While you may have heard that cruciferous vegetables have cancer fighting properties you may not know that cruciferous vegetables may be key in keeping your gut healthy too.
According to an article in the journal Cell these vegetables have compounds that turn on a receptor which activates specialized immune cells in the GI tract. When these specialized immune cells are not present the gut accumulated more bacteria and lymphocytes which are associated with colitis (1).
These gut friendly vegetables are all members of the cabbage family including: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, rutabaga, bok choy, kale, radishes, brussel sprouts and collard greens. To get the most benefit they should be juiced, steamed or eating raw. Overcooking can destroy some of the important phytochemicals.
Sometimes cruciferous vegetables can be associated with increased gas and often we recommend patients not overdo them while in an active flare. This new research may change those recommendations. If these vegetables do not bother you then by all means, do not remove them from your diet. If they do bother you it can help to reintroduce them to your diet slowly. Gradually increase the amounts to limit side effects.
If the vegetables still cause unpleasant symptoms talk with your doctor or nutritionist. There may be ways to add them and limit your side effects. Sometimes enzymes like Beano taken before eating can help and simethicone can relieve symptoms if it is already too late.
If you miss out on these vegetables you may just be missing out on nature’s best defense against a troubled gut.
Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.