What we eat isn’t just about fat and sugar or calories. The compounds—even the natural compounds—in the foods we eat can interact with the bacteria in our guts, and also with our own immune systems.
A new review in Clinical Phytoscience, “Cruciferous vegetables: prototypic anti-inflammatory food components” by Herbert Tilg of the Medical University of Innsbruck looks at the recent literature on this subject, specifically for cruciferous vegetables.
It turns out that cruciferous vegetables are rich in indole derivatives. Indole is an organic compound that features in cellular signaling.
It turns out that cruciferous vegetables—broccoli, cabbage, kale, for example—are rich in indole derivatives. Indole is an organic compound that features in cellular signaling. Specifically in this case, these compounds activate a specific intracellular receptor (the aryl hydrocarbon receptors) in our gut linings. And that by doing so, triggers various beneficial immune responses, including lowering of inflammation. These immune changes also shape the bacteria in the gut microbiota in beneficial ways—these bacteria help metabolize compounds that can be difficult to digest, and a healthy microbiome can also contribute to gastrointestinal—and overall—health.
You can find the entire review here.