Colitis and other intestinal inflammations are counteracted by eating… broccoli and cabbage! In fact, these vegetables are shown to improve intestinal function and strengthen the barrier that blocks pathogens while letting pass the nutrients beneficial to the body. What has been stated emerges from a very recent scientific research that appeared in the Laboratory Investigation journal thanks to the work of a group of American scientists from Penn State University (Zhou et al, Laboratory Investigation, 2023).
Broccoli and cabbage are a real superfood
Broccoli, but also cabbage, Brussels sprouts, savoy cabbage and kale, are considered a real superfood. In fact, these foods provide fiber, mineral salts, such as magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, selenium and manganese, vitamins, such as vitamin C and K, folate, but, above all, antioxidant substances that fight tumors and type 2 diabetes. The study we are talking about today wanted to analyze the action of broccoli in the intestine.
Broccoli and cabbage protect the intestine, the study
The study was carried out in the laboratory on a population of mice but, as indicated by the authors of the study themselves, it is reasonable to assume that the observed results can also be applied to humans. The mice were divided into two groups. The first group received, together with the normal diet, also broccoli, in an amount corresponding to 3 portions per day for us humans. Such a large amount was meant solely for the purpose of the experiment, to quickly observe the results. The second group followed the broccoli-free diet and was used as a comparison. After two weeks the mice underwent medical examinations and tests. What emerged is that broccoli was able to protect the intestinal barrier and improve intestinal function. In fact, the group that didn't take broccoli had a dysfunction of the intestinal barrier, no longer able to effectively block harmful substances and let nutrients through. Not only that, intestinal transit was also altered, the protective mucus that lines the intestinal walls and also the cells responsible for secreting digestive enzymes had decreased. All of these conditions are known to be associated with intestinal tract disease and inflammation, such as colitis. Scientists have also managed to understand the mechanism underlying the protective action of broccoli and other vegetables of the Brassicaceae or Cruciferae family. In particular, these vegetables contain substances called aryl hydrocarbon receptor binders. These substances bind to the aryl hydrocarbon receptors, which in this way activate various processes, including those that influence the action of intestinal cells. The mice that had not eaten broccoli did not have the activation of these pathways while the intestine of the mice that had eaten broccoli was stronger and more resilient.
From today we have one more good reason to eat broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts! We know, in fact, that these precious vegetables bring benefits to our health in different ways. Not only do they help reduce the risk of cellular degeneration, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but they also take care of our intestine, reinforcing its protective barrier and digestive capacity, helping to counteract bloating, pain and abdominal cramps.
In addition to this, it is known that the health of the entire body depends on the health of the intestine, and therefore an intestine that works efficiently helps to counteract the feeling of fatigue, but also anxiety and depression.