If you’re not currently getting enough greens in your diet—and about 91 percent of Americans don’t eat the recommended five-to-nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables, including green ones—then it’s time to.
For starters, greens have a strong alkalinizing effect on the body, and that’s highly significant. Our modern diet is heavy on the acidic side due to processed grains, conventional meats, sugars and unhealthy fats—which lead to the body being more acidic. When the body’s more acidic, however, it directly and unhealthily affects the blood and bodily tissues, including the cells of the heart, blood, brain, nerves, muscles, bones, skin and hair. And when your cells—the building blocks of who we are—are unhealthy, then you’re inviting disastrous health consequences. The truth is that the body’s trillions of cells prefer a slightly alkaline state—and green foods are alkalinizing foods your body (including your cells) will love and respond favorably to.
As for additional cellular benefits related to immunity and digestive health, greens are superstars. In a study published in the online journal Cell, researchers noted a connection between certain elements found in green veggies and healthy immune system function. They discovered that compounds in green veggies interact positively with immune cells of the gut. Specifically, those gut immune cells, called intraepithelial lymphocytes, or IELs, are protected by and increase numerically via green vegetables.
So, why are IELs important? IELs are white blood cells found in large amounts in the gastrointestinal tract, where they release cytokines to destroy target cells that have become infected by unwanted invaders. Since the gastrointestinal tract is a main thoroughfare that unhealthy intruders travel to enter the body, a strong army of IELs can be highly beneficial for overall health—especially immune health originating from the gut, where over 80 percent of immune cells are housed. Interestingly, when the scientists removed green veggies from the test animals for two or three weeks, 70 to 80 percent of the protective IEL cells disappeared, leaving the subjects vulnerable to unwanted invader attacks.
If you ask me, that alone is motivation enough to eat your greens.
Speaking of greens. . . broccoli is a “superfood star.” It’s rich in sulforaphane, an antioxidant linked with a reduced risk of a number of cancers. In fact, the phytonutrients in broccoli can help to detox environmental carcinogens. Likewise, broccoli also contains anti-inflammatory properties—and healthy inflammation levels are an important factor in reducing the risk of disease.
And know this: not all servings of veggies, including greens, weigh in the same nutritionally. The truth is that there are some foods that are just plain ol' food. Then there are foods classified as “superfoods,” including several green foods, due to their tremendous content of phytonutrients and chlorophyll, which supports hemoglobin production, oxygenation to cells, a healthy digestive system as well as a healthy liver and blood.
Some green superfoods worthy of mention include cereal grasses and micro-algae. Cereal grasses are the young green plants of cereal grain, and all cereal grasses, including the green leaves of wheat, barley, rye, oat and kamut, are nutrient-dense foods. They are high in chlorophyll, beta-carotene, vitamins C and E and are a good plant source of protein.
Likewise, chlorella and spirulina are two common micro-algae. These green superfoods provide chlorophyll, protein, all of the B vitamins, vitamins C and E, amino acids and trace minerals. Additionally, the green juices of these green superfoods contain chlorophyll, enzymes, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, provitamin A, B-complex vitamins, vitamins C, E and K as well as other nutrients. One of the great advantages of chlorophyll-rich juices is their cleansing effect on the bowel and other elimination systems, which results in a cleansing of the blood, lymph, and intracellular fluid.
One last thing as we talk about green-powered health: be sure your greens are raw and organic because it really doesn't do a lot of good to eat those greens if they’re grown with harmful toxins, with GMOs or by other unhealthy means.