Broccoli may be good for the gut.

Image: © iStock Photo / bhofack2

Image: © iStock Photo / bhofack2

Team: Gary Perdew, Troy D. Hubbard, Iain Murray, Robert Nichols, Kaitlyn Cassel, Michael Podolsky, Guray Kuzu, Yuan Tian, Philip Smith, Mary Kennett, Andrew Patterson

Gastrointestinal problems such as a leaky gut can lead to inflammation, which can then lead to other conditions, such as arthritis and heart disease. It’s important to maintain a good intestinal barrier because this helps protect the intestines from toxins and harmful microorganisms, while allowing nutrients to pass into the system.

In a study, when mice ate broccoli with their regular diet, they were better able to tolerate digestive issues similar to symptoms of leaky gut and colitis than mice that were fed a typical diet. Other cruciferous vegetables, like brussels sprouts and cauliflower, may have similar gut health properties. The key to the process may be the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) in the gut, which helps regulate the body’s reaction to certain environmental contaminants and triggers responses to toxins.

The research team found that cruciferous vegetables contain an organic chemical compound called indole glucosinolate, which breaks down into other compounds, including indolocarbazole (ICZ), in the stomach. When ICZ binds to and activates the AHR in the intestinal lining, it helps maintain a healthy balance in the gut flora and enhances host barrier function. This may help prevent diseases, such as various cancers and Crohn’s disease, caused by inflammation in the lining of the gut.

Humans would have to eat about 3.5 cups of broccoli each day to experience a similar effect. That’s a fairly large amount, but some varieties of broccoli have twice as much of the protective chemical as the variety the team tested. Brussels sprouts have three times as much of the chemical, which would mean a daily cup of brussels sprouts could get us to the same protective level.

Funding

USDA NIFA and Hatch Appropriations

News

Like it or not: Broccoli may be good for the gut

Thematic Area

Integrated Health Solutions

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Office for Research and Graduate Education

Address

217 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802-2600