"Eat your green vegetables, they are good for you." This is a phrase that is echoed constantly throughout the health and nutrition world. We tout their value to our children while at the same time many of us neglect our own green vegetable intake. Now, as scientists revealed in recent research findings, leafy greens may have a deeper impact on our health - specifically digestive health - than was already thought.
The Heart of Healthy Digestion
When we are digesting food, there is a lot that takes place in our stomach. Among the cells, enzymes, and their many functions are a certain type of newly discovered immune cells, called innate lymphoid cells (ILC's) that can be found within the lining of our digestive system. Their job is to protect the body from 'bad' bacteria that enters the intestine. It is also believed that they play an important role in controlling food allergies, inflammatory problems, and supporting healthy weight management. In a recent discovery, Dr. Gabrielle Belz, Ms. Lucie Rankin, and Dr. Joanna Groom from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research, Molecular Immunology division, revealed that the gene T-bet is essential in helping to produce these critical, newly discovered immune cells (ILC's) in the stomach and digestive system. And furthermore, the healthy connection relates to the fact that it is apparent this gene responds to signals in the food we eat.
The Green Connection
In the study, Dr. Beltz and her team of scientists discovered that the T-bet gene acts as a signal, which tells precursor cells to develop these important ILC's, which have been revealed to protect the body against infections entering through the digestive system. The leafy green connection is said to be the proteins contained within leafy green vegetables. By interacting with cell surface receptors, proteins contained in cruciferous vegetables switch on the T-bet gene, thereby influencing the production of these vital ILC's, helping to protect our immune system from bacteria and potential digestive complications. Dr Belz noted that her team will also continue to further investigate how influential these greens can be with the T-bet gene, what other foods may act as a signaling pathway, and how they influence the production of these newly discovered innate lymphoid cells. However the list of important health benefits that green vegetables provide us with keeps growing year after year. Consistently choosing to ‘eat green' and also supplementing our bodies to receive the daily vitamins and minerals we need for optimal production have wondrous positive influence to our overall health. Taking individual vitamins on a daily basis to focus on a particular need, or supplementing a multivitamin into our diet everyday can help catapult our lifestyles towards balanced nutrition.