Only about one-quarter of American adults eat three or more servings of vegetables a day. If you are in the majority who does not, you are missing out on major benefits, as consuming fresh vegetables is one of the key cornerstones to optimal health.
Although I am convinced virtually everyone would benefit from some animal protein in their diet, I firmly believe we all need to eat large amounts of fresh, high-quality vegetables every day to achieve high-level health. Some of us need far more than others.
Most vegetables are not very calorie dense and as a result they probably should constitute the bulk of your diet by volume. Even though my diet is 70 percent fat by calories, if you were to spread out all the food I eat in a day, the largest volume of food would be vegetables.
There is little that compares to the nutritional value of organic, raw vegetables, and according to new research, eating your greens may be even more important than previously imagined.
The Importance of Eating Your GreensResearchers at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute's Molecular Immunology division have discovered that a gene, called T-bet, which is essential for producing critical immune cells in your gut, responds to the food you eat-specifically leafy green vegetables. According to the press release:
"The immune cells, named innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), are found in the lining of the digestive system and protect the body from 'bad' bacteria in the intestine.
They are also believed to play an important role in controlling food allergies, inflammatory diseases and obesity, and may even prevent the development of bowel cancers.
... [T]he research team revealed T-bet was essential for generating a subset of ILCs which is a newly discovered cell type that protects the body against infections entering through the digestive system.
'In this study, we discovered that T-bet is the key gene that instructs precursor cells to develop into ILCs, which it does in response to signals in the food we eat and to bacteria in the gut,' Dr Belz said. 'ILCs are essential for immune surveillance of the digestive system and this is the first time that we have identified a gene responsible for the production of ILCs.'"