Tag Archives: vegetables

Green vegetables directly influence immune defences and help maintain intestinal health

The discovery will also enable scientists to ask fundamental questions about the frequent interactions of cells of the immune system with external environmental factors. This work may provide a rationale for the reported association between some intestinal and skin disorders, the most frequent of which is psoriasis, as well as diet choices.

Read the research background and view the movie here :http://bbsrc.ac.uk/news/health/2011/111014-pr-green-vegetables.aspx.

Scientists confirm ‘greens’ are good for you

Not that we really need science to tell us that greens and vegetables are good for us but its nice to know that the age old advise to ‘eat your greens’ still holds up. Leafy greens, widely recognized as healthy because they contain essential ingredients for ensuring optimum health and wellbeing. The latest research has now thrown light on the influence these foods have on our intestinal health. It appears that greens delivering a protective factor to certain cells of the immune system. These findings, reported online in the journal Cell, have implications for better understanding the basis of intestinal inflammatory disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and may even offer new opportunities for therapeutic intervention.

Scientists at the UK’s Babraham Institute and the Medical Research Council’s National Institute for Medical Research have been working on chemical components of greens found in the cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. Their research has focused on how these compounds regulate the survival of a special type of white blood cell (known as intra-epithelial lymphocytes or IEL’s for short), part of the body’s front line defence against infections and important in wound repair.

The IEL’s live just under the cells that line digestive tract and play a crucial role in protecting us from disease causing microbes that naturally inhabit the intestine. The research demonstrated that mice fed a diet low in vegetables quickly loose the IEL cells within the intestine. However, a low vegetable diet did not appear to affect other immune cells elsewhere in the body. Despite the low vegetable still delivering all other essential vitamins and minerals around 70-80% of the protective IEL’s simply disappeared within 2-3 weeks!

A key discovery that helped to unlock the mystery centered around the discovery of a special receptor on the surface of the IEL cells known as AhR (short for arly hydrocarbon receptor). A receptor is a special structure on a cell that acts rather like a combination lock. It needs the correct sequence of events to function or influence the function of the cell its found on. In the case of the IEL’s the receptor is activated by compounds found in vegetables. One such compound is called indole-3-carbinol (or I3C for short) and is found in cabbage, broccoli and mustard. Mice fed a low vegetable diet demonstrated low AhR activity while those on a low vegetable diet but supplemented with I3C maintained normal AhR activity and normal healthy IEL function. Interestingly, population studies have linked a diet low in fruit and vegetables with an increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease with results of the present study providing a molecular basis for the importance of cruciferous vegetable-derived phyto-nutrients as part of a healthy diet.

In addition to the influence of IEL cells and intestinal health the scientists also found that IELs present in the mouse skin crucially depend on the activation of AhR. While the nature of the interactions preserving skin IELs is currently unknown, it may provide a rationale for the reported association between some intestinal and skin disorders, the most frequent of which is psoriasis, as well as diet choices. The bottom like here would appear to be “eat your greens” and possibly to look at supplements that contain a booster of nutrients found in greens such as Garden Veggies made by Nature’s Way. Even though a serving of vegetables should never be replaced by a supplement, using Garden Veggies in addition to your daily diet may help ensure optimal levels of the important health promoting vegetable derived compounds.

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Support grows for antioxidant protection in heart disease

There is a lot of talk about “oxidative stress” and heart disease. This process results from an imbalance between excessive formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and/or reactive nitrogen species and limited antioxidant defences. Endothelium (the lining found within blood vessels) and nitric oxide (NO) are key regulators of vascular health. NO bioavailability is regulated by ROS that degrade NO, uncouple NO synthase, and inhibit its production. Cardiovascular risk conditions contribute to oxidative stress, causing an imbalance between NO and ROS, with a relative decrease in NO bioavailability. Dietary flavonoids represent a range of polyphenolic compounds naturally occurring in plant foods. Flavonoids are potentially involved in cardiovascular prevention mainly by decreasing oxidative stress and increasing NO bioavailability.
Diet and nutrition play a fundamental role in cardiovascular prevention and in maintaining physiological homeostasis. Recent literature emphasizes the potential therapeutic effects of micronutrients found in natural products, indicating positive applications for controlling the pathogenesis of chronic cardiovascular disease. In this context, cocoa, some chocolates, red wine, and tea received much attention, because they are particularly rich in flavonoids, phytochemicals with strong antioxidant properties. In addition, polyphenols are the most abundant antioxidants in our diet and are common constituents of foods of plant origin and are widespread constituents of fruits, vegetables, cereals, olive, dry legumes, chocolate and beverages, such as tea, coffee and wine.
The full study is available for down load (click here) where the reaserchers conclude that these key antioxidants exert a protective and preventative finctio in the battle against atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
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Red meat – friend or foe?

For a long time we have demonized red meat as the bringer of ills and cause of all manner of circulatory problems. However, can we still take this standpoint in the light of some ground-breaking research?

On the surface of it, red meat does look to be an issue when we consider heart health as an endpoint. Eating just 50g of processed meat per day (similar portion size as a hot-dog sausage) has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease by a massive 42% and increase your risk of diabetes, a commonly associated complication to heart disease, by 19%. The problem with making recommendations regarding meat intake comes from the fact that until now, processed red meat and unprocessed red meat have all been lumped together under one heading in studies. When we look deeper into the similarities and differences between the processed and unprocessed meats we find similar cholesterol levels but processed meats had up to 50% or more preservatives such as nitrates as unprocessed meat. Such a high preservative content looks to be responsible for the adverse health effects associated with processed meat products. A paper published this May in the journal Circulation is the first of its kind to actually separate processed from unprocessed meat consumption; the results are fascinating. The consumption of unprocessed meat was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease!

Naturally, such breaking is not indented to prompt or stimulate a surge in unprocessed red meat consumption but should reflect the importance of a food, that’s any foods, natural state. The study clearly identifies the addition of unnatural chemicals as a trigger for the food to behave differently once inside the human body. It’s important to keep in mind that along with the added nitrates already mentioned, processed meats also contain added sodium (salt) and even extra fat. We already know that excessive dietary salt elevates blood pressure and that the addition of chemicals such as nitrates promotes atherosclerosis (fatty hardening of the blood vessels) and insulin resistance (one of the causes of type-II diabetes) so it should not be such a surprise that processes meats trigger illness!

What the study underpins is that even a little red meat will probably do you no real harm if taken in it’s natural state and as part of a diet rich in variety and freshness and based in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

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