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A chemical in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables may help to restore your immune system as you age. UCLA researchers found that the chemical, sulforaphane, switches on a set of antioxidant genes and enzymes in specific immune cells, which fight the damaging effects of free radicals.
Free radicals are a supercharged form of oxygen that can cause oxidative tissue damage — for example, they can trigger the inflammation process that causes clogged arteries. Oxidative damage is thought to be one of the major causes of aging.
According to researchers, treating older mice with sulforaphane increased their immune response to the level of younger mice.
The ability of sulforaphane to reinvigorate the immune system abilities of aged tissues could play an important role in reversing much of the negative impact of free radicals.
Science Daily March 10, 2008
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology March 6, 2008