Grapes, Blueberries Boost Immunity
Two popular “superfoods” deserve to be even more popular. I’ve been saying it for years. Now scientists at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have published research that adds to the growing mountain of evidence pointing to one conclusion: Plant foods are good for you. Two in particular—grapes and blueberries—stand out, though, say the Pauling researchers.
Investigators screened more than 400 compounds, using a test that looks for changes in important immune system cells. Out of 446 different compounds screened, only two stood out for their ability to boost the activity of certain white blood cells.
These cells form the backbone of the innate immune system, which is also called the body’s first line of defense. This most basic form of immunity employs white blood cells, which shoot first and ask questions later. Resveratrol from grapes—and a similar compound, pterostilbene, from blueberries—supercharged these disease-fighting cells. Even more remarkable, researchers found that in the presence of vitamin D, these plant chemicals had an even more profound effect on immune function. “Our findings demonstrate for the first time that stilbenoid compounds may have the potential to boost the innate immune response...particularly in combination with [vitamin D],” wrote the researchers.
Direct increases of innate immune function in human beings was not proven here, but I think the evidence has been in front of us for years. I’ve seen people recover immune system function after changing to a diet that included significantly more plant foods. This research suggests that grapes and blueberries really can boost your immunity, especially if you’re getting enough vitamin D.
Guo C, Sinnott B, Niu B, Lowry MB, Fantacone ML, Gombart AF. Synergistic induction of human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide gene expression by vitamin D and stilbenoids. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Sep 14. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201300266. [Epub ahead of print]