Researchers were surprised when they found that mice fed a diet without vegetables for just two weeks were missing important blood cells
If you want to boost your chances of keeping your intestinal tract healthy, consider eating more green vegetables.
Scientists at The Babraham Institute in Cambridge found that green vegetables are the source of a chemical signal that is important to the functioning of the immune system. Green vegetables ensure that intra-epithelial lymphocytes (IELs), a specialized type of white blood cell located in the gut and in the skin, function properly.
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Researchers fed healthy mice a purified diet with almost completely no vegetables for two to three weeks. During that time 70 percent of the IELs lining the intestinal tract disappeared. Consequently, the mice were more susceptible to infection and had a more fragile intestinal lining which increased their risk of inflammation -- a surprise to researchers.
"This was surprising, since the new diet contained all other known essential ingredients such as minerals and vitamins," said Marc Veldhoen, senior author of the paper. "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. "