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article imageEating greens helps the immune system

By Tim Sandle     Mar 8, 2013 in Health
Researchers have put forward the theory that that an immune cell population, essential for intestinal health, could be controlled by leafy greens in typical diets.
Scientists (such as the National Institutes of Health) have previously theorized that immune cells, named innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), which are found in the lining of the digestive system, offer some protection from harmful bacteria in the intestine. The cells are also believed to play a function in controlling food allergies, inflammatory diseases and obesity.
Based on this, researchers have stated, in a press release, that a gene called T-bet is necessary for producing a population of these immune cells. They have also argued that the gene responds to signals in the food we eat. In particular, proteins in green leafy vegetables appear to interact with a cell surface receptor that switches on the T-bet gene.
It could be that eating certain vegetables aids the functioning of the immune system, where the immune system can combat 'bad bacteria', which in turn avoids certain health conditions, ABC News suggests.
At present, the theory is based on reactions in test tubes and within Petri dishes. The findings have not been linked to human trials. That said, there could be something in the link between eating greens and maintaining a healthy immune system.
The research has been undertaken by Dr Gabrielle Belz, Ms Lucie Rankin, and Dr Joanna Groom at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute's Molecular Immunology division. The research has been published in the journal Nature Immunology.
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