Digestion-Boosting Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables

Digestion-Boosting Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables

Poor gut health can manifest in several different ways by affecting the functions of the digestive organs including the stomach, intestine, colon, rectum, pancreas, and liver. The symptoms of digestive disturbances such as abdominal pain, cramps, constipation, loose motions, nausea, vomiting, and indigestion can make it difficult for you to perform your routine activities. 

Moreover, digestive issues, if not detected and managed in a timely manner, could also progress and cause more severe damage to these organs leading to serious complications like inflammatory bowel disease and even cancer. 

Regular intake of cruciferous vegetables or the use of supplements containing the extracts of these vegetables could help to enhance the digestive functions, improve gut health, and restore the normal gut flora. 

It would also help to prevent or slow down the development and progress of inflammatory diseases and cancer in the digestive organs by addressing the root causes such as oxidative stress, weak immunity, and poor gut flora. 

Hence, patients who suffer from recurrent digestive issues are advised to use supplements prepared from cruciferous vegetables to improve gut health, boost digestion, and avoid more severe or chronic digestive disorders.

Nutrient-Dense Foods

Cruciferous foods are nutritionally dense and offer a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other bioactive compounds that can protect the gut against a range of disease-causing agents. 

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in vitamins C, E, and K, folate, and dietary fibers. [2]

Vitamin C in these vegetables would boost your immunity and protect the gut against infections thus preventing damage caused due to microorganisms and pro-inflammatory substances like cytokines and interleukins released by the immune cells.  

Dietary fibers in cruciferous vegetables might also play a role in improving bowel movements and preventing constipation. 

While it is common for people to experience a mild bloating sensation after eating cruciferous vegetables, the high fiber content of these foods can somewhat counter the bloating sensation by providing relief from constipation. 

Cruciferous vegetables like Brussel sprouts, kale, parsley, radish, cabbage, and kelp also provide a good source of phytonutrients. These phytonutrients could help lower inflammation in the gut thus providing relief from the symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases such as abdominal pain and discomfort, recurrent loose motions, alternate diarrhea and constipation, and indigestion. 

These phytonutrients also play a role in reducing the risk of cancer in the digestive organs including the colon and rectum. [3]


Prevent Cancer

Other than the anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, cruciferous vegetables also contain bioactive compounds called glucosinolates. These compounds are responsible not just for the unique flavors and aroma of these vegetables, but also for their anti-cancer benefits. [4]

Research studies have demonstrated that the compounds released during the breakdown of glucosinolates, such as indoles and isothiocyanates, could protect the cells and the mucosal lining of the stomach and intestine against DNA damage. These compounds are believed to work by deactivating the carcinogens. [5] [6]

These vegetables also have the ability to prevent the growth of cancer cells in the colon and liver. Clinical studies have revealed that the people whose regular diets comprise cruciferous vegetables have a lower risk of cancer suggesting the anti-cancer benefits of these superfoods.

Moreover, laboratory studies have revealed that the phytochemicals present in cruciferous vegetables called sulforaphane have the ability to stimulate certain enzymes in the body. These enzymes, in turn, could detoxify carcinogens before they can cause damage to the cells or the mucosal lining of the stomach and intestine, thus preventing cancerous changes. 

The other compounds in cruciferous vegetables such as crambene and indole 3-carbinol are also found to play a role in activating these detoxification enzymes. [7] [8]

This marks the need to include cruciferous vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, kale, parsley, radish, cabbage, and kelp in your regular diet or use the supplements containing the pure extracts derived from these vegetables to avoid the risk of cancer in the digestive organs and improve gut health. 


Reduce Oxidative Stress

Another mechanism of action by which cruciferous vegetables might help to protect the digestive organs and improve gut health is linked to their ability to prevent oxidative stress. 

Oxidative stress refers to the overload of the harmful molecules, known as oxygen-free radicals, generated in the body during various metabolic processes. Destruction and elimination of these free radicals are essential for protecting the healthy tissues against oxidative stress, inflammation, and cancerous and pre-cancerous changes in the gut. 

Including cruciferous vegetables in your regular diet may reduce oxidative stress in the stomach and intestine, improve gut flora, and restore the healthy digestive processes including the breakdown, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients. 


Improves Gut Flora

The gut flora is comprised of millions of bacteria, both good and bad. A healthy gut flora made of diverse strains of good bacteria can promote the process of digestion and even boost the body's immune functions. 

The researchers have discovered a gene residing in the gut called T-bet. This gene is found to trigger the activities of specialized cells that promote the growth of good bacteria and protect the gut against bad bacteria. 

Research studies have revealed that green cruciferous vegetables possess the ability to activate this gene allowing it to function more efficiently. This is another reason why it is important to include cruciferous vegetables in your regular diet. 

The T-bet gene may also ward off mild digestive conditions such as food allergies and even reduce the risk of mild issues that could otherwise progress and cause more serious conditions like colorectal cancer. [9]


Improve Blood Circulation

A growing body of research has linked eating cruciferous veggies to a lower risk of heart diseases and improved blood circulation to the vital organs. Regular intake of these vegetables is also linked to a reduced level of total and HDL cholesterol in the blood​. [10]

The results of these studies suggest that consuming cruciferous vegetables like Brussel sprouts, parsley, radish, kale, cabbage, and kelp in the form of a diet or supplements could restore the efficient blood circulation in the digestive organs. This could play a role in enhancing their functions by improving the flow of oxygen and other healing nutrients to the gut tissues. [11]


Improve Diabetes Control

Studies have shown that cruciferous veggies, like most other vegetables, contain a high amount of dietary fibers that could help to slow down digestion and the rate of absorption of carbohydrates from the foods we eat. [12]

This effect of dietary fibers in cruciferous vegetables could be effective in improving glycemic control in patients with diabetes, while also regulating the secretion of insulin in the pancreas. 


Glucosinolates in these vegetables have also been linked to an improvement in the carbohydrate metabolism and insulin sensitivity indicating the benefits of including the dishes prepared from these plant-based foods in your regular diet. [13]

Cruciferous vegetables such as radish, Brussel sprouts, kale, parsley, cabbage, and kelp would help decrease insulin resistance thereby protecting the tissues of the liver, colon, and other vital organs against inflammation caused due to the persistently elevated blood sugar levels. 

Other than these, it is also important to include a variety of other vegetables in your diet such as milk thistle, pumpkin seeds, tomato, saw palmetto, and beetroot to derive the benefits associated with them. 

Lycopene in tomatoes, and the natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in milk thistle, pumpkin seeds, saw palmetto, and beetroot would protect the gut lining and enhance the process of digestion. 

Vegetables and herbs like collard greens, asparagus, parsley, garlic, and turmeric would also improve gut health and provide relief from digestive complaints like vomiting, constipation, indigestion, high cholesterol, and cancer. 

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