Cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, parsnips, kale, and bean sprouts. Dr. Nieske Zabriskie cited scientific evidence to explain why increased intake of cruciferous vegetables has been shown to decrease overall cancer risk. One of the constituents found in these vegetables, indole-3-carbinol (I3C), has been widely studied as a potential chemo-preventative and chemotherapeutic agent, indole-
3-carbinol (I3C) has the following beneficial effects for our health, according to Dr. Niewske Zabriski:
- It increases estrogen metabolism via the beneficial 2-hydroxylation pathway in humans from 29 percent to over 45 percent. Increasing the 2-hydroxylation pathway decreases the activity of the other, more harmful pathways.
- The good estrogen, metabolites, 2-hydroxylation end products, decreases cell proliferation and increases programmed cell death, which is important in the prevention of cancer.
- I3C also increases the expression of the well-known breast cancer suppression gene BRCA1. Additionally, I3C inhibits the activation of estrogen receptors by estradiol, which prevents estrogen-enhanced cancers.
- I3C also protects against cervical cancer. Estrogen promotes the development of cervical cancer in cells infected with high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV). I3C and 2-hydroxyestrone inhibiting the estrogen-increased expression of the HPV cancer-promoting genes.
- Evidence also demonstrates that I3C is a potent scavenger of free-radicals, highly reactive chemicals that cause damage in the body and lead to aging, degenerative diseases, and cancer.
- I3C is acid-catalyzed in the stomach into diindolylmethane (DIM). DIM is believed to be the active beneficial constituent in I3C and cruciferous vegetables. Animal models show that supplementation with I3C prior to exposure of a known carcinogen decreased the development of breast tumors by 70-90 percent. Studies on human breast cancer cell lines show that DIM inhibits the growth of both estrogen-dependent and estrogen-independent cancer cells by approximately 60 percent. The same study also showed that DIM binds to the estrogen receptors in these cells, inhibiting the binding of estradiol.
- Other evidence shows that I3C decreases both the growth of blood supply to cancer cells and the spread of the cancerous cells locally and that it protects the liver from carcinogens.
- DIM also exhibits anti-androgenic activity. Research shows that DIM inhibits dihydrotestosterone(DHT) from binding to androgen receptors in androgen-dependent human prostate cancer cells, decreasing the induction of DNA synthesis. DIM also decreased levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA).
If cruciferous vegetables have so many protective effects, then why are they so unpopular? First of all, these vegetables require enzymes to digest, so if you’ve never eaten them, your body might not be able to digest them, due to the complexity of the compounds involved. You will have bloating, gas and indigestion. So when you finally do decide to eat these vegetables, you might start with a small steamed serving. You have to find the right amount in order to avoid indigestion. Also, acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help you to digest them more efficiently by bringing more blood flow to the stomach area.
Secondly, these vegetables have no spontaneous stimulating effect on your brain and cannot induce dopamine, endorphines or serotonin instantly as sweets and alcohol do. It takes time for your body to produce the beneficial effect. When you change eating habits like this, the stress can cause other problems. Therefore acupuncture can help your body to cope in order to develop a new healthier habit by facilitating its ability to produce more dopamine, serotonin, and GABA.
Thirdly, If you are taking anti-acid medication, you might have more difficulty digesting. You could use acupuncture and herbs to reduce any acid reflux instead of taking the anti-acid to stop it because acid is very critical to digesting fibers, vitamins, and minerals. Acupuncture can improve your digestion and strengthen the esophagus and stomach muscle tone and prevent acid from coming up in your throat. Acupuncture can also facilitate regular stomach and intestine movement to reduce stomach pressure.