In today’s world, everything, from the vaccines we are given, to even the air and water we take in, almost everything, unavoidably contains substances that our body can’t normally excrete out once taken in. Detox diets focus on flushing out such toxins from your body and neutralising the free radicals that accelerate the aging process. This sounds and really is quite easy for the rest of the body, but brain has a different story.
Why is the brain tougher to detox?
The brain is the most vital organ of the body. In order to keep it safe from the dangers that otherwise lurk undeterred in the rest of the body, evolution has developed a mechanism known medically as the ‘Blood-Brain Barrier’ and ‘Blood-CSF Barrier’. Putting it shortly, almost nothing but the bare essentials are allowed to enter the brain from blood. This restricts toxins and drugs alike from entering it.
The brain gets its circulation not through blood, but through CSF (Cerebro-Spinal Fluid), which is formed by filtering blood out to get rid of as many harmful substances as possible. So, even if some toxins do somehow enter your blood circulation, they are quite unlikely to reach and affect your brain. Weakening of this safety barrier is believed to be related to several serious neurological diseases, including Multiple Sclerosis.
Unfortunately, some harmful toxins are able to cross this barrier too; the biggest villains being heavy metals, such as Lead, Aluminium, Mercury and Arsenic. More sadly, many antioxidants (the molecules from detox foods, that delay the aging process by reacting with and removing free radicals) are NOT able to cross this barrier. So basically, its the demons that go and remain inside, when most angels can’t even find entry in the brain! Anyways, now we’ll see how to put some angels in and kick the demons out.
And Then Comes the Saviour from…. Broccoli (?!)
The name is Alpha-lipoic acid; also called lipoic acid, thioctic acid or ALA to be brief. Do NOT confuse this with Alpha linolenic acid, the lesser known Omega-3 acid. (By the way, Omega-3s too, are great for your health. To know more about them, read this informative article). However, Alpha-Lipoic acid has a different important identity – it is a GREAT antioxidant. Great because of four reasons –
- It is both water- and lipid- soluble, meaning a far better outreach throughout the body tissue – inside as well as outside cells.
- Yes, you guessed it right… it not only crosses the blood- brain barrier, but also repairs a damaged one, keeping toxins at bay.
- It can react with and remove almost all heavy metals from places inside the brain, where other scavenging molecules can’t reach.
- It rehabilitates other antioxidants like Vit.C, Vit.E and glutathione and makes them reusable after they are ‘worn out’ from repeated use in the body. Double Bonus!
And now let me bring you back to the headline which should have been the bottomline – broccoli is the best natural diet source of ALA!
Having told all this, comes the practical part – Broccoli isn’t a very commonplace and cheap veggie in most of the world, like in my own beloved India, where its distant lookalike cauliflower is more effectively being a health-breaker instead of maker. (Here comes the real bonus – if you are studious enough to still be reading 😉 ). So what are the options to broccoli? Here’s a brief list in decreasing order of ALA concentration. Go through it, and pick your choice!
Personally, I love spinach – it is cheap, easily available in India and has a longer shelf-life than broccoli. My Mom makes two very popular mouth-watering Indian recipes from it – Palak Paneer and Rani Palak. Well, I don’t really know the recipes, neither is this a recipe blog, but surely dozens of sites out there have these recipes hosted, if you want to try them out. Search it on the web, or share your own broccoli/spinach recipe links in the comments. We will be more than happy to publish them.
And… if you are too lazy for all this, just add a salad of broccoli or spinach to your breakfast menu. It makes an effortless daily detox supplement. Enjoy the healthy flavour, and don’t forget to share your experience!
Spread the wellness!
Stay Healthy, Stay Happy!
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About the Author –
Dr. Harshad Rajandekar is a medical practitioner based out of Nasik (MH, India) specializing in Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine. He holds an Ayurvedacharya degree from the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, Nashik; and is licensed to practise Ayurvedic and modern medicine in the State of Maharashtra, India. He can be reached here for consultation related queries.