Green veggies enhance immunity during the flu season

Monday, October 24, 2011 by: Michelle Bosmier
Tags: flu season, green vegetables, health news

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(NaturalNews) Scientists at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, working together with the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research, have recently carried out a new study that looked at how green vegetables influence immunity. Published in the online Journal Cell (a Cell Press publication), the research has identified a definite connection between specific chemicals found in green vegetables (such as broccoli and Chinese cabbage) and the good functioning of the immune system. It appears that tiny chemical compounds found in common green vegetables interact with immune cells of the gut, known as intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs), by effectively protecting them and boosting their numbers.

Intraepithelial lymphocytes are white blood cells that inhabit the area under the epithelium layer that lines many cavities and bodily structures. They are concentrated in the gastrointestinal tract, where their primary purpose is to release cytokines and destroy target cells that are infected by pathogens. Because the gastrointestinal tract is one of the main access routes that pathogens use to enter the body, a high count of intraepithelial lymphocytes is extremely beneficial to overall health.

Lead researcher and immunologist Marc Veldhoen, of The Babraham Institute, has stated that this is a surprising find for modern medical science. He conducted his experiment on otherwise healthy mice that were fed a purified synthetic diet almost completely lacking in vegetables.

Dr. Veldhoen's team discovered that IEL numbers are directly linked to the presence of a special receptor protein known as aryl hydrocarbon receptor (Ahr), whose activity can be triggered by compounds found in green vegetables. Ahr proteins play multiple roles in physiology, including assisting the development of bodily cells, modulating adaptive responses in cells, and influencing lymphocyte counts. The science team compared the IEL counts in mice fed a synthetic diet to those from a group of mice that was fed a regular diet, and discovered that the mice in the first group had progressively lost the majority of their IELs, within just days of starting the vegetable free diet.

"I would have expected cells at the surface would play some role in the interaction with the outside world, but such a clear cut interaction with the diet was unexpected. After feeding otherwise healthy mice a vegetable-poor diet for two to three weeks, I was amazed to see 70 to 80 percent of these protective cells disappeared," explained Dr. Veldhoen.

As their immune cell numbers declined, the affected mice scored lower levels of antimicrobial agents and became much more vulnerable to infections and injury. When the intestinal surface of these mice was intentionally damaged to test their immune reaction, the scientists found that their recovery was much slower when compared to the mice that were fed a healthy diet.

"It's tempting to extrapolate to humans, but there are many other factors that might play a role.", said Dr. Veldhoen. He also revealed that he is confident that further research in this direction will surely prove beneficial to humans, as some patterns observed in mice are consistent to those observed in humans suffering from inflammatory bowel disease and other afflictions of the gut. Consequently, until definitive research on humans is carried out, he concluded that "it's already a good idea to eat your greens".

[Editor`s Note: NaturalNews is strongly against the use of all forms of animal testing. We fully support implementation of humane medical experimentation that promotes the health and wellbeing of all living creatures.]

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About the author

Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. In 2010, Michelle created, to share with people her approach to the raw food diet and detoxification.

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