SHERYL AFONSO e D’SOUZA
CLINICAL NUTRITIONIST (NORBERT’S FITNESS STUDIO) & ASST. PROFESSOR (POST-GRADUATE DEGREE STUDIES, CARMEL COLLEGE)
A member of the cruciferous family, cabbage comes packed with a myriad of nutrients, including minerals such as calcium, vitamins A, C, and K, and folate, and phytonutrients that act as antioxidants and reduce the risk of cancers. Cabbage juice has been a traditional treatment for peptic ulcers since it supports the mucosal linings of the gastrointestinal tract. The juice is also rich in sulforaphane, an antioxidant that targets Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium implicated as a causative factor of peptic ulcers. Rich in the digestive quintessential dietary fibre, that helps reduce lipid levels, consuming cabbage in large quantities can, however, result in undesirable digestive events such as flatulence and bloating. This is due to the presence of the indigestible sugar raffinose in it.
Due to a large amount of vitamin K in cabbage, eating too much cabbage can interfere with blood-thinning and anti-coagulation medications, generally prescribed for individuals with lipid disorders and cardiovascular ailments. Cabbage is also a goitrogenic food; it contains glucosinulates which interfere with the production of thyroid hormone, thereby contributing to hypothyroidism in individuals.
Dependent on your state of health, the cabbage, in general, comes across as a ‘safe-for-health’ food. With specific reference to the kidney, cabbage receives the go-ahead from dietitians and nutritionists across the global, even in cases of CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease or Failure). Potassium is a mineral that is required to keep the heart beating regularly and muscles working right. Problems can occur when blood potassium levels are either too low or too high. Damaged kidneys allow potassium to build up in the blood, causing serious heart problems. The cabbage is a relatively low-potassium vegetable, and can thus be safely included in the diet (either raw or cooked) of individuals with kidney ailments. If the amount of potassium in cabbage is still a cause of concern, the levels of this mineral in any food can be further lowered by soaking the vegetable/ fruit in water and discarding the water prior to cooking or consumption. Another mineral that needs to be used with caution in patients with CKD is sodium, and, once again, cabbage figures in the list of low-sodium foods. Hence, the consumption of cabbage by people with kidney disorders WILL NOT cause harm, nor will it lead to ultimate kidney failure.
A final word of advice – doctors are learned and competent in diagnosing illnesses and prescribing medications, surgeries, and medicine-related therapies (not diet-related therapy) for the same. The forte of nutritionists and dietitians lies in their mastery of ‘food’ (not medicine) and its effect on health. The many years that a nutritionist spends studying about food-body-health interactions make her/him proficient in suggesting dietary methods of handling disease and disorder just like the numerous years a doctor spends learning the intricacies of medical therapy makes him/her adept at handling illness medically! Each one does his/ her work best when left to advice on their field of expertise …. A doctor on medicine and a dietitian on food!