September 3, 2014

Veg diet boosts your immune system

By Hakeem Jimo

The better our immune system works, the better for us. Our body is designed to fight off diseases and infections caused by viruses and bacteria. Our immune system does not even surrender to cancer – and also not Ebola as written at this column space last week.

All these unwanted health hazards are part of the biological system we live in. So we cannot avoid them. In spite of our best efforts, for example cancer cells will arise in the body from time to time. Luckily, we have white blood cells that roam our bloodstreams looking for these troublemakers.

Some of them, called natural killer cells, seek out and destroy cancer cells and bacteria. They engulf and destroy aberrant cells before they can cause damage. The function of natural killer cells and other white blood cells is improved by as little as 30 milligrams of beta-carotene per day, the amount in two large carrots.


Although beta-carotene is safe, even in fairly substantial amounts, the best way to get beta-carotene is not in processed form or tablets, but in natural carrots, spinach, kale. Beta-carotene is only one of perhaps two dozen related substances called carotenoids which occur naturally in vegetables and fruits, and which have varying degrees of biological activity.


Fats impair immunity, and cutting fat out of the diet helps strengthen the immune defenses against cells that turn cancerous. Researchers in the US tested the effect of low-fat diets on immunity. They put healthy volunteers on a diet that limited fat content to 20 percent, reducing all fats and oils—not just saturated or unsaturated fats. Three months later, the researchers took blood samples from the volunteers and examined their natural killer cells. The natural killer cell activity was greatly improved.

It should come as no surprise that vegetarians have stronger immune systems than do meat-eaters. Studies of white blood cell samples from vegetarians have shown them to have more than double the cancer cell-destroying ability of their non-vegetarian counterparts. The immune-boosting power of vegetarian diets is partly due to their vitamin content, their low fat content, and perhaps other contributors, such as reduced exposure to toxic chemicals and animal proteins.