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.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: Broccoli – the DNA whisperer by Tom Malterre at TEDxBellingham
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!
As an aside, you know, when I’m digging into the research I find more and more hope, right? There’s a group in Idaho who started something called the Mustard Project. They’re actually using the family of vegetables, the mustard family of vegetables, concentrating sulfur compounds, and making incredible non-toxic herbicides. They’re also taking some of the oils and spraying it on the fields and protecting from insects.
But wait a second. They found a use for the additional oil from the extractive process? They’re turning those into bio-fuels. They’re working on some of the cleanest jet fuel on the planet now, being derived from canola oil, that’s from the mustard family.
So, this family of vegetables can do what? It can ramp up our DNA and protect our cells? Yeah. Those Johns Hopkins researchers, they went over to China and they gave sulphoraphane-rich beverages to people who were exposed to air pollution. And they found that those toxins that they were breathing in were found more in the urine after they consumed more sulforaphane. They found rats exposed to pesticides; if you give them sulforaphane, it protects them from damage.
So, wait a second, we can protect ourselves from damage and at the same time we can lower our chemical exposure all from a single family of vegetables? Now, if that’s not the definition of a superhero, I don’t know what is.
And it looks like it’s time to bring these to the limelight, folks. Stop putting this as a side dish in a deli case. Everybody’s mother, brother, sister is eating kale, but come on, broccoli, it’s a 100% less trendy than kale.
Thanks to the ad company Victors & Spoils out of Boulder, Colorado, we’re actually able to approach more people with this message. They’re hitting the male population, one of the hardest to budge on anything, and they’re saying, “Look, broccoli, it’s the alpha-vegetable!” “Broccoli goes great with a side of steak!”
My favorite? “Had a hard day at the steel mill? Have a broquet and man up!”
[Show a bro you care. The Broquet]
But really, we’ve got to get our kids started early. We’ve got to get them accustomed to that baby diaper smell. Enough of this, “Ew, gross!” Enough of this, “Do I have to eat it?” We’ve got to get them started when they’re young, and this is what you do, this is the secret. High-powered blender, lots of freshly-picked fruit; blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, some citrus, because lemon and orange hide the sulfur-y flavor. One leaf at a time, one leaf at a time, blend it up, they hardly notice.