Eat your broccoli! That's the advice from UCLA researchers who have found that a chemical in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables may hold a key to restoring the body's immunity, which declines as we age.
Published in this week's online edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the study findings show that sulforaphane, a chemical in broccoli, switches on a set of antioxidant genes and enzymes in specific immune cells, which then combat the injurious effects of molecules known as free radicals that can damage cells and lead to disease.
"We found that treating older mice with sulforaphane increased the immune response to the level of younger mice," said Hyon-Jeen Kim, first author and research scientist at the Geffen School.
"This is a radical new way of thinking in how to increase the immune function of elderly people to possibly protect against viral infections and cancer," Nel said. "We may have uncovered a new mechanism by which to boost vaccine responses by using a nutrient chemical to impact oxidant stress pathways in the immune system."
March 5, 2008
Study finds that broccoli may help boost the aging immune system