Here is the full transcript of nutritionist Tom Malterre’s TEDx Talk: Broccoli – the DNA whisperer at TEDxBellingham Conference. Tom Malterre is a functional medicine-trained nutritionist with over 10 years of clinical experience working with nutrient deficiencies, chemical exposures, and the gut microbiome, and is the writer of the book: The Elimination Diet.
Tom Malterre – Functional medicine-trained nutritionist
So, I am a father of five beautiful children. And every night that I am telling them stories and they’re telling me stories, I have to say, my heart swells. And I get this ‘papa bear’ instinct where I want to wrap my arms around them and just keep them safe.
But I’m seeing in today’s day and age that’s becoming harder and harder. My primary job is to evaluate medical scientific literature, and instruct physicians on nutritional biochemistry. And what I’m seeing in that data is a little disconcerting.
Take air pollution for example. The medical journal, Lancet, just this month told us that air pollution is upgraded to a Grade 1 carcinogen. What does this mean? This means the particulate that’s coming up from fossil fuels, diesel exhaust, is getting into our cells, into our bodies, irritating our cells, changing their shape and behavior to make them cancerous. And all these reports we’re hearing from Beijing of this terrible air pollution that you’re hoping stays in China, doesn’t stay there.
NASA has been tracking a phenomenon called ‘the brown cloud.’ Those pollutants get up in the jet stream and within seven days time deposit themselves on the Western seaboard of the United States, on my children’s home.
If that’s not enough, look at some of the data on pesticides. There are hundreds of millions of pounds of these substances applied on planet Earth every single year. Some of these are known neurotoxins. And we’re seeing them in the umbilical cord blood of unborn children. As the levels of these chemicals go up, the IQ scores go down.
So, I literally leave my office some days, I’ll go outside, and I’ll look up at the sky and I’ll say, like “Oh my gosh, isn’t there somebody out there who can help us?” As if I’m half expecting Superman to swoop down and (blows) blow away all the air pollution and pesticides.
But thankfully, when I run back to my office and I get on the phone with world-renowned researchers, and I read thousands of papers, I see hope in desperation. I see we have superheroes right here, right now. And some of them are in your fridge. You might have even had them last night for dinner. It turns out that super broccoli can do amazing things.
And broccoli has a chemical in it called sulforaphane, and this chemical will get into each and every one of your cells, and whisper to your DNA. You see, the biohazards that come in through pollution will get into your cells and irritate them. And sulforaphane from broccoli will migrate in, seep into your cells, bind to a substance in your cells that releases a magical DNA-reading compound called Nrf2. This whispers to your DNA and it says, “Hey, you can do more. You can be more!” And next thing you know, you start producing antioxidant proteins that combat all these biohazards.
At the same time, you start producing detoxification proteins that shuttle these biohazards out of your cells. In essence, what you’re left with is increased cellular function. Because sulforaphane was ultimately discovered by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Talalay and Dr. Kang, who were looking for the most ultimate substance on the planet to combat cancer.
And we’re seeing in the presence of the consumption of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, that you protect yourself from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer. You’ll see the numbers of colorectal cancer go down as you increase your servings of cruciferous vegetables.
It turns out that this whispering to your DNA is the ultimate antioxidant. Look, you know what a whisperer is, right? Horse whisperer, dog whisperer, you’ve seen those on TV. These are people who know you better than you know you. You’re in somebody’s presence who’s a whisperer, like you look into their eyes, and all of a sudden you feel taller, you feel stronger, you feel like you can do more, you can be more. So, that’s why we call broccoli a superhero. The DNA Whisperer, Superhero.
And it looks like, of course, he has plenty of friends. We’ve got the cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, arugula, and even cress. This little bitter cress you see on the screen grows across the United States and people consider this a weed. It’s not a weed! It’s a DNA Whisperer! Pick it out of your garden, put it in your salad, eat it, and protect yourself.
You know, the average person will look at this and say, ew, it’s time for Roundup. No, don’t spray Roundup, round it up and eat the stuff. It’s fantastic!