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Lecithin

Lecithin is a fatlike substance called a phospholipid. It is produced daily by the liver if the diet is adequate. It is needed by every cell in the body and is a key building block of cell membranes; without it, they would harden. Lecithin protects cells from oxidation and largely comprises the protective sheaths surrounding the brain. Lecithin is a lipid that consists mostly of choline, but also includes inositol, phosphorus, and linoleic acid. Lecithin helps to prevent arteriosclerosis, protects against cardiovascular disease, improves brain function, helps keep the liver and kidneys healthy, aids in thiamin and vitamin A absorption, and can even help to repair liver damage caused by alcoholism–this nutrient is essential to every living cell in the human body.

The choline and inositol in lecithin protect against hardening of the arteries and heart disease by promoting normal processing of fat and cholesterol. Lecithin itself helps to bind fats and cholesterol to water so that they can pass through the body rather than cause a potentially harmful buildup in the heart or liver. Cell membranes, the protective sheaths surrounding the brain, and nerve cells also contain this essential fatty substance.

The choline found in lecithin helps the body produce acetylcholine, a substance that acts as a chemical messenger to parts of the nervous system, and is essential to the brain’s memory function. Studies have shown that people taking lecithin have significant improvement in memory test scores and fewer memory lapses. Dr. Safford, who conducted studies that showed lecithin and choline supplements seem to actually boost memory, also noted that the health benefits of lecithin are seen almost immediately. “ The fascinating thing about lecithin is that when it helps, it’s right away. It’s one of the few substances like alcohol, which crosses the blood-brain barrier and produces an immediate reaction.

“H. pylori is a known carcinogen,” . “The fact that we were able to reduce the effects of an infectious agent that is also a carcinogen gives us hope that if someone were to eat broccoli sprouts or broccoli regularly, it would reduce levels of H. pylori and, over a period of many years, reduce the chance that they would get that cancer. It is not proven, but the results are highly suggestive.”

The researchers also found that inflammation levels in the stomach were reduced by consumption of broccoli sprouts. “The fact that the levels of infection and inflammation were reduced suggests the likelihood of getting gastritis and ulcers and cancer is probably reduced,” Fahey said. “The evidence is all pointing toward broccoli or broccoli sprouts being able to prevent cancer in humans.”

The researchers believe that much of broccoli’s protective benefit comes from its high levels of sulforaphane. In addition to functioning as an antibiotic, this chemical stimulates the body to reduce a number of enzymeswith different health benefits. Prior research has shown that some of these enzymes protect the skin from sun damage, while others act to reduce inflammation or prevent heart disease.

On April 6, 2009 it was concluded that munching on broccoli sprouts may help protect the stomach from the germ responsible for many cases of gastritisulcers, and stomach cancer. Researchers say it’s the first study to show a beneficial effect of broccoli sprouts on a bacterial infection behind stomach cancer.

Broccoli sprouts are much higher than mature broccoli heads in delivering a biochemical called sulforaphane, which has previously been shown to have potentially anticancer effects. The compound appears to work by triggering the body, especially the gastrointestinal tract, to produce enzymes that protect against damage-causing chemicals and inflammation. “We know that a dose of a couple ounces a day of broccoli sprouts is enough to elevate the body’s protective enzymes,” researcher Jed W. Fahey, MS, ScD, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says in a news release. “That is the mechanism by which we think a lot of the chemoprotective effects are occurring.”



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