Eat Your Broccoli

Our parents used to scold us when we were children. Eating our vegetables was supposedly important to our growth. Whether we liked it or not, we were lead to believe that things like broccoli were good for us. As it turns out, the leafy green vegetable is not only great for your body, but it promotes a healthy gut.

Researchers from Penn State have discovered that those who choose to incorporate a healthy diet of broccoli into their everyday meals are better able to tolerate digestive issues such as a leaky guy and colitis. The testing was used on mice; those who were not given a steady diet of broccoli were not able to endure common problems in the system. In fact, Gary Perdew, a Professor in Agricultural Studies at Penn State, noted that other vegetables, such as Brussel’s sprouts and cauliflower have comparable health properties. Yum!

Perdew also adds that, “there are a lot of reasons that we should be exploring gastrointestinal health. If you have problems, like a leaky gut, that may lead to other conditions, like arthritis and heart disease.” It is no secret that including a rich diet of vegetables into our meals is far from a bad idea. Keeping our internal organs, such as our gut, healthy may extend our lifespan. Perdew and his team also note that a heavy diet of vegetables allows your gut to build healthy barrier functions that deter things like a leaky gut or colitis. A healthy intestinal function means that all nutrients would be able to properly pass into our system and not get blocked or clogged, which can cause severe internal concerns.

Get Your ICZs

By now, it should be common knowledge that vegetables, especially ones like broccoli, that are eaten on a regular basis, are not only good to keep weight off and fight illnesses, but also are healthy for our entire body. Perdew and his team identified broccoli as especially important due to its health benefits on our gut and intestinal systems. Although, we do not think about our internal organs very often, protecting them can prevent a majority of harmful diseases and cancers, such as colon cancer.

Vegetables that are cruciferous include a compound called indolocarbazole or ICZ. When consumed, ICZ attach to the lining of our immune system to maintain a healthy balance in our gut, which means fewer cases of common diseases in the bowel and colon. Another vegetable identified as great for your intestines is cabbage.

But, how much broccoli should we eat each day to ensure that our intestinal system is protected? Researchers have concluded that this number varies from person to person. However, for most humans, the amount comparable to Perdew’s experiment should eat around 3.5 cups of broccoli each day. This number may sound like a lot, but it’s not large considering we should be eating vegetables anyway. Adding other healthy vegetables into your diet adds to the protection as well. So, if you are not a fan of broccoli, feel free to consume that same amount of Brussel’s sprouts or cabbage each day to meet the level needed to activate the ICZ that may be needed to correct digestive problems.

While patients are often told that too many cruciferous vegetables may be a cause for more concern than good because of fiber content, Perdew and his team are confident in their findings which suggest otherwise.

The Key To More Nutritious Crops

mixed selection of fruit and vegetables

Researchers are trying to figure out how the hundred tons of crops that are yielded on a daily basis can actually produce more nutritious produce. Whether it is from a specific soil or process, there is much interest to be had in how photosynthesis positively affects the type of crops that are produced for biofuels. A plant’s circulatory system is integral in the type of nutritional components that are infused into the food. When more nutrients are available, it improves the taste of the produce and the ability for it to positively impact human consumption.

Washington State University researchers started studying the correlation between the plant nutrients that were comprised via photosynthesis. The researchers found a unique and critical structure where the nutrients are offloaded, giving science a new focal point in efforts to improve plant efficiency and productivity.

“If you can increase the sink strength by five percent, and you get five percent  more product, you’d be looking at a multibillion-dollar market,” says professor of biological sciences at the WSU School of Biological Sciences, Michael Knoblauch. “What we eat is mostly fruits, roots and seeds, cereals and so on. And all this stuff is not at the place of photosynthesis. It’s at the place of unloading. So everything generated by photosynthesis is basically translocated to these so-called sinks. The unloading mechanism is a very important step because it determines how much a specific sink gets. So if we are able to modify the so-called sink strength, we can basically modify what fruit or root gets more.”

Batch Unloading

This can potentially have amazing effects in the ways of nutrition – an ongoing discovery for so many on the quest to improving their health and figuring out what types of vitamins and minerals they should be consuming on a regular basis. A recent analysis of a mustard plant showed how the growing roots and solutes could be transported and transmuted into neighboring cells.

While some molecules unload via a type of combined diffusion, others make their way through convection. Sugar must travel from a high concentration to low, via a process called plasmodesmata, which involves two pores connecting with cells close by. These pores provide the ability to have a specific flow resistance, which means they can release a necessary amount of discrete pulses which is referred to as “batch unloading.”

In order for these processes to make sense to researchers and scientists there must be an overarching understanding of the plant’s circulatory system, which more insights are beginning to make clearer as time goes on. It is a very intricate and elegant system. The more that is pulled the more that is then received. Knoblauch says: “If we are able to increase the sink strength of a specific sink of interest, then we can draw to this sink more nutrients of interest. If we want to make a tomato fruit a stronger sink by modifying phloem unloading – plant tissue that conducts metabolic products downwards from leaves – we draw more of the nutrients to the fruit and make more fruit product.”

The more this is readily researched, the more we can understand what’s required to shift how the produce that we consume grows to be even healthier and as nutritionally sound as possible. We can only benefit from this wealth of information.

Why Quality Of Diet Means More In Adulthood

There has been a recent steady incline in the number of people that struggle with obesity and weight-related issues like diabetes and heart disease. This shift can be intrinsically linked to certain lifestyle practices and diet choices. A recent study which questioned the importance of diet quality found that a substantial and healthy diet should be measured by four different variables. It was found that maintaining a diet high in quality helps to prevent certain weight issues and troublesome illnesses such as fatty liver disease.

This study took a group of individuals over a wide spectrum and had them go through various body scans, complete various tests and pinpoint their level of health. It found that those with long-term access to healthier foods are at less of a risk of developing cardio metabolic conditions that can be very debilitating and potentially dangerous. The researchers explained that it is quality of diet, not quantity, that matters most. It was found that healthcare providers should continually advocate their patients incorporate a quality healthy diet that they follow for the long haul, for the majority of their lives.

Fat Distribution

The study also found that the distribution of fat that occurs in certain places on the body is indicative of specific  diseases and precursors for more health trouble in the future. Gone are the days when we would take into consideration the Body Mass Index, BMI, on a person as some specific indicator of health when it actually isn’t. One of the most critical features of developing a metabolic issue or chronic consequence is fat distribution. Fat that accumulates in the midsection and around the liver can contribute to the diseases mentioned above. These diseases are some of the leading causes of death in our society.

This also speaks to the prevalence and popularity of organic foods in recent years. While the product itself matters tremendously, how it was farmed and raised matters a lot too. There are so many different additives and chemicals that are used in our food supply system that we are not often cognizant of. This can be incredibly damaging to the body. It’s the difference between knowing that certain types of fish are great for you and provide a tremendous source of healthy fats, but then realizing that there is a staunch difference between fish that is farm raised and fish that is wild.

High-Quality Foods

Quality over quantity is usually a saying that is geared toward other issues but the prevalence of health changes on a national level cannot be ignored. While we live in the land of excess, we have so much access to foods that are simply no good for us. Fried, battered, sugared-up dishes can be found on almost every street corner. Snacking becomes an easy way to manage and stuff down feelings yet what many people don’t understand is that they are bargaining with their health when they partake in these practices so readily. Start to take your health seriously and understand what you need to do to change the course of what might happen next.

As our bodies and metabolism shifts, we need to be mindful of how to also shift our diets to reflect that change. Protect your heart, blood, organs and mind by eating a balanced and nutrient-rich diet of high quality.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Volume I: Breast Cancer Prevention

Stay lean
One of the most important ways to lower breast cancer risk is to avoid gaining weight. If you’re already overweight, trimming down before age 45 will lower the chance of developing breast cancer post menopause. Exercise can help to lower the levels of hormones which are related to breast cancer. Studies involving more than 100,000 women showed that those who exercised regularly were at less risk for breast cancer.

 

Moderation
Even though the correlation between diet and breast cancer prevention has been inconclusive, there has been a lot of hard evidence relating it to alcohol consumption. There has been much information about the positive benefits of moderate alcohol intake and heart disease- which kills far more women than breast cancer. However, if you are have other risk factors for breast cancer or a family history of it you may want to avoid it altogether.

 

Forget supplements
Soy foods are very common in eastern countries like China and Japan, and those countries also have some of the lowest breast cancer rates in the entire world. Soy foods like tofu have been shown to slightly lower risk for breast cancer, but soy supplements can have the exact opposite reaction. There are agents present in these supplements that can act like estrogen in the body, and cause cell changes that increase risk for cancer.

 

Fruits and Veggies
There hasn’t been much solid evidence linking diet to cancer risk, but there are facts that support the fact that maintaining a healthy weight (which can be achieved by eating a diet that is lower in calories) can. Studies from UC San Diego reveal that women who eat at least 5 servings of vegetables or fruits daily have cut their risk of breast cancer related death by half.