Building our immunity is important as we fight the COVID-19 virus. “The wall of the gut houses the largest collection of the cells that make up the immune system, a fact that comes as a surprise to most people,” says Dan Winer, who studies the role of the immune system in aging and chronic metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease at the Buck Institute. “While conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease are directly linked to immune responses in the gut, most people don’t understand how important the gut is to overall health. The immune system in the gut traffics throughout the body. If your gut is chronically inflamed, you’re asking for all kinds of health problems.”
Tackling gut inflammation is where the veggies come in – especially cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. “When it comes to diet, it’s not just about avoiding the bad stuff like processed foods, sugar and saturated fat,” Winer says. “Instead it’s about feeding ourselves foods that can improve gut integrity and overall health.” In other words, it’s an opportunity to reframe food choices from a chore to a treat, at least for the gut, to help build our immunity.
Broccoli has a reputation as a superfood. It is low in calories but contains a wealth of nutrients and antioxidants that support many aspects of human health. It is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Antioxidants can help prevent the development of various conditions. Also a good source of dietary fiber it can help promote regularity, prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract, and lower the risk of colon cancer.
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Cauliflower may be one of the few non-colorful vegetables to have as many or more nutrient benefits as its richly-colored cousins. Cauliflower has a rich assortment of vitamins and minerals and well as phytonutrients and antioxidants that can inhibit the growth of free radicals.
Cauliflower is high in fiber and can promote weight loss and colon health. In addition, the fiber and other substances in cauliflower can protect the lining of the stomach and encourage the growth of healthy bacteria. In addition, cauliflower is a watery vegetable that hydrates the body. It is a great replacement for high carbohydrate foods such as rice and can be a great basis for gluten-free tortillas and pizza crusts.
Despite its impressive nutrient content, cabbage is often overlooked. While it may look a lot like lettuce, it actually belongs to the Brassica genus of vegetables, which includes broccoli, cauliflower and kale. It comes in a variety of shapes and colors, including red, purple, white and green, and its leaves can be either crinkled or smooth.
This crunchy vegetable is full of gut-friendly insoluble fiber, a type of carbohydrate that can’t be broken down in the intestines. Insoluble fiber helps keep the digestive system healthy by adding bulk to stools and promoting regular bowel movements.
What’s more, it’s rich in soluble fiber, which has been shown to increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This is because fiber is the main fuel source for friendly species like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli.
These are just a few of this vegetable family. With so many potential health benefits, it is easy to see why they deserve some time in the spotlight and some room on your plate, all to help build immunity.