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Innate lymphoid cells (ILC) are the immune-boosting cells that line the digestive tract and are responsible for protecting the body from allowing “bad” bacteria to proliferate.
These lymph cells are also believed to play an important role in controlling food hypersensitivities, unwanted weight gain, internal swelling and the unhealthy proliferation of cells in the gut.
A new study in the journal Nature Immunology measured the effect of leafy greens on the innate lymphoid cells of the digestive tract. The lead researchers, Doctors Belz, Rankin, and Groom discovered that the gene (t-bet) is essential for producing the innate lymphoid cells of the digestive tract. They also found that this gene is responsive to the foods we eat.
They found that the proteins in leafy greens and cruciferous veggies interact with the (t-bet) gene receptors on the surface of the cells. The veggies protein turns on the (t-bet) genes and may play a critical role in producing the innate lymphoid cells that line the entire digestive system and make up much of the body’s immune response.
We have all heard for years that green veggies are alkaline and therefore increase lymphatic flow. This new research is giving us a glimpse into how the immune and lymph boost might actually work.
Surprisingly, this research is not pointing to the fiber or alkalinity of the green veggies, it is pointing to the not-so-abundant proteins in our veggies. Who knew!?!