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Will eating certain vegetables prevent or improve fatty liver disease?  Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease goes hand in hand/is a consequence of being overweight or obese, and is characterized by an accumulation of fat in the liver. As the disease progresses, the liver shows damage from inflammation, and can ultimately even lead to cirrhosis (liver failure).

A recent multi-part study raises the possibility that perhaps eating certain foods can prevent or reverse this condition. Gut bacteria produce many compounds , one of which is indole, which has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Obese people have less indole in their blood, and lean people more. And people with fatty liver disease have less indole in their blood. In the study, giving mice indole actually improved their fatty liver disease.

How can one naturally increase levels of indole? By eating cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, bok choy, collards, and Brussels sprouts.

From Medical Xpress: Natural compound in vegetables helps fight fatty liver disease   ...continue reading "Eat Certain Vegetables To Improve or Prevent Fatty Liver disease?"

Reading this recent study, I was struck by how the results are evidence for eating sulforaphane containing foods, such as kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage for health and preventing cancer (due to anti-tumor activity). It is debatable whether it is support for taking supplements (here a sulforaphane supplement called BSE), even though the researchers were testing the supplement. Seven days of taking a supplement without "serious adverse events" (but they did have minor ones such as "mild abdominal discomfort") is too short a length of time for any support for a product. The real test would be seeing what health effects, both positive and negative, are after a year or two of taking the supplement.

Numerous other studies have found that eating foods are linked to good health, while taking supplements are linked to various health problems. Some scientists speculate that it's because the doses in supplements are too high - that they're much higher than what is found in foods. Also, supplements may be missing important nutrients that are found in foods. Bottom line: eat real foods for health and and cancer prevention, including several servings a week of cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress,bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts and similar green leaf vegetables). From Futurity:

Can A Broccoli Sprout Pill Fight Cancer?

A compound in broccoli sprouts may not only help prevent cancer but also treat itSulforaphane is found in vegetables such as kale, cauliflower, and cabbage—and in particularly high concentrations in young broccoli sprouts. Sulforaphane also is available as a dietary supplement called BSE.

Researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Institute of Biosciences and Technology, along with collaborators in Oregon, had previously found that sulforaphane could inhibit colon and prostate cancer cells in the laboratory. They’ve now shown that it seems to help humans as well. A paper published in the journal Clinical Epigenetics hints at the biological pathways involved and suggests BSE is generally safe.

“We have not seen any serious adverse events in healthy volunteers who consumed BSE pills for seven days,” says Praveen Rajendran, an assistant professor at Texas A&M University, although some people did experience mild abdominal discomfort.

In a separate clinical study, 28 human volunteers over the age of 50, who were undergoing routine colonoscopies, were surveyed for their cruciferous vegetable-eating habits. When their colon biopsies were examined, those who ate more servings were found to have higher levels of expression of the tumor suppressor gene p16 than those who ate few or no cruciferous vegetables.

This effect on p16 held even for people who didn’t eat these vegetables every single day, which may seem strange, as a single serving of sulforaphane is generally cleared from the body in less than 24 hours. “This hints at the possibility that epigenetic mechanisms are initially triggered by sulforaphane and its metabolites, and downstream mechanisms could be sustained, at least in the short-term, even after compounds are eliminated from the body.” In other words, eating vegetables containing sulforaphane may change your genes and help your body fight tumor growth.

However, it’s not all good news. In animal models, sulforaphane was shown to generally inhibit the development of colon cancer, but it’s a bit of a two-edged sword. Sulforaphane induces a protein called Nrf2, which has beneficial antioxidant and detoxifying effects—and is obviously good for fighting cancer. Later in the development of cancer, though, Nrf2 can also have a role in tumor growth and can even enhance the buildup of plaque in the arteries.

This research was done in a laboratory using cells, but the results support some other research finding that eating cruciferous vegetables frequently may help prevent cancer. They found that compound levels that were anti-cancer (killed off cancer cells) in this study could be achieved through diet alone. Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables of the family Brassicaceae (also called Cruciferae) such as cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, and similar green leaf vegetables. From Science Daily:

Plant-derived compound targets cancer stem cells

A compound and an enzyme that occur naturally in cruciferous vegetables--cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts--may help prevent recurrence and spread of some cancers, according to researchers. When they treated human cervical cancer stem cells with phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) in a Petri dish, about 75 percent died within 24 hours using a 20-micromolar concentration of the compound.

The precursor compound and enzyme in cruciferous vegetables combine during the chewing process to produce PEITC within the body, Dey explained. Though PEITC is a good candidate to develop as a dietary supplement, studies have also shown that sufficient cancer-preventing levels of PEITC can be achieved through diet alone.

When cancer is treated with chemotherapy or radiation, the tumor disappears but the cancer stem cells live on. "These cells are frequently resistant to conventional therapies," Dey said. Though cancer stem cells make up less than 5 percent of a tumor, they can regenerate the original tumor and migrate through the blood vessels spreading cancer to secondary locations."These tiny cells are very difficult to detect in a tumor," Dey pointed, adding that for a long time scientists did not even know they existed. 

Based on information from scientific literature, the concentrations of PEITC that Dey and her team typically use in their research -- 5 to 15 micromolars -- may be achieved through diets rich in certain types of cruciferous vegetables, particularly land cress and watercress.