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Turn On Your Brain-Protective Genes with Broccoli, Sulforaphane, and Other Foods/Nutrients

Brain inflammation has been associated with Alzheimer's Disease, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Parkinson's Disease, to name a few neurodegenerative diseases (1). Brain inflammation symptoms may include hyperactivity, restlessness, brain fog, lack of concentration and focus, brain-aging, headaches, etc.

The Nrf2 are neuroprotective genes that are crucial for an optimal brain function. Foods will turn on or decrease the activation of these crucial genes. Sulforaphane (SFN) from broccoli is one of the most potent activators of Nrf2 and a major brain-protective nutrient. Consumption of sulforaphane from broccoli increases a variety of protective genes and decreases inflammation in the cells of patients with autism (2). Sulforaphane from different vegetables, especially broccoli, have shown improvements in behavior and cognition in children with autism with negligible side effects (3).

Foods like refined carbohydrates (white rice, pasta, bread), unhealthy fats, and sugary drinks will promote inflammation and may add to the brain inflammation that is already present in Alzheimer's, autism, ADHD, and Parkinson's.

Foods and Nutrients that Promote Optimal Brain Function (4)

  • Broccoli

  • Sulforaphane extract from broccoli, kale, Brussel Sprouts, etc.

  • Green tea

  • Cocoa

  • Dark Chocolate

  • Curcumin

  • Omega-3 fatty acids

  • Vitamin D

  • Flavonoids

In summary, the food selection that we do every day will have a brain-boosting or detrimental effect depending on what we choose to eat or feed our children, especially autism.

"Creativity is contagious,

pass it on".

Albert Einstein

There is Hope For Autism!!

David Rivas, RPh, MSc, CCN

Pharmacist and Clinical Nutritionist/Consultant


(1): Dinkova‐Kostova, A. T., Kostov, R. V., & Kazantsev, A. G. (2018). The role of Nrf2 signaling in counteracting neurodegenerative diseases. The FEBS Journal, 285(19), 3576-3590.

(2): Liu, H., Zimmerman, A. W., Singh, K., Connors, S. L., Diggins, E., Stephenson, K. K., ... & Fahey, J. W. (2020). Biomarker Exploration in Human Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells for Monitoring Sulforaphane Treatment Responses in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 1-11.

(3): McGuinness, G., & Kim, Y. (2020). Sulforaphane treatment for autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review. EXCLI JOURNAL, 19, 892-903.

(4): Gómez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(7), 568-578.

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