We all know that our immune system is the first line of defense against a wide array of potentially deadly pathogens, bacteria and viruses. Yet many people take this crucial defense barrier for granted and do little to ensure that they are adequately protected against a multitude of microscopic invaders.
Researchers publishing the result of a research body performed at the University of Cambridge in the journal Cell demonstrate that compounds found in green vegetables, from bok choy to broccoli are the source of a chemical signal that is important to activate a fully functioning immune system. Help protect yourself and your family from maladies ranging from the common cold, influenza to autoimmune diseases and certain cancers by including healthy portions of green vegetables in your daily diet.
Include Ten or More Fresh Vegetable Servings Daily to Boost Immune Health
Prior research indicated the breakdown of cruciferous vegetables can yield a compound that can be converted into a molecule that triggers the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) on cell wall surfaces. Further reports found AhR’s can be regulated by dietary ingredients found primarily in vegetables including broccoli, kale, spinach and many varieties of leafy greens. This action ensures that immune cells in the gut and the skin known as intra-epithelial lymphocytes (IELs) function properly.
Researchers fed otherwise healthy mice a vegetable-poor diet for several weeks were amazed to find that 70 to 80 percent of these protective IEL cells disappeared during this short period. Dr. Marc Veldhoen, lead study author noted that, “protective IELs exist as a network beneath the barrier of epithelial cells covering inner and outer body surfaces, where they are important as a first line of defense and in wound repair.” It was determined the number of IEL cells can be regulated by dietary ingredients found primarily in cruciferous vegetables.
A Diet High in Sugar and Processed Carbohydrates Lowers System Immune Response
Poor dietary intake consisting mostly of hydrogenated and oxidized fats, sugar and processed foods directly alters the surface receptors of cells lining the digestive tract, responsible for more than 80 percent of our immune response. Researchers commented “individuals fed a synthetic diet lacking this key compound experience a significant reduction in AhR activity and lose IELs. With reduced numbers of these key immune cells, individuals showed lower levels of antimicrobial proteins, heightened immune activation and greater susceptibility to injury.”
Dr. Veldhoen concluded "it's already a good idea to eat your greens… the results offer a molecular basis for the importance of cruciferous vegetable-derived phyto-nutrients as part of a healthy diet.” The current recommendation to eat 3 to 5 servings of vegetables and fruit each day is anemic and insufficient in the light of this important study. Health-minded people will want to include fresh, raw greens at the core of their diet and include 10 or more generous servings each day to boost immune health.