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Detoxing with Cruciferous Veggies
Beth Ley Knotts, Ph.D. (Nutritionist)
Broccoli, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables are good for you, right?! Cruciferous vegetables are well-known foods that provide critical detoxification support and contain powerful cell-protecting, cancer fighting compounds that are a class by themselves.

Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, collard greens, horseradish, radish, rutabaga, turnips, and others. These vegetables contain several types of natural compounds made up of glucose and amino acids called glucosinolates. In the plant kingdom, glucosinolates help protect and defend plants from insects. In dietary consumption, glucosinolates help protect and defend your organs and tissues.

Glucosinolates cause the taste and smell of cruciferous vegetables. Glucosinolates contains several beneficial phytochemicals including indole-3-carbinol, or I3C. When I3C is metabolized and digested in an acidic pH like stomach acid, it breaks down into di-indole-methane or DIM.

Great Cell Protectors
Cruciferous vegetables and the prized antioxidant DIM protects cells differently than other fruits and vegetables. DIM is considered a great cell protector as it can induce apoptosis, autophagy, and block cell proliferation. Apoptosis is a form of programmed cell death that gets rid of worn-out and irregular cells. Autophagy is another form of cell clean-up and means to get rid of cellular trash.

DIM helps detoxify or manage xenobiotics and xenoestrogens, which are endocrine disrupting compounds that stress tissues and organs altering function, structure, and cell division. Studies show that with regular dietary consumption of cruciferous vegetables, DIM provides increased protection for the bladder, breasts, colon, upper digestive tract, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, prostate and other organs.

Xenobiotics Are Everywhere
The term xenobiotic refers to chemicals that are not normally found in animal or human life. Xenobiotics are everywhere. It is estimated that in a lifetime, each person is exposed to about 1-3 million chemicals. Infants are exposed to hundreds of chemicals during pregnancy. Exposure continues for life, often seeing 500 or more chemicals per day. We are surrounded by and live in a chemical soup.

Xenobiotics include drugs, pesticides, herbicides, plastics, industrial chemicals, environmental pollutants, fragrances and perfumes, food additives and flavorings, cosmetics, fire retardants, and more. Tech devices, disinfectants, synthetic carpets and floors, glues, paints, water-proofing materials, non-stick pans, plastic lids for your coffee cups, credit card slips, gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, asphalt, tar, cement hardeners, other petroleum derived products, fabric softeners and detergents, synthetic hair sprays and hair and nail care products, plastics in medical devices (C-PAP, IV bags, oxygen tubes, mouth guards, PPE’s, etc), feminine care products, disposable diapers and incontinence support, contrast dyes, your vehicles, wrinkle-free clothing and textile materials, vaccines and adjuvants all contribute to your xenobiotic load. Even cooking foods with high heat contributes to xenobiotic exposure.

The number of xenobiotics we are exposed to has grown exponentially in the last century. These compounds must be properly managed and removed by your liver, gut, and kidneys, otherwise toxins build-up in tissues and injure cells.

Xenobiotics can become even more toxic if your liver does not have the capacity to properly break them down in the initial process of detoxification or fully excrete them. Compromised nutritional status in liver detoxification magnifies the toxicity of these chemicals, which provokes cell injury and tissue damage. This may lead to headaches, body aches, fatigue, brain fog, feeling swollen, dark circles under the eyes, obesity, changes in metabolism, and skin rashes, etc.

DIM: Beneficial Inducer of Xenobiotic Metabolism
The liver is the primary organ that manages phase I and phase II detoxification processes. DIM is consideredaan “inducer of xenobiotic metabolism”. It helps stimulate and provide essential support in phase I and II detoxification pathways in the liver. DIMs aid in the transformation of xenobiotics into less toxic compounds. It increases the activity of detoxification enzymes, decreases invasiveness of xenobiotic toxins, and help protect cells from further stress.

DIM provides important antioxidant support and detoxification of various estrogens. Everyone is exposed to estrogens naturally produced by the body or as xenoestrogens, which are environmental chemicals that mimic estrogen, disrupt endocrine function, and promote estrogen dominance. Estrogens are produced primarily by the ovaries in premenopausal women. Smaller amounts of estrogen are produced by the adrenal glands, fat cells, breasts, bones, cartilage, and brain in men throughout life and women in menopause. Estrogens must be metabolized and detoxified to avoid unwanted build-up. DIM provides a beneficial effect on estrogen metabolism and detoxification.

Other Liver Support
DIM provides other means of support beyond detoxification. They provide immunomodulatory effects helping to balance cytokines, metabolism of alcohol, and help modulate enzymes that defend against germs within the liver.

A Class of Their Own
Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that consumption of cruciferous vegetables with DIM provides more protection against unwanted cell proliferation than total intake of other fruits and vegetables. Steam-cooked cruciferous vegetables provide the most desirable compounds. Baked, boiled, sautéed, and even raw cruciferous vegetables contain considerably less glucosinolates, which results in less I3C and DIM content.

DIM can be readily combined with antioxidants and other support nutrients. When combined, the detoxification effects are magnified with a greater ability to excrete toxins. Other nutrients like milk thistle, curcumin, dandelion extract, chlorella, N-acetyl-cysteine, glutathione, lipoic acid, fiber, probiotics, taurine, magnesium, selenium, copper, zinc, and B vitamins work synergistically with DIM to support the different phases of detoxification. Each nutrient is an integral part of the detoxification team.

If you are not a fan of these veggies and confess that your intake is less than stellar, consider the addition of DIM to your supplemental regime.