Broccoli is unsexy, I know that. If I said cruciferous vegetables to most people, they wouldn’t know what I was referring to. However, if you’re wanting to help your liver, or a female suffering hormonal problems, then broccoli is truly your best friend.
Estrogen is a family of sex hormones that help determine a lot of your feminine characteristics, your hips and breasts for one! Yet you can get too much of a good thing. There are over 700 known toxins in our environment, from agriculture and industry that mimic estrogen and lead to an excess in the body. There are 3 types of estrogen, your normal hormone estrogen, xeno-estrogens (toxic byproducts of industry that mimic estrogen) and phytoestrogens, plant based estrogen that has the weakest effect overall. Eat plants daily!
Estrogen dominance is a common hormone disorder now. Symptoms include bloating, puffiness, heavy bleeding, fibroids, weight gain (especially in the hips and buttock area), abnormal pap smears, painful periods, heavy periods, endometriosis, PMS and its symptoms like weepiness and irritability. Many peri-menopausal women go through an estrogen dominance phase.
This is where Broccoli is King. It belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables (cauliflower, kale, cabbage). This family of vegetables actually block estrogen. They also help ensure that cells know when to die so that senescent cells stop circulating where they can wreak havoc and accelerate the ageing process.
Cruciferous vegetables contain a compound sulforaphane, which helps the liver in detoxification. They contain fiber, which helps your liver overall and in excretion of excess estrogens; and Vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant to counteract free radicals (which can cause cancer and accelerate aging).
When you eat more cruciferous vegetables you are allowing less room for the environmental estrogen and pollutants. You are decreasing your changes of estrogen dominance disorders and related cancers. All of this of course goes hand in hand with lifestyle – exercise, fresh air, and less alcohol as this just places a greater burden on the liver, who is busy trying to handle all this excess estrogen.
Food first is my motto. The icing on the cake is a supplement called di-indole methane (DIM), an extraction of cruciferous vegetables which is the approximate equivalent of 25 pounds of broccoli. It helps foster good estrogen over bad. It is a supplement best taken under the advice of a health practitioner.
Think of cruciferous vegetables as your new best friend if you have any hormonal disorder and you should aim to include this super food family daily on your plate. Cauliflower these days can be added to smoothies to provide creaminess, or grated as a rice and stir-fried. Broccoli when combined cooked with tomatoes is a powerful combination of cancer fighting compounds. Kale is rich in Folate, needed to make and repair our DNA. It is also key in cell division.
Broccoli really is King.
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Deborah McTaggart is practices Nutrition & Functional Medicine at Barnes Chiropractic Clinic, 43 Barnes High Street, South West London.