“Leaky gut” sounds bad. And it is.
It’s an inflammatory condition that weakens the lining of your stomach. This means undigested food particles leak from your intestines into your bloodstream.1
That causes an immune response. The symptoms can include irritable bowel, migraines, eczema, chronic fatigue, food allergies, arthritis, and more.
Now, a new study finds that one vegetable can repair a leaky gut and bring dramatic relief.
Researchers at Penn State University split mice into two groups. One was fed a normal diet. The other ate a normal diet, plus broccoli.
Then the researchers introduced a toxin to both groups that is known to cause leaky gut in both humans and mice. Afterward, the researchers checked the animals for intestinal inflammation. It is the primary marker for leaky gut.
The mice whose diet was supplemented by broccoli showed up to 73% less gut inflammation than mice who did not consume the vegetable.2
The disease process of leaky gut is the same in mice as it is in people. That’s why although the study looked at mice, the authors believe the results apply to humans, too. “Our results suggest that broccoli may be of preventative benefit in cases of heightened intestinal inflammation,” they concluded.3
The research was published in the Journal of Functional Foods.
Broccoli’s Secret Weapon Against Digestive Problems
The key to broccoli’s control of inflammation is a compound called indolocarbazole (ICZ). It is released when broccoli gets to the gut.4
There it binds to gut wall receptors. This limits inflammation and strengthens the gut lining, making it less permeable.
Dr. Gary Perdew is a professor in agricultural sciences at Penn State University. He was the study’s lead author.
The fact that simply adding one vegetable to your diet can reduce leaky gut is big news for people suffering from the condition, he said.
“Keeping your gut healthy and making sure you have good barrier functions so you’re not getting this leaky effect would be really big,” Dr. Perdew said.
The animals in the study ate the human equivalent of 3 ½ cups of broccoli a day. That’s obviously a lot of broccoli. But there is another vegetable that contains even more ICZ.5
Its Brussel sprouts.
“Brussel sprouts have three times as much, which would mean a cup of Brussel sprouts could get us to the same level,” said Dr. Perdew.6
If you have leaky gut, eat more broccoli and/or Brussels sprouts. We recommend organic versions. Both vegetables are linked to cancer risk reduction and are high in fiber, which can help you lose weight by making you feel full.
And they could do wonders for your digestive health.7