Cruciferous vegetables have long been cherished for their health benefits. Broccoli, cabbage, collards, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale and bok choy, just to name a few, contain several plant compounds that are important for optimal health.
Cruciferous vegetables have long been cherished for their health benefits. Broccoli, cabbage, collards, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale and bok choy, just to name a few, contain several plant compounds that are important for optimal health, including powerful chemoprotective compounds.
One of the most well-known of these is sulforaphane, an organic sulfur. Studies have shown sulforaphane supports normal cell function and division while causing apoptosis (programmed cell death) in the colon, liver, prostate, breastand tobacco-induced lung cancer.
“A phytochemical derived from cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, breaks down the biofilm that lets bacteria resist antibiotics, according to a study from Ben-Gurion University in Israel …
“The paper, co-authored by researchers from Near East University and Girne American University in Cyprus, was published in the journal Pharmaceutics.
“The scientists found that phytochemical 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM) successfully broke down the biofilms protecting pathogens including Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa 65% and 70% of the time, respectively …
“When the team introduced DIM into an infected wound, it sped up the healing process significantly. ‘Our findings show promise for other avenues of research in addition to known classes of antibiotics,’ said [professor Ariel] Kushmaro.”
Antibiotic resistance is a serious problem
This could potentially be the breakthrough we’ve been searching for. Antimicrobial resistance has been on the rise for decades, thus making infections that were previously easy to treat a serious threat again.
Antibiotic overuse occurs not just in human medicine, but also in food production. In fact, agricultural uses account for about 80% of all antibiotic use in the U.S., so it’s a major source of human antibiotic consumption.
Animals are often fed antibiotics at low doses for disease prevention and growth promotion, and those antibiotics are transferred to you via meat and other animal products, and even via the manure used as crop fertilizer.
Many pathogens have also developed resistance to more than one drug, so-called pan-resistance, which makes treating them even more problematic. And, while pan-resistant superbugs are increasing, the development of new antibiotics to tackle them has come to a near halt.
The four pathogenic bacteria investigated in the study cited above — Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii, Serratia marcescens and Providencia stuartii — are all gram-negative bacteria, and in the initial investigation, DIM reduced biofilm formation in all four by as much as 80%.
Of these, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii are both resistant to multiple drugs, so in follow-up tests they focused on these two specifically. As previously noted, DIM was able to inhibit biofilm formation in these bacteria by 65% to 70%.
When DIM was combined with the antibiotic tobramycin, biofilm growth of P. aeruginosa was diminished by 98%.
Non-healing wounds are often infected with pan-resistant bacteria, and it’s the biofilm that prevents the tissues from healing back together.
To test whether DIM could work topically in these scenarios, the researchers infected puncture wounds on pigs with P. aeruginosa, and then applied a cream containing either DIM alone, the antibiotic gentamycin alone, or DIM plus gentamycin combined.
Wounds treated with DIM for 10 days healed significantly better than untreated wounds, thanks to a significant reduction in biofilm formation, and the combination of DIM plus antibiotic worked even better. Wounds treated with gentamycin alone saw no improvement.
How to optimize the benefits of broccoli
To get the most out of your broccoli, lightly steam it for three to four minutes until it’s tough-tender. Do not steam longer than five minutes. This will allow you to get the most bioavailable sulforaphane out of it.
If you opt for boiling, blanch the broccoli in boiling water for no more than 20 to 30 seconds, then immerse it in cold water to stop the cooking process.
If you want to augment the sulforaphane content even further, pair broccoli and other cruciferous veggies with a myrosinase-containing food such as mustard seed, daikon radishes, wasabi, arugula or coleslaw. Of these, mustard seed is the most potent.
If you’re not a fan of mature cruciferous vegetables, then consider broccoli sprouts instead. They actually pack a greater punch in terms of nutrition, so you don’t have to eat as much.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, a mere 5 grams (0.17 ounces) of broccoli sprouts contain concentrations of the compound glucoraphanin equal to that found in 150 grams (5.2 ounces) of mature broccoli.
Sprouts can also contain up to 100 times more enzymes than raw fruits and vegetables, allowing your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats from the foods you eat.
You can easily and inexpensively grow broccoli sprouts at home, indoors, and you don’t have to cook them. They are eaten raw, usually as an addition to salad or juice.