Oxidative stress is high in rheumatoid arthritis suffers. In this study (Antioxidants & Redox Signaling 15(4)), Nrf2, a master regulator of redox balance, was examined in an animal model of rheumatoid arthritis. Nrf2 deficiency accelerated the incidence of arthritis, and animals showed widespread disease affecting both front and hind paws. So the Nrf2 deficient mice inflammatory response was enhanced, with increased migration of leukocytes (immune cells) and joint destruction in front paws. An increased production of inflammatory markers was seen with Nrf2 deficiency including tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). The expression of COX-2 (NSAIDs are used to block this), inducible nitric oxide synthase and peroxynitrite in the joints was higher in Nrf2 deficiency. So Nrf2 may be a therapy for arthritis as these type of results support a protective role of Nrf2 against joint inflammation and degeneration in arthritis.
What does this have to do with nutrition?
Well, because many colored fruits and vegetables activate Nrf2. Examples of phytochemicals with this ability include sulforaphane from broccoli, curcumin from turmeric, and resveratrol, found in foods such as grapes, wine, blueberries, cranberries, and even cocoa/dark chocolate.
Broccoli-derived sulforaphane emerges as a phytochemical powerhouse as it more potently activates Nrf2 to induce the expression of a battery of cytoprotective genes. By virtue of its lipophilic nature and low molecular weight, sulforaphane displays significantly higher bioavailability than many other polyphenol-based dietary supplements that also activate Nrf2.
WARNING! When frozen, broccoli loses ALL sulforaphane. Eat Fresh!