In his new book Mind Body Spirit, Alberto Villoldo describes how even within a week you can build a healthier body that allows you to live longer. He mentions energy techniques to heal your body, but also very simple adjustments to your diet, which can have a huge effect on how you feel. An important team player is an Nrf2 protein.
Nrf2- Egg white
Because of their epigenetic instructions for DNA, some plants are considered superfoods. Cruciferous vegetables are among the very best superfoods. These are cabbage varieties such as broccoli, cauliflower, head cabbage (including green and white cabbage) and kale. (“Cruciferous” does not refer to a characteristic of the vegetable, but to the petals, which are arranged in a cross shape.)
These vegetables are high in fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients (plant compounds with medicinal properties). With this they activate a special protein in our body, namely the Nrf2 protein. It is a powerful working protein. In addition, they switch on the longevity genes (de SIRT-1). The protein protects our organs and tissues from diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia and autoimmune diseases. They can turn on genes that create health and turn off genes that cause disease.
In the so-called ‘blue zones’, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, and all kinds of nuts and seeds are the staple food. Blue zones are areas of the world where residents live unusually long lives and are remarkably healthy. These include Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Ikaria (Greece), and Loma Linda (California).
How Nrf2 proteins work
To get the Nrf2 protein to work, its membrane (a cell membrane keeps the molecules that the cell needs together) must first be detached. This can be caused by stress, but also by plants such as garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, turmeric (turmeric) and other superfoods.
When the protein – apart from its ‘jacket’ – is in your cells, it wakes up antioxidants, detoxifiers and anti-inflammatories. Plus, the longevity genes are turned on (hurrah!). When the job of the Nrf2 proteins is done, they go back to the cell membrane and there they continue to serve you.
Will I always stay healthy if I eat broccoli or turmeric every day?
Fortunately, we can now find the best Nrf2 activators in the health food store around the corner. However, you should know how to try to use it. You can eat so much cauliflower, kale or broccoli, you can’t use the Nrf2 activator sulforaphane present in the flower heads for more than a week without overloading the systems you want to switch on.
You can also prepare a curry every day with turmeric and experience its health benefits – people in India, where curries are widely consumed, are only 15 percent of the risk of Alzheimer’s that Americans run – but you can use curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric, take for a week at most. Then you need to give the body a rest.
To keep things simple, you can eat the whole plant if you want. However, the extract of the plant, the active ingredient, has a dose-dependent effect. That means that a little will benefit you and a large amount will reduce the beneficial effects.
List of miracle foods
Below are some of the most potent plant-based activators of Nrf2 and regulators of the aging process:
- Broccoli is rich in calcium, selenium, and zinc, among other things. Broccoli is high in sulforaphane, a potent Nrf2 activator. Sulforaphane stimulates the longevity genes in the cells.
- Brussels sprouts are rich in folic acid and vitamins A and C. If not fully cooked, they have a very bitter taste, making them the least appreciated cruciferous vegetable. However, grilled or fried, they are very tasty.
- Kale: Full of fiber and nutrients, an excellent source of vitamins C and K, calcium, and magnesium.
- Turmeric: Detoxifies the brain, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and fights fungi and microbes. Turmeric has to be boiled for optimal effect.
- Coconut, walnut, almond and flaxseed oils, like extra virgin olive oils, are concentrated sources of omega-3 fatty acids and have numerous health benefits, from lowering cholesterol levels to alleviating depression.
- Avocados: Rich in fiber and monounsaturated fatty acids (such as oleic acid), which improve the absorption of nutrients in the gut. Avocados are an excellent source of lutein, a carotenoid that fights macular degeneration, and folate, a B vitamin that prevents heart attacks and stroke.
Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of healthy vegetable oil. For optimal results, choose unroasted, organic nuts and seeds:
- Almonds are high in fiber.
- Brazil nuts contain selenium (a cancer inhibitor). Two Brazil nuts contain all the selenium you need in one day.
- Cashew nuts are rich in iron, zinc and magnesium and stimulate the brain.
- Pecans help fight plaque in the arteries.
- Macadamia nuts contain the most monounsaturated fatty acids (the good fat) of all nuts.
- Hemp seed, which contains ten essential amino acids, is an excellent source of protein and contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in an ideal ratio.
- Sesame seeds are high in calcium and other minerals.
- Sunflower seeds are good for digestion.
- Pumpkin seeds contain cholesterol-lowering lignans (phytoestrogens), which aid digestion and regulate the transport of food from the stomach to the small intestine.
Finally, a tip from Villoldo: avoid canned vegetables and fruit. Often chemical nutrients have been added to make it last longer. Plus, the vitamins and nutrients are often gone by the time we eat it. In addition to fresh organic vegetables and home-harvested vegetables, frozen organic foods are highly nutritious.