Immune Boosting Nutrient Nobody is Talking About
Right now we are still in the midst of the covid situation, and cases are still through the roof. Whether it is down to dodgy tests or not, I don’t really care, I just want to provide you with the best and most actionable information I can to help protect and support you and your family.
It goes beyond covid. Your immune system is responsible for so much more in your body than just preventing this virus. But we also want to prevent it, and if you or someone you know does get a positive result, we want to minimize its impact.
Thankfully the scientific/medical research community is doubling down on preventative substances (mostly foods), and nutrients that can reverse and help treat it…and it means we’re learning a TON right now about nature and our immune system.
And in this guide I am going to give you the single most important and emerging – we haven’t known a lot about it but the research is coming thick and fast as we learn more and more about how wonderfully powerful it is.
And that nutrient is…
Sulforaphane (SFR) is ‘coming of age’ in the scientific community. It has been known forever and a day, but only recently have we begun to understand the mechanisms by which it integrates with the various pathways in the body that make it so powerful.
Previously, a lot of the research has focused on its chemoprotective properties, but recent studies have revealed just how incredibly effective it is as an anti-viral, anti-microbial, detoxification tool (in combination with inducing autophagy), anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, skin protective, healing tool.
It is incredible (and easy to get into your diet, read on).
Sulforaphane and COVID-19
Sulforaphane is specifically one of the most powerful tools we have to protect against Covid-19, and it works in a variety of ways to protect us:
- Interraction with Glutathione: According to a meta-analysis of existing studies conducted in April 2020, glutathione deficiency is associated with COVID-19 severity. The paper titled “Endogenous deficiency of glutathione as the most likely cause of serious manifestations and death in patients with the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19)” is quite telling.
We know that sulforaphane plays a significant role in the production, storage and availability of glutathione in the body. It has been studies in various mechanisms, and positive results have been shown for this SFR and glutathione mechanism for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, various cancers, heart disease and more (2).
Ultimately, as I talk about constantly, inflammation and oxidative stress, alongside chronic diet-induced acidity, is the root cause of practically all sickness and disease, and both SFR and glutathione (separately and together) reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
- Reducing Oxidative Stress: we also know that oxidative stress contributes to both the conditions that make a covid-19 infection more likely and severe (cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disease, etc.) and we know that oxidative stress then makes the COVID-19 infection far more likely to be severe (3).
COVID-19 is associated with reactive oxygen species (oxidative stress) and its comorbidities mostly joined with oxidative stress including hypertension, cardiovascular, thrombosis, obesity, and diabetes besides of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.
The data tells us that COVID-19s transportation into cells is largely via angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor, and oxidative stress expedites this process.
When we increase antioxidant capacity in the body, which sulforaphane does like no other, this has been shown to block the pathway. The ability of SARS-CoV-2 activity to replicate seems to be reduced in high antioxidant environments. When we’re eating an antioxidant-rich diet including sulforaphane – we block the ability for COVID-19 to replicate in our body.
- Transmembrane protease, serine 2 – TMPRSS2: Both the SARS coronavirus of 2003 and the novel coronavirus of 2020 are activated by TMPRSS2 and can thus be blocked by TMPRSS2 inhibitors. Sulforaphane is proven to block TMPRSS2. It literally, directly, stops COVID-19 from being activated in the body. (4, 5)
- Inflammation and the NRF2 Pathway: We know that the inflammatory response of the host (i.e. the person infected) plays a huge, huge role in the outcome of the infection. If you have chronic inflammation, you are putting yourself at a much higher risk. A standard American diet is hugely inflammatory by the way. We know that activation of NRF2* promotes resolution of inflammation and, in parallel, restores proper antioxidant homeostasis (double bonus), and sulforaphane has been proven over and over to activate the NRF2 pathway(6).
Sulforaphane has been labeled “the most potent naturally occurring NRF2 activator, with well-documented antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects”. It’s kind of a must for preventing and treating COVID.
*full name of the NRF2 pathway: transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2 p45-related factor 2…didn’t want to get you bogged down in reading that before the punchline!
So it’s clear, and I’m just scratching the surface of the research supporting this, that sulforaphane is anti-inflammatory, prevents oxidative stress, blocks SARS-CoV-2 from activating, prevents it from replicating and spreading, AND it’s got a whole heap of other benefits too.
OK, so I have convinced you as to how useful it is, well…in 2020 is it absolutely necessary. So, this begs the questions:
- Where do you find it?
- And how do you get it into your daily life?
Gimme, Gimme, Gimme! Where and How Do I Get Sulphoraphane?
SFR is a sulfur-rich phytonutrient, found mainly in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and bok choi.
In these foods, it’s in the inactive form glucoraphanin that belongs to the glucosinolate family of plant compounds and is activated when it is ‘damaged’ i.e. chopped, chewed, etc. as the plant releases the enzyme myrosinase.
Raw veggies have more sulforaphane than cooked, so it’s best to steam or flash stir-fry (in coconut oil, of course) rather than boil, or bake (and certainly not microwave). For instance, raw broccoli has ten times the volume of SFR than cooked (7).
Foods High In Sulforaphane:
Broccoli (top pick)
Bok Choi/Pak Choi
…and then there is BROCCOLI SPROUTS!
Broccoli sprouts contain up to 100x more sulforaphane than fully grown broccoli (8). Yep, you read that right. Getting broccoli sprouts each day can genuinely change your health. This alone.
They are not the easiest thing to buy at a grocery store, but they’re so easy to grow.
This video explains everything:
But of course, you should be looking to include the more ‘regular’ foods too, and I have some recipes for that!
Sulforaphane-Rich Recipes from Ross
And of course, it is possible to get a broccoli sprout supplement, which is your easiest way to do it daily.
You can get this in a powder form, capsule, or juice.
Personally, the capsule is the easiest – as broccoli sprout juice (powdered or the juice), does not taste great. It’s, well, sulfur-y.
There are heaps on the market, but my favourite currently is this one:
It is high quality and delivers 50mg of sulforaphane per capsule (about the same as an ounce of broccoli sprouts).
It is clear that SARS-CoV-2 is here, it’s real, and it is infectious. We don’t need to debate how infectious or how deadly it is, or any of the politics. We can just focus on protecting ourselves and our loved ones.
Previous guides have laid out to you the hard evidence surrounding vitamin D, C, zinc and selenium (and one coming on NAC) – and today we can see the clear role sulforaphane can play in reducing oxidative stress, inflammation and preventing the pathways by which coronaviruses can get into the body and spread.
I recommend you look into a supplement, growing broccoli sprouts and eating more cruciferous vegetables.
We know that a strong immune system, and a body that is low in inflammation and oxidative stress gives a holistic defense against viruses such as SARS-CoV that is *almost* unbreakable. Nothing is ever promised or a given, of course, but the studies we have seen published this year regarding SARS-CoV-2 show that adequate levels of nutrients such as vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, selenium, NAC, can independently cut risk by ~90% of being infected and if infected, cut the risk of the symptoms being severe or requiring hospitalization (see more here).
And sulforaphane HAS to be part of that mix, through your daily diet and supplement regime.
Simple stuff, you can do it, and not only will you be protected, but you’ll feel AMAZING too!
Sources & References
1.Polonikov V; Endogenous deficiency of glutathione as the most likely cause of serious manifestations and death in patients with the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19): a hypothesis based on literature data and own observations; April 2020 (link)
2. Tarozzi A; Sulforaphane as an inducer of glutathione prevents oxidative stress-induced cell death in a dopaminergic-like neuroblastoma cell line; J Neurochem. 2009 Dec;111(5); (link)
3. Baqi H, Farag H, el Bilbeisi A, El Afifi, A. Oxidative Stress and Its Association with COVID-19: A Narrative Review. The journal of applied research. 10.24017/covid.11. (link)
4. Gibbs A, Schwartzman J, Deng V, Alumkal J. Sulforaphane destabilizes the androgen receptor in prostate cancer cells by inactivating histone deacetylase 6; Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Sep 29;106(39) (link)
5. Meyer M, Jaspers I. Respiratory protease/antiprotease balance determines susceptibility to viral infection and can be modified by nutritional antioxidants; Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2015 Jun 15; 308(12) (link)
6. Cuadrado A. Can Activation of NRF2 Be a Strategy against COVID-19? Trends in Pharmacological Sciences; Volume 41, Issue 9, September 2020, Pages 598-610 (link)
7. Wang GC, Farnham M, Jeffery EH. Impact of thermal processing on sulforaphane yield from broccoli ( Brassica oleracea L. ssp. italica); J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Jul 11;60(27):6743-8. doi: 10.1021/jf2050284. Epub 2012 May 15. (link)
8. Liang H et al. Intensifying sulforaphane formation in broccoli sprouts by using other cruciferous sprouts additions; Food Sci Biotechnol. 2018 Aug; 27(4): 957–962; (link)