Lung Problems? Eat Veggies, Science Says

Lung Problems? Eat Veggies, Science Says

Broccoli and Kale: The Secret Superheroes for Lung Health

Aug. 16, 2023

Vegetables like broccoli and kale have always been celebrated for their high fiber content and nutritional value. But did you know that these leafy greens also possess a hidden power that can help us fight against lung infections? A recent study published in the prestigious journal Nature has unveiled the remarkable benefits of these cruciferous vegetables.

Researchers from London’s Francis Crick Institute delved into the unique compounds found in broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and other cruciferous foods, and discovered their ability to act as secret signals for a protein called aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR). This protein plays a crucial role in guarding vital defense points in our body, such as the gut and lungs.

The consumption of these leafy veggies sends instructions to the AHR protein, which is located in the blood vessels of our lungs. By doing so, they ensure a healthy environment in the lung area, serving as a vital barrier between our internal systems and the outside world. In other words, these greens are not just dietary heroes but also lung health superheroes.

When it comes to the immune system, Andreas Wack, a principal group leader in the Francis Crick Immunoregulation Lab, explains that it is all about maintaining the delicate balance between protection and permeability. The lung, being one of the most crucial organs, needs to be safeguarded while remaining open to certain necessary elements. It’s like walking on a tightrope.

While the effect of the AHR protein on immune cells has been previously documented, this study unveils a new facet of its influence on the cells that make up the lung barrier. To further investigate, the researchers conducted an experiment involving mice infected with the flu virus. The results were captivating — mice fed a diet rich in cruciferous compounds displayed significantly less lung damage compared to their counterparts.

The activation of AHR helped prevent the breakdown of the lung barrier, reducing the leakage of blood into the lung spaces. Moreover, mice with enhanced AHR activity exhibited resistance to weight loss and demonstrated a higher ability to fight off viral and bacterial infections. This breakthrough finding underscores the significance of the cells lining the lungs in protecting against damage following viral infections.

The implications of this study extend beyond the realm of academia. John Tregoning, an infectious disease specialist at Imperial College London, emphasizes that the compound derived from broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables offers promising protection for the lungs against viral damage. The potential impact of these findings is particularly exciting for professionals working in pulmonary and critical care units.

When lung barriers are compromised due to injury or inflammation, patients may require ventilators as a result of fluid leaking into the airways. Dr. Joseph Khabbaza, a critical care and pulmonary medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, highlights the importance of maintaining good health and a nutritious diet as a preventive measure against inflammatory illnesses.

The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the challenges faced by individuals with poor diets and overall health. Therefore, this study suggests that healthy habits, both in terms of lifestyle and nutrition, are crucial not only for staying healthy but also for managing infectious diseases effectively.

In conclusion, the study illuminates the immense yet often overlooked power of vegetables like broccoli and kale in supporting lung health. By feeding our bodies the right nutrients, we can tap into the hidden potential of these leafy greens and enjoy the benefits they offer. So, the next time you sit down for a meal, remember to savor your greens and strengthen your lung defenses with these secret superheroes.

Broccoli and Kale