noun_Search_345985 Created with Sketch.
noun_Search_345985 Created with Sketch.

The latest from The Paleo Diet®, just for you.

Hot topics, new recipes, and science

Fighting Cancer, Autism, and Neurodegenerative Diseases One Molecule at a Time

By Casey Thaler, B.A., NASM-CPT, FNS
January 21, 2015
https://thepaleodiet.imgix.net/images/kale-pot.jpg?auto=compress%2Cformat&fit=clip&q=95&w=900

We know eating our vegetables is good for us, but few are familiar with the copious benefits of the molecules that are contained within each vegetable.1,2,3 Take for example, sulforaphane, a molecule within the isothiocyanate group of organosulfur compounds.4,5,6 Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage all contain sulforaphane,7 among others including kale, cauliflower, radishes, broccoli raab, mustard, turnips, bok choy, collards, kohlrabi, arugula, and watercress.8 9 This molecule is currently being studied for its potential antioxidant properties, and how it relates to autism,10,11,12,13,14 neurodegenerative disorders, and cancers.15,16,17,18

Fighting Cancer, Autism, and Neurodegenerative Diseases One Molecule at a Time | The Paleo Diet

Boddupalli, Sekhar et al. “Induction of Phase 2 Antioxidant Enzymes by Broccoli Sulforaphane: Perspectives in Maintaining the Antioxidant Activity of Vitamins A, C, and E.” Frontiers in Genetics 3 (2012): 7. PMC. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.

Fighting Cancer, Autism, and Neurodegenerative Diseases One Molecule at a Time | The Paleo Diet

Boddupalli, Sekhar et al. “Induction of Phase 2 Antioxidant Enzymes by Broccoli Sulforaphane: Perspectives in Maintaining the Antioxidant Activity of Vitamins A, C, and E.” Frontiers in Genetics 3 (2012): 7.

In fact, one of the most interesting studies regarding sulforaphane was released just a few months ago.19 The authors of this study concluded that sulforaphane activates the Nrf2 pathway, which helps many inflammatory conditions, after looking specifically at sulforaphane’s effects on autism. With regard to other conditions, recent research into the effects of sulforaphane on cancer stem cells has drawn tremendous interest.20 Sulforaphane has also proven to be an effective chemoprotective agent in cell culture, in carcinogen-induced and genetic animal cancer models, as well as in xenograft models of cancer.21

Other studies have looked at sulforaphane’s potential effects on Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have found that sulforaphane significantly increased the numbers of 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine-positive neurons in the subventricular and subgranular zones.22 Though the molecule is not yet a definitive cure for any condition, the preventive potential of sulforaphane remains high, and should provide enough incentive to prioritize a healthy, Paleo diet rich in vegetables.

Sulforaphane has also shown a protective effect on the kidney mitochondrial complex,23 where damage is often induced by a high-fat diet. It is, however, worth mentioning that when researchers use the term ‘high-fat,’ they usually are referring to a high-fat, as well as a high-sugar diet. In addition to this kind of protection, a wide variety of acute and chronic neurodegenerative diseases, including ischemic/traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease, share common characteristics. These characteristics include: oxidative stress, misfolded proteins, excitotoxicity, inflammation, and neuronal loss. Sulforaphane has been shown to help combat nearly all of these characteristics.24 In essence, by eating kale and making other healthy food choices, you will not only avoid damage caused by a poor diet, but also simultaneously protect yourself against potential neurological conditions.


Fighting Cancer, Autism, and Neurodegenerative Diseases One Molecule at a Time | The Paleo Diet

Tarozzi, Andrea et al. “Sulforaphane as a Potential Protective Phytochemical Against Neurodegenerative Diseases.” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 2013 (2013): 415078. PMC. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.

Fighting Cancer, Autism, and Neurodegenerative Diseases One Molecule at a Time | The Paleo Diet

Boddupalli, Sekhar et al. “Induction of Phase 2 Antioxidant Enzymes by Broccoli Sulforaphane: Perspectives in Maintaining the Antioxidant Activity of Vitamins A, C, and E.” Frontiers in Genetics 3 (2012): 7. PMC. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.

So, it seems that when your mother told you to eat your vegetables, she may have been more right than either of you realized. The sheer idea that by simply consuming broccoli, you may be helping to protect your brain against neurodegenerative disorders, or potentially even against cancer, is both a tantalizing prospect, and one more reason to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Though one molecule may not protect you against everything, consuming a diet rich with nutrients is arguably the best thing you can do to protect your own health.25,26,27 A Paleo Diet, which is rich with vegetables, high quality sources of protein, and healthy fats, will keep your body and mind in the best shape possible. Eat up!

REFERENCES

[1] This H. Food for tomorrow? How the scientific discipline of molecular gastronomy could change the way we eat. EMBO Rep. 2006;7(11):1062-6.

[2] Rao MB, Tanksale AM, Ghatge MS, Deshpande VV. Molecular and biotechnological aspects of microbial proteases. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 1998;62(3):597-635.

[3] Pandey KB, Rizvi SI. Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009;2(5):270-8.

[4] Hwang ES, Jeffery EH. Induction of quinone reductase by sulforaphane and sulforaphane N-acetylcysteine conjugate in murine hepatoma cells. J Med Food. 2005;8(2):198-203.

[5] Wang LI, Giovannucci EL, Hunter D, Neuberg D, Su L, Christiani DC. Dietary intake of Cruciferous vegetables, Glutathione S-transferase (GST) polymorphisms and lung cancer risk in a Caucasian population. Cancer Causes Control. Dec 2004;15(10):977-85.

[6] Cornblatt BS, Ye L, Dinkova-Kostova AT, et al. Preclinical and clinical evaluation of sulforaphane for chemoprevention in the breast. Carcinogenesis. 2007 Jul;28(7):1485-90.

[7] Egner PA, Chen JG, Wang JB, et al. Bioavailability of Sulforaphane from two broccoli sprout beverages: results of a short-term, cross-over clinical trial in Qidong, China. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011;4(3):384-95.

[8] Wang L, Liu D, Ahmed T, Chung FL, Conaway C, Chiao JW. Targeting cell cycle machinery as a molecular mechanism of sulforaphane in prostate cancer prevention. Int J Oncol. 2004;24(1):187-92.

[9] Ho E, Clarke JD, Dashwood RH. Dietary sulforaphane, a histone deacetylase inhibitor for cancer prevention. J Nutr. 2009;139(12):2393-6.

[10] Fahey JW, Talalay P. Antioxidant functions of sulforaphane: a potent inducer of Phase II detoxication enzymes. Food Chem Toxicol. 1999;37(9-10):973-9.

[11] Boddupalli S, Mein JR, Lakkanna S, James DR. Induction of phase 2 antioxidant enzymes by broccoli sulforaphane: perspectives in maintaining the antioxidant activity of vitamins a, C, and e. Front Genet. 2012;3:7.

[12] Riedl MA, Saxon A, Diaz-sanchez D. Oral sulforaphane increases Phase II antioxidant enzymes in the human upper airway. Clin Immunol. 2009;130(3):244-51.

[13] Singh K, Connors SL, Macklin EA, et al. Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2014;111(43):15550-5.

[14] Niculescu MD, Lupu DS. Nutritional influence on epigenetics and effects on longevity. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011;14(1):35-40.

[15] Zhang R, Miao QW, Zhu CX, et al. Sulforaphane Ameliorates Neurobehavioral Deficits and Protects the Brain From Amyloid β Deposits and Peroxidation in Mice With Alzheimer-Like Lesions. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2014;:1533317514542645.

[16] Vauzour D, Buonfiglio M, Corona G, et al. Sulforaphane protects cortical neurons against 5-S-cysteinyl-dopamine-induced toxicity through the activation of ERK1/2, Nrf-2 and the upregulation of detoxification enzymes. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010;54(4):532-42.

[17] Xu T, Ren D, Sun X, Yang G. Dual roles of sulforaphane in cancer treatment. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2012;12(9):1132-42.

[18] Zhang C, Su ZY, Khor TO, Shu L, Kong AN. Sulforaphane enhances Nrf2 expression in prostate cancer TRAMP C1 cells through epigenetic regulation. Biochem Pharmacol. 2013;85(9):1398-404.

[19] Singh K, Connors SL, Macklin EA, et al. Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2014;111(43):15550-5.

[20] Li Y, Zhang T. Targeting cancer stem cells with sulforaphane, a dietary component from broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Future Oncol. 2013;9(8):1097-103.

[21] Clarke JD, Dashwood RH, Ho E. Multi-targeted prevention of cancer by sulforaphane. Cancer Lett. 2008;269(2):291-304.

[22] Zhang R, Zhang J, Fang L, et al. Neuroprotective effects of sulforaphane on cholinergic neurons in mice with Alzheimer's disease-like lesions. Int J Mol Sci. 2014;15(8):14396-410.

[23] Xue H, Li Y, Liang B, Wang S. [Protective effects of sulforaphane on the oxidative damage of kidney mitochondria complex in obese rats induced by high-fat diet]. Zhonghua Yu Fang Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2014;48(11):1007-11.

[24] Tarozzi A, Angeloni C, Malaguti M, Morroni F, Hrelia S, Hrelia P. Sulforaphane as a potential protective phytochemical against neurodegenerative diseases. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2013;2013:415078.

[25] Pandey KB, Rizvi SI. Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009;2(5):270-8.

[26] Habauzit V, Morand C. Evidence for a protective effect of polyphenols-containing foods on cardiovascular health: an update for clinicians. Ther Adv Chronic Dis. 2012;3(2):87-106.

[27] Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(7):738-50.

Even More Articles For You

Healthy Skin, Healthy Body
The Paleo Diet® is your #1 source of paleo diet news & paleo diet recipes. Browse our website for paleo lunch recipes, cooking tips & meal plans!
By Nell Stephenson
Type 2 Diabetes and Endotoxemia
Learn more about Paleo babies & toddlers. Visit The Paleo Diet® for the latest Paleo recipes, Paleo Diet tips & tricks, Paleo news articles & more!
By The Paleo Diet Team
Industrial Meat and Soaking Nuts
Does the industrial feeding of animals change the fat composition and make it unhealthy for us? That question stems from grass-fed advocates that claim meat
By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
Paleo Leadership
 
Trevor Connor
Trevor Connor

Dr. Loren Cordain’s final graduate student, Trevor Connor, M.S., brings more than a decade of nutrition and physiology expertise to spearhead the new Paleo Diet team.

Mark J Smith
Dr. Mark Smith

One of the original members of the Paleo movement, Mark J. Smith, Ph.D., has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the benefits of Paleo nutrition.

Nell Stephenson
Nell Stephenson

Ironman athlete, mom, author, and nutrition blogger Nell Stephenson has been an influential member of the Paleo movement for over a decade.

Loren Cordain
Dr. Loren Cordain

As a professor at Colorado State University, Dr. Loren Cordain developed The Paleo Diet® through decades of research and collaboration with fellow scientists around the world.