Cruciferous Veggies Essential for Optimal Immune Health?
Here is yet another reason to eat your veggies, especially those dark leafy crucifers like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, collard greens, bok choy, and cabbage. A recent study found that immune cells essential to intestinal and overall health might be controlled by the leafy greens in our diet.
Researchers from the Walters + Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia identified a gene, called T-bet, that produces the innate lymphoid (immune) cells (ILCs), and responds to the foods we eat. ILCs promote good gut health by keeping unwanted bacteria out of the intestine, helping control or prevent conditions like cancer, food allergies, obesity, and inflammation.
So how exactly does our food interact with our genes? In this instance, the proteins in cruciferous vegetables like kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage interact with a cell surface receptor that switches on T-bet, possibly playing a role in producing the immune cells, according to researchers. “ILCs are essential for immune surveillance of the digestive system and this is the first time that we have identified a gene responsible for the production of ILCs,” said Dr. Gabrielle Belz in a Walters + Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research press release.
Dr. Belz goes on to say, “our research shows that, without the gene T-bet, the body is more susceptible to bacterial infections that enter through the digestive system. This suggests that boosting ILCs in the gut may aid in the treatment of these bacterial infections,” Dr Belz commented.
This type of research… “will give us more insight into how the food we eat influences our immune system and gut bacteria,” said Dr. Belz.
The importance of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables has never been greater as we are learning every day about the subtle yet key factors that eating whole foods brings for our health.