Veggies & Fruit

Veggie+superhero.jpg

Pow! Pow! Powerful!

 

The fastest way to improve the nutrient content of your diet is to eat more vegetables—probably a lot more vegetables. Aim for ten servings a day. Seems a lot if your idea of a vegetable serving is a slice of lettuce and tomato on a burger (no, ketchup doesn’t count). A serving is roughly what you can hold in your hand, so it really isn’t that hard to achieve. A serving of leafy greens is two handfuls. If you embrace green smoothies you will knock out several of these servings in one swoop. I will give you some good ideas in the meal plans for increasing your veggies without even noticing.

Veggies are loaded with nutrients that strengthen blood vessels and connective tissues and that boost the immune system, all of which is great for your scar. One of these super nutrients is vitamin C, which is a co-factor for collagen synthesis and a primary antioxidant. Antioxidants protect the cells by “loaning” an electron to chemicals called free radicals, which would otherwise steal electrons from a healthy cell, causing damage.

A recent study showed vitamin C is rapidly consumed by the body post-wounding. The researchers found that vitamin C supplementation suppressed inflammation quickly while exciting the expression of self-renewal genes. Supplementation also promoted the proliferation of fibroblasts, the specialized cells that make up a scar [1].

Fruits high in vitamin C include all citrus, strawberries, black currants, kiwi, peaches, papayas, mangos, goji berries, guavas, and lychees. Vegetables high in vitamin C include spring greens, spinach, parsley, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, and mange tout peas (snow or snap peas).

Quercetin is a well-researched antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. A study released in early 2017 showed that quercetin reduced breast cancer cell viability in a time and dose dependent manner, meaning it increased cancer cell apoptosis (cell death) as well as inhibiting the cell cycle progression. The scientists conducting the study were looking for an effective and less toxic alternative to chemotherapy and radiotherapy [2].

We are particularly interested in its anti-inflammatory action to support post-operative recovery, but I’m not about to knock its cancer killing properties. Quercetin is found in apples, red onions, green tea, broccoli, leafy greens, tomatoes, and berries.

Carotenoids, converted by the body into vitamin A, are essential for wound healing and proper immune function. A study in immunonutrition found that a deficiency in Vitamin A impairs wound healing. It has multiple positive effects on wounds, including collagen cross-linking, giving the wound strength, as well as increasing the monocytes and macrophages in the early inflammatory phase [3].

Food sources high in carotenoids are usually red, orange, or yellow in color and include carrots, apricots, winter squash, mangos, plums, tomatoes, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes.

There can be some contention over the best way to eat your veggies: raw or cooked. Some veggies retain their nutrients better when raw, whereas others, like carrots and tomatoes, dramatically increase in nutrients when cooked as the heat releases antioxidants in the fiber. Steaming vegetables seems to be the best way to retain nutrients when cooking, followed by roasting. I would say the most important part is to simply eat more of them.

Endnotes:

[1] B. M. Mohammed, B. J. Fisher, D. Kraskauskas, S. Ward, J. S. Wayne,
D. F. Brophy, A. A. Fowler, D. R. Yager, R. Natarajan, “Vitamin C
promotes wound healing through novel pleiotropic mechanisms,”
International Wound Journal 13, no. 4 (August 2 20, 2015): 572–84, doi:
10.1111/iwj.12484.


[2] Lich Thi Nguyen, Yeon-Hee Lee, Ashish Ranjan Sharma, Jong-Bong
Park, Supriya Jagga, Garima Sharma, Sang-Soo Lee, Ju-Suk Nam,
“Quercetin induces apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in triple-negative
breast cancer cells through modulation of Foxo3a activity,” The
Korean Journal of Physiology & Pharmacology 21(2) (March 2017): 205-
213, doi: 10.4196/kjpp.2017.21.2.205


[3] Oliver Chow and Adrian Barbul, “Immunonutrition: Role in Wound
Healing and Tissue Regeneration,” Advances in Wound Care 3(1)
(January 2014): 46-53, doi: 10.1089/wound.2012.0415