The basis of a bodybuilding diet is chicken breasts with rice. It’s about delivering basic nutrients that promote muscle and muscle mass growth – proteins and carbohydrates. Vegetarians, of course, use veggies in their menu, mainly for the portions of essential fibre that regulates the digestive tract. Mostly, they do not, however, apply any thought to the kind of vegetables they eat; Vegetables are healthy, vegetables are vegetables. Few know the fact that in vegetables the sea hides an anabolic reserve of its kind – phytochemical substances, which support the development of musculature. One such substance is, for example, sulforaphane and a vegetable that is particularly rich in this ingredient – broccoli.
Sulforaphane is known primarily for its health properties, where its antitumor activity is exerted on the forefront. Bodybuilders and power athletes, on the other hand, should be interested in the fact that science has long been associated with him with enormous hopes as a cure for muscle disease with severe muscle loss.
One of the most unpleasant diseases of this type, characterized by progressive and irreversible atrophy (muscle atrophy), is muscular dystrophy from Duchenne (DMD). While effective anti-depressants are currently lacking, in recent years Chinese researchers led by Cheng-Cao Sun, who in recent years have published two studies (and one review) in the past few years, have drawn a perspective on winning the battle against DMD. Now, giving this compound called mdx mice that is the animal model of DMD, have resulted in a decrease in muscle-damaging catabolic hormones such as TNF-alpha and IL-1 beta interleukin, commonly referred to as catabolism, and ultimately to a significant improvement in the muscle mass of treated rodents. At the same time, the improvement was so spectacular that the sick rodents were able to build muscle mass, even slightly, in some cases, the size of the muscles of healthy mice was parallel in the control group.
Research by Chinese researchers has explained that the positive effect of sulforaphane on the muscle is due to the activation of this compound of the transcriptional factor Nrf2. This observation was consistent with the results of the Malaguti experience of 2009, in which sulforaphane significantly increased Nrf2 activity in rats’ after hard physical effort. Transcription factors are activated mostly (indirectly or directly) by hormones and under the influence of this activation stimulate the genes to produce the corresponding proteins. The mechanism of hormonal regulation of the body’s function is based. Some transcription factors, activated by anabolic hormones, are extremely important for the condition of our muscles, as exemplified by testosterone-mediated transcription factors and anabolic-androgenic steroids, called androgenic nuclear receptors. On the other hand, evidence of how important it is for the condition of the muscles activated, among other things, by sulforaphane Nrf2, provide studies in mice lacking these transcription factors by appropriate genetic manipulation. As it turns out: the muscles of mammals unable to activate Nrf2 retain only about 30% of their resting and regeneration capacity after heavy training, compared to the non-mutant rodents producing this transcription factor normally (Narashimhan, 2014).
Destroyer of myostatin
We all know that anabolic and catabolic hormones circulate in our bodies, where they build first and the second one degrades muscles. Because one of the strongest catabolic (and generally anti-muscular) hormones is myostatin (as its name implies), therefore, molecules that block myostatin production or activity are needed for the treatment of diseases with significant muscle mass loss. And in that context, they conducted research by German researchers, led by Han, publishing the fruits of his work in 2012.
These experiments were carried out on isolated muscle stem cells known as satellite cells that contribute the greatest part to regeneration and hypertrophy of muscle by myogenesis, where these cells divide and either merge together by mutual fusion to form new muscle fibbers, Or they fuse with already existing muscle fibbers, supplying them with additional nuclei and mitochondria, stimulating repair and growth processes. Researchers added to the culture medium of sulforaphane satellite cells, observing that, by its effect, compared to control cells, they increase by about 40% the viability of these cells, and decrease by about 75% of catabolic enzymes, destroying muscle proteins, about 50% myostatin production level. However, the activity of sulforaphane did not end here. As it turned out, sulforaphane also increased the production of 3-cell messengers that blocked the catabolic myostatin signalling pathway at the same time. It is not enough that sulforaphane is able to lower myostatin levels in the muscles by half, but it also weakens its anti-muscular activity by 3 times. We must admit that it is a real destroyer of myostatin…
According to the authors of the study discussed above, such sulforaphane activity was due to the fact that this compound is an inhibitor (blocker) of a group of enzymes, commonly called histone deacetylases. Anabolic hormones, as we remember, activate (directly or indirectly) transcription factors that stimulate genes for the synthesis of various proteins that have a positive effect on the volume of our muscles. In contrast, histone deacetylases, to put it simply, limit gene access to transcription factors. Thus blocking the deacetylase with an inhibitor enhances anabolic hormone activity and contributes to muscle gain. And indeed: as demonstrated by Simone Iezzi in 2004, histone deacetylase inhibitors inhibit myostatin activity and increase the efficiency of the fusion of satellite cells between 150-300%, and eventually increase by about 70% the muscle mass of the contractile muscle fibrils. However, the anabolic effect of this type of compound is most apparent in the Consalvi work of 2013, where mice treated with a histone deacetylase inhibitor increased about 35% of their muscle mass compared to control rodents.
Broccoli on the table!
By training and paying a sports diet, we need to eat vegetables. So maybe, considering the results of research on sulforaphane instead of carrots or lettuce, add a few broccolis to your mandatory chicken with rice… If the daily dose of this vegetable poses a problem, you can just as well use 2-3 teaspoons of dried, powdered Broccoli, added to some salad or another dish.