way to get your daily dose of between 40-60mg of sulforaphane. This is because there is a super vegetable when it comes to sulforaphane. We’ll explain later on what vegetable it is.

sulforaphane benefits, sulforaphane infographic, sulforaphane benefits infographic

The effects of sulforaphane against cancer

A study published in 2011 has shown that at the top 20% of people that eat vegetables there was a decrease of all cause mortality by about 16%. The people of that group who ate a lot of cruciferous vegetables had a decrease of about 22%. Basically it means you might live a few years longer.

Impressive right ?

Well, this is just one of the sulforaphane benefits that’s actually pretty impressive. Another experiment done on men has shown that the men who ate one serving per week of cruciferous vegetables in comparison to the men who only had one serving a month,the risk of getting prostate cancer went down by a staggering 41%. These are amazing numbers for sure.

There was also a study done on smokers that concluded that the people who had more than 4.5 servings of raw cruciferous vegetables per month had a 55% decrease of lung cancer risk compared to those who had less than 2.5 servings per month. You might want to think about adding at least 4.5 raw portions to your monthly diet.

Multiple studies done on women with breast cancer show that women who have at least one serving of cruciferous vegetables per month the risk of death by breast cancer decreases between 17 and 51%. This probably depends on the vegetables being fresh or frozen. Frozen vegetables are less bio-available than fresh vegetables.

I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say these are some extremely powerful sulforaphane benefits!

But there’s more..

People with blatter cancer that had 4 servings of raw brocolli per month had a 57% decrease of blatter cancer mortality and a decrease of 43% of all cause mortality.

How does it work?

broccoli sprouts, sulforaphane

The link between the consumption of cruciferous vegetables and these impressive statistics is most probably the isothiocyanates. These isothiocyanates are formed from compounds known as glucosinolates through an enzyme called myrosinase.

This enzyme activates when you crush, chop or chew these cruciferous vegetables. It inactivates when you boil it or when it comes in contact with high heat. We recommend to eat these vegetables raw so you take full advantage of these . A kale shake is a great example.

The most promising out of these isothiocynates is definitely sulforaphane which is formed by the glucosinolate ”glucoraphanin”. We mentioned before that you can find glucoraphanin in cruciferous vegetables but broccoli sprouts are by far the best.

They contain 100 times more glucoraphanin then it’s older brother broccoli. So if you want to up your levels of sulforaphane, broccoli sprouts are the way to go. We will update a blogpost on how you can grow these at home easily very soon.

Basically it means that cruciferous vegetables contain glucoraphanin, when you chop/chew these vegetables, it activates the enzyme myrosinase which forms sulforaphane out of the glucoraphanin.

Now:

By now you know that the sulforaphane benefits are so amazing they can even reduce cancer risk and kill cancer cells. One mechanism of prevention is the deactivation of phase 1 biotransformation enzymes. These enzymes are responsible for converting procarcinogens ( precursor of carinogens) into active carcinogens. As you can see the sulforaphane benefits are very diverse. They even prevent DNA-adducts, a type of DNA damage shown to lead to cancer.

It really is a powerful substance.. Keep reading to get to know all the sulforaphane benefits!

A study done on men with prostate cancer has shown that when these men were given 60mg of sulforaphane a day, it slowed down the doubling rate of the cancer by 86%. In another trial, instead of using 60mg they used 35mg of sulforaphane a day. The resulst were also impressive, the doubling rate of the biomarkers of the cancer slowed down by 57%. This shows that the dose of sulforaphane will determine how much effect it will actually have. Your daily dose should be between 40-60 mg of sulforaphane so you can take advantage of the sulforaphane benefits to the fullest.

One experiment done on women with breast cancer, has shown that when they were given a dose of sulforaphane, you could actually see that the gene NQ01 was found in higher levels around the breast area. The amazing thing about this gene is that it prevents the degression of p53.

Why is this important ?

Because over 50% of all adult cancers have a broken or mutated p53 gene.

Previously, we have told you that sulforaphane deactivates phase 1 biotransformation enzymes, but this is not all. Besides this obviously beneficial deactivation, because these enzymes are responsible for converting procarcinogens into active carcinogens, it also activates a family of enzymes known as phase 2 detoxification enzymes. These can deactivate procarcinogenic agents among many other things.

In a study where people were given 300 grams of broccoli sprouts a day, the DNA damage was lowered by 28% . This is very important because often DNA damage is the cause of cancer. Another benefit is that glucoraphanin has a profound impact on the excretion of benzene from the body. Again, It is found in cruciferous vegetables…

Sounds great right?

But there are more sulforaphane benefits!  In an experiment where people got a drink which had about 265 mg of glucoraphanin and about 7.1mg of sulforaphane every day, it increased the excretion of benzene by 61%. The results were visible after the first day and kept on until the 12-day experiment was over.

If you didn’t know already, benzene is a very harmful substance for humans as well as animals. Benzine pollution comes from the transportation vehicles we use nowadays. Tobacco also has benzene in it when set on fire. People who smoke will have an average daily consumption of benzene of about 2mg. Non-smokers on the other hand only take in about 0.2mg of benzene daily.

However:

As a non-smoker you still want to excrete the amount of benzene you take in because it causes cancer. Leukemia is one of the diseases associated with a regular intake of benzene. Trying to avoid such a disease is obviously very important so get that sulforaphane pumpin’!

One of the sulforaphane benefits that might be less known is that Acrolein, which is another carcinogen, gets excreted way better when supplementing with sulforaphane. This substance got a boost of excretion by 23% during the 12-day experiment.

A study even showed that when drinking a broccoli sprout beverage containing 27 mg of sulforaphane, the excretion of benzene, acrolein, ethylene oxide, and chrotonaldehyde got sped up by 20-50%. These are all harmful compounds, which shows again one of the sulforaphane benefits.

The sulforaphane benefits are even effective against cardiovascular disease.

The trial that showed that all cause mortality went down by 21% was mainly because of the effect of sulforaphane on cardiovascular disease. This is also the highest cause of death in the united states. In fact, it’s a serious issue all over the world. Multiple studies have actually shown that a higher intake of raw cruciferous vegetables equates to less cardiovascular diseases. On top of that there’s a decrease in heart attacks and strokes. Awesome right?

Now we’re starting to see the link between isothiocynates and its effect on diseases such as cancer.

But what about diabetes?

One study done on people with type2-diabetes, where they got 10g of broccoli sprout powder a day, showed that their serumtriglyceride was lowered by 18.7% and their levels of oxidized ldl went down by 13.5%. This is very beneficial as these are disturbing substances and cause diabetes issues. These numbers are again very impressive indicators of the many sulforaphane benefits.

Can sulforaphane slow down the aging process ?

age, young kid, sulforaphane

In an experiment done on the red flour beattle, where they gave it a diet which consisted of 1% broccoli extract, it increased the beattle’s mean life span by 15% under normal conditions. It increased by 30% when they were living under extreme conditions. Again it is due to the nrf2 pathway. Off course this does not prove that it will have the same effects on humans. Nevertheless, it is another reason to do more research on the substance.

Uhm.. it slows aging?

Well, a study has shown that the biggest factor to make it to 100 summers is the suppression of inflammation. This is exactly where the nrf2 pathway comes in, since it activates over 200 genes that are anti-inflammatory.

On top of that:

Reducing inflammation also links to having better cognitive function and mobility. So we know already that to prolong your lifespan you want to keep inflammation at a minimum.

Another trial done on mice, has shown that when they were subjected to systemic inflammation the mice would age faster by 30%.

By now you probably understand that inflammation has a direct impact on the aging process.

Normally, the nrf2-pathway activates every 129 minutes. However, when you take in raw cruciferous vegetables on a daily basis it activates every 80 minutes.

Now why would this be important ?

Because you activate the nrf2-pathway faster than normally so it can work more often. As said before the nrf2-pathway contains over 200 genes that are anti-inflammatory.

Now your body activates these genes every 80 minutes instead of every 129.

Sulforaphane might even be a promising solution to people struggling with hairloss. In a study done on mice they injected mice with a dose of sulforaphane. The results are incredible because the regrowth of the hair accelerated by 50%. Forgot about those shampoos that claim to regrow your hair… just get your daily dose of sulforaphane and get comfortable again.

The correlation between sulforaphane and brain function

brain function, thinking, sulforaphane benefits

One of the sulforaphane benefits is that it can also have a positive effect on brain function and general behavior. This is because research has shown that inflammation has a big impact on brain function and behavior. The nrf2 pathway is the most effective pathway in the body to reduce oxidative stress. Therefore it is highly plausible that sulforaphane will have a direct impact on the brain.

It helps people with autism?

It does. In a experiment done on young men aged between 13-27 who had autism, they were given a daily dose of 9-25mg of sulforaphane. It shows that the young men improved social interaction, abnormal behavior and verbal communication.

What about schizophrenia?

In another study the subjects were given 30mg a day of glucoraphanin, the precursor to sulforaphane. For 8 weeks a small group of medicated schizophrenia patients were tested while supplementing with glucoraphanin. The results of this trial show that it was effective in improving certain scores of cognitive impairment.

Depression is another problem that we deal with on a large scale in a modern day society. Studies have shown that 10% of all American citizens take some kind of anti-depressants. It would be nice if we could solve this problem by simply changing their nutrition.

But is it possible ?

In one trial they injected healthy man with a substance called lipopolysaccharide. This should activate a strong immune response (inflammation). After the injection the men started showing depressive symptoms.

What’s the bottom line?

From this information you can conclude that inflammation has an effect on people’s mindstate. Upping your dose of sulforaphane can help you deal with depression or maybe even get rid of it completely.

Now it’s time to implement what you’ve learned

Now that you know many of the sulforaphane benefits, you might want to incorporate them in your diet.

The best way to do this is to consume broccoli sprouts. They are easy to grow yourself and they contain more than 100x more sulforaphane compared to raw broccoli. It is also the plant that has the highest amount of sulforaphane.

Remember, sulforaphane has to be obtained by activating the enzyme myrosinase so therefore if you use supplements that don’t contain myrosinase you won’t benefit from it.

You will notice a huge change in your life once you start upping your sulforaphane. You will have more energy and less pain.

What more would you want ?

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