These vegetables could benefit your lung health

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Everyone has heard the advice to eat their vegetables, especially greens like broccoli and cauliflower. It turns out; there’s even more to this advice than we thought.

Researchers have found that these veggies can help strengthen our lungs, which can keep us safe from illnesses like the flu.

Veggies: Nature’s Lung Protectors

Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute looked at how certain vegetables influence our health.

They found that veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage contain special ingredients that help strengthen the protective barriers in our lungs.

These barriers are essential; they allow the oxygen we breathe to enter our bodies while keeping out harmful things like pollution, viruses, and bacteria.

Imagine your lungs as a well-guarded fortress. The walls of this fortress are made of two layers: one inside (called endothelial cells) and one outside (called epithelial cells).

Together, they allow the right things to enter and keep the harmful things out. But as with any barrier, sometimes there can be leaks, especially when we’re unwell.

This research shows that the special ingredients in these vegetables help patch up any leaks and keep the walls of our lung fortress strong.

Experiments with Mice: What Did They Show?

The scientists used mice in their experiments because, in many ways, their bodies work similarly to ours. Here’s what they found:

Veggies Repair Damage: When some of the mice got the flu, their lung barriers got damaged, causing blood to leak into their lungs.

But the mice that had been eating more of these veggies showed less damage. It’s like having a better repair crew for the walls of our lung fortress because of these veggies.

Better Defense Against Illness: The veggies not only helped repair the damage but also seemed to give the mice a better shield against getting more sick.

Mice that had more of these veggies in their diet were better at fighting off infections. They didn’t lose as much weight (a sign they were feeling better) and even fought off additional illnesses better.

Less Food, More Damage: Interestingly, when mice got sick, they didn’t feel like eating as much. And when they ate less of these veggies, their lung barriers got more damaged.

This shows how important it is to keep eating our greens, especially when we’re feeling under the weather.

Why Veggies Matter: A Deeper Dive

The protective benefits of these veggies come from a protein called AHR. Think of AHR as a security guard for our lung fortress.

When we eat these veggies, they give a boost to this security guard, making him more alert and active. This extra boost helps keep our lung barriers strong and less leaky, even when we’re sick.

This idea of food directly influencing our health isn’t new. But this research sheds light on how specific veggies can play a crucial role in protecting our lungs.

The veggies act like a special fuel, supercharging the AHR security guard in our bodies.

And it’s not just the lungs that benefit. Some other scientists have found that similar things happen in our stomachs.

Eating the right foods can help protect the barriers in our gut, keeping our digestion smooth and our bodies healthy.

What Experts are Saying

Andreas Wack, one of the leading researchers in this study, explained that our diet plays a big role in our health, especially when we’re sick.

“If we don’t eat right, our bodies can’t fight off illnesses as effectively,” he says. “So, keep eating those greens, especially when you’re feeling a bit under the weather.”

Jack Major, another researcher, added that while this study was mainly about the flu, other research shows that eating veggies can help against other illnesses too, like COVID-19.

“It’s exciting to think about how the right foods can give our bodies the tools they need to stay healthy,” he says.


Remember when your parents told you to eat your broccoli? They were right all along! These veggies not only keep us healthy but also give our lungs a special boost to fight off illnesses.

So the next time you’re filling up your plate, make sure to add an extra serving of greens. Your lungs will thank you!

The study was published in Nature.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about plant nutrients that could help reduce high blood pressure, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.