Eating fruits, vegetables provides needed protection

Published 9:10 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

By Staff
Carolyn Bivins- Extension agent
Eat your fruits and vegetables. How many times have we been offered this advice, whether sought or unsought, by parents, teachers and other authority figures?
Yet, as studies have shown and continue to show, they were right - perhaps right beyond their wildest dreams.
Medical and nutritional researchers have known for a long time that an ample consumption of fruits and vegetables likely reduces the risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer, though they haven't entirely accounted for the reason behind it.
But with each study comes even more insight, and as researchers are realizing, they have only scratched the surface in understanding how fruit and vegetable consumption benefits all of us.
Phytochemicals in these fruits and vegetables also appear to provide a hefty boost for our immune systems.
The study, conducted by researchers at Cambridge University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine revealed that individuals who ate less than one piece of fruit a week faced a risk of shingles three times higher than those who ate more than three portions a day.
The study also drove home another important point about fruit and vegetable consumption often lost on those of us who think they can get by on vitamins instead. Researchers determined the safeguard against shingles was derived from whole-fruit consumption rather than from individual nutrients associated with these fruits.
Whatever the case, the study bolsters a case that Keith and other nutritionists have made for a long time: that eating fruits and vegetables not only safeguards against cancer but also provides short-term benefits to our immune systems.
Yet another study has revealed the benefits of quercetin, a naturally occurring substance associated with fruits and vegetables.
Quercetin is a close chemical relative of resveratrol, which some researchers consider a life-enhancing substance. Quercetin is amply present in tea but also in broccoli and other fruits and vegetables.
The results of a study published by the American Physiological Society show that mice given quercetin were substantially less prone to contracting the flu.
The study also found that stressful exercise increased the risk of flu, though quercetin cancelled out this negative effect - a finding similar to what has been revealed in human studies.
Even if you're not worried about your long-term risk of chronic disease, he says there is still every reason to consume ample amounts of fruits and vegetables to avoid the short-term risks - viral infections such as the shingles and the flu.
Contact our office for information concerning nutritional values as well as preserving fruits andvegetables.

Email newsletter signup