GLOSSARY

 

advanced glycation endproducts (A.G.E.S)

A.G.E.s are harmful oxidative compounds that play a significant role in many chronic diseases. A.G.E.s are formed in our bodies when sugar combines with fat, protein and even genetic material in a process known as glycation. In addition to A.G.E.s that are formed endogenously in the body, A.G.E.s are also consumed in the foods we eat. Methods of cooking and preparing foods alters their A.G.E. content. More highly processed foods, as well as foods that are cooked at higher temperatures through grilling, broiling, roasting and frying will dramatically increase levels of A.G.E. formation. 

 

Our bodies are only capable of eliminating a fraction of A.G.E.s. Over time they accumulate in our tissues, causing increased oxidative stress and inflammation. Research suggests that high A.G.E. levels have been linked to the development of many chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, kidney failure, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and premature aging. On the other hand, low A.G.E. levels have been linked to accelerated wound healing, decreased inflammation and oxidative stress, improved insulin sensitivity, and even a longer lifespan. It is clear that A.G.E.s play a substantial role in the development of chronic diseases, and therefore monitoring A.G.E. levels should be considered as an important marker of overall health.

 

Antioxidant

A compound that neutralizes free radicals in the body. Antioxidants prevent or reduce damage to cells and cellular components such as DNA. In so doing, antioxidants may prevent disease and prolong life. Many vitamins and plant-based compounds are antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, selenium, and carotenoid compounds, such as beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

 

Autism

A developmental disorder (a.k.a. Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD), characterized by impaired social interaction, behavioral problems, and poor communication. Autism typically manifests in early childhood and is over four times more common among boys than girls. Broccoli sprout extracts have been shown to reduce the characteristic behaviors associated with autism in clinical trials.

Chemoprevention

Implementation of strategies that reduce the risk of, or delay the development of, chronic disease. Chemopreventive interventions include nutritional and lifestyle measures, such as adherence to plant-based diets, exercising, and not smoking.

Chemoprotection

Chemical protection against chronic disease. Chemoprotective agents include a wide variety of plant-based dietary compounds, including antioxidants, isothiocyanates, coumarins, and others.

Frugal medicine

A broad range of strategies to increase access to and quality of care in underserved and impoverished areas of the world. Frugal medicine strategies should be effective, safe, tolerable, practical, and inexpensive. Food-based interventions are integral components of frugal medicine.

Glucoraphanin

The glucosinolate present in broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Glucoraphanin reacts with myrosinase to produce sulforaphane, a powerful indirect antioxidant. Contrary to what has been in the popular press, although all cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates, it is primarily broccoli and the plant known as hoary cress or whitetop (Cardaria draba) that contain substantial quantities of glucoraphanin and its biologically active product, sulforaphane.

Glucosinolate

A type of compound found in the leaves, stems, and flowers of moringa and cruciferous plants such as broccoli, broccoli sprouts, kale, and others. Glucosinolates react with myrosinase, a type of enzyme, to produce isothiocyanates. Scientists have identified at least 120 distinct glucosinolates.

 

Glutamate

The ionic form of the most abundant amino acid in the human body (glutamic acid). Glutamate plays roles in many aspects of physiology and is best known for its role as a neurotransmitter in the brain and peripheral nervous system. Abnormal levels of glutamate have been linked to depression and schizophrenia. The amino acid is a component of the antioxidant glutathione, and (little known fact) its anion is what gives MSG (monosodium glutamate) and various foods their “umami” flavor.

Glutathione

A potent antioxidant compound produced by the body’s cells. Glutathione helps prevent cellular damage caused by the production of reactive oxygen species and plays a role in the regeneration of important antioxidants such as vitamins C and E. Glutathione is composed of three amino acids: glutamate, cysteine, and glycine. Sulforaphane increases the body’s production of glutathione.

Green chemoprotection

A food-centered approach to protection against chronic disease. Green chemoprotection harnesses the chemical capabilities of plants to develop a wide variety of chemical agents that can protect animal cells against damaging processes that lead to chronic diseases. A fundamental aspect of green chemoprotection is its sustainability in underserved populations.

H. pylori

A bacterium typically resident in the human stomach. Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, can survive the harsh acidic conditions of the stomach and has been implicated in the cause of peptic ulcer disease and stomach cancer. Antibiotic therapy is commonly used to eradicate H. pylori, but sulforaphane, an isothiocyanate compound derived from broccoli, has been shown to reduce H. pylori populations markedly, and may offer a more cost-effective means of treating H. pylori infection in developing nations.

Healthspan

The enjoyment of good health, or aging with minimal handicap and near full function for the duration of a vigorous and productive natural life.

Heat shock response

An orchestrated set of cellular responses to stress. Heat shock response is characterized by the production of heat shock proteins, which help cells survive under conditions that would normally cause cell death. Conditions that trigger the heat shock response include exposure to toxic chemicals, temperature extremes (cold or hot), infection, and chronic diseases, such as cancer.

Helicobacter pylori

A bacterium typically resident in the human stomach. Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, can survive the harsh acidic conditions of the stomach and has been implicated in the cause of peptic ulcer disease and stomach cancer. Antibiotic therapy is commonly used to eradicate H. pylori, but sulforaphane, an isothiocyanate compound derived from broccoli, has been shown to reduce H. pylori populations markedly and may offer a more cost-effective means of treating H. pylori infection in developing nations.

Indirect antioxidant

A compound that induces a wide range of protective enzymes in the body, many of which are involved in countering oxidative stress. Indirect antioxidants do not directly quench or inhibit oxidation. Rather, they increase the activity of many direct antioxidants that, in turn, protect cells from oxidative stress. Sulforaphane and its precursor, glucoraphanin, are considered indirect antioxidants.

Inflammation

A critical aspect of the body’s immune response. Inflammation is a protective response that occurs when the body is exposed to harmful stimuli, such as bacteria, viruses, damaged cells, or irritants. It involves immune cells, cell-signaling proteins, and pro-inflammatory factors. Acute inflammation occurs after minor injuries or infections and is characterized by local redness, swelling, or fever. Chronic inflammation occurs on the cellular level in response to toxins or other stressors and is often “invisible.” Inflammation plays a key role in the development of many chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Isothiocyanate

The byproduct of a reaction between two compounds (glucosinolates and myrosinase) found in the leaves and stems of cruciferous vegetables. Isothiocyanates inhibit phase 1 biotransformation enzymes (enzymes that transform procarcinogens into carcinogens) and activate phase 2 detoxification enzymes (enzymes that protect cells and DNA from free radicals and carcinogens). Examples of phase II enzymes include UDP-glucuronosyltransferases, sulfotransferases, N-acetyltransferases, glutathione S-transferases, and methyltransferases.

Mitochondria

Small organelles inside cells that convert nutrients and oxygen into energy for the cell. Mitochondria are often referred to as the cell’s power plants because of their role in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Mitochondria undergo a regular process of self-renewal known as mitophagy, which repairs damage that occurs during their energy-generating activities.

Moringin

An isothiocyanate compound present in the plant Moringa oleifera

 

Myrosinase

An enzyme found in the leaves, stems, and flowers of moringa and cruciferous plants such as broccoli, broccoli sprouts, kale, and others. Chopping, chewing, or otherwise damaging the plants causes a reaction between myrosinase and other plant chemicals called glucosinolates. The end product of the reaction is a compound called an isothiocyanate. Myrosinase is also found in the human gut. It is produced by the commensal, or “friendly,” microbes that reside there. Myrosinase in the gut can convert ingested glucosinolates (such as glucoraphanin) into isothiocyanates (such as sulforaphane), albeit to varying degrees, due to variations in the gut microbial make-up among different individuals.

Nrf2

A cellular protein that regulates the expression of antioxidant and stress response proteins. Nrf2 functions within a biological pathway called Keap1-Nrf2-ARE, where it switches on the transcription of various proteins that protect cells against damage triggered by injury and inflammation. Sulforaphane is the most potent naturally occurring inducer of these proteins.

Phase 2 response

The coordinated induction or boosting of protective enzymes in the body. Phase 2 enzymes catalyze diverse reactions that collectively result in broad protection against electrophiles and oxidants. They can be induced by a variety of naturally occurring agents, such as phytochemicals, as well as synthetic agents. Sulforaphane is the most potent naturally occurring inducer of the phase 2 response in humans.

Phytochemical

Compounds produced in plants in response to environmental stressors such as water scarcity, ionizing radiation, or insect attack. Phytochemicals lend color, flavor, and odor to many fruits and vegetables. While categorically toxic, phytochemicals are ingested by humans at concentrations that are too low, in most instances, to produce illness. Rather, they switch on a vast array of responses that protect cells from harm, a biological phenomenon referred to as hormesis.

PHYTOPHARMACOLOGY

The study and use of plant-based compounds in the prevention and treatment of disease. Phytopharmacology draws on elements of phytochemistry and biochemistry as well as the historical and ethnobotanical uses of plant-based compounds in medicine.

Sulforaphane

An isothiocyanate compound derived from broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Sulforaphane is produced when the plant is damaged when attacked by insects or eaten by humans. It is created by the action of myrosinase, on the precursor glucoraphanin. Sulforaphane switches on a vast array of proteins that protect cells from damage. Sulforaphane has demonstrated beneficial effects on a wide array of chronic diseases, including air pollution toxicity, asthma, autism, radiation dermatitis, cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, lung, and prostate, and others.