Green Veggies Help Train Digestive Immune System

October 19, 2011 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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 Green Veggies Help Train Digestive Immune System
In a stunning discovery researchers have shown for the first time how green vegetables are required to activate and maintain specialized lymphocytes (immune cells) that line your digestive tract. These special immune cells not only protect against foreign invasion, they help to maintain harmony in the foreign cells that are naturally part of your intestinal balance. Furthermore, these cells help coordinate the healthy structure of your intestinal wall and are involved with orchestrating repair of your intestinal wall as needed. If you don’t have enough of these immune cells working properly, then other immune cells get all bent out of shape and go into inflammatory hyper-drive.

“It is still surprising to me,” said Marc Veldhoen of The Babraham Institute in Cambridge. “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.”

This study is extremely important as the health of your digestive tract has come front and center in your efforts to be healthy based on many new gene discoveries. For example, imbalanced digestive bacteria are involved with mood disorders and weight gain as primary causes of these problems. This discovery places green veggies on par with adequate fiber and friendly flora as tools to help keep your digestive tract in optimal working order.

This information is especially timely for the cold and flu season. Remember, when someone around you coughs and sneezes and you breath in that air, you will then swallow and those germs will be in your digestive tract. The hydrochloric acid in your stomach takes the first crack at them (hopefully you aren’t on antacids) and then it is up to your immune system. Having adequate numbers of these specialized lymphocytes is vital for a healthy immune response during the cold and flu season.

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