Our Gut and Skin – Protecting us Inside and Out

Seems lately we’ve been hearing a lot – (and it’s a good thing, I’m not complaining!) about our skin. About the skin being the largest organ of our bodies, and how what we put on our skin winds up in our bloodstream in very short order…

This is a big reason I’m a fan of an all organic all natural personal care regimen as much as I am of all organic all natural foods. I don’t think it makes much sense to put lovely clean food in our bodies and then slather ourselves with petroleum products. It’s one of those “DOH!” things, as my kids might say.

So I was pretty stunned, and frankly, blown away, when I saw this video from the folks over at NutritionFacts.org that told me, are you ready for this?

“Our greatest exposure to the environment, our body’s greatest interface with the outside world is not through our skin, but through the lining of our gut which covers thousands of square feet. And in our intestine all that separates us from the outside world is a single layer of cells 50 millionth of a meter thick. The distance between the outside world and our bloodstream is less than a sheet of paper.”

Well, that certainly got my attention. But what really got me excited as I watched this video was their explanation of how our gut works. How we literally have these defender cells whose job it is to protect our sterile core which is made so vulnerable by this thin layer of gut lining, and keep us safe and healthy. After all, the gut has to allow liquids and nutrients in, otherwise we starve. So how does it do this while protecting us from ‘foreign invaders’ which could potentially harm us at the same time?

The answer is something science calls ‘Intraepithelial Lymphocytes’ and what they do is, frankly, fantastic. First, they repair and restore any breaks or damage to the intestinal lining, and second, they provide ‘a front line defense against intestinal pathogens’.

They are covered with little tiny receptors, called AH Receptors. These AH receptors are like little tiny locks. So of course, the researchers and scientists have been looking for decades to figure out what key turns that lock and switches ON our immunity and defense systems in the intestines.

Enter Broccoli …

And this is where broccoli comes in.

Amazing as it may sound, it has now been discovered that it is the cruciferous vegetables that are the key that fits in the lock of the AH receptors and switches on our intestinal defense systems and intestinal lining repair and maintenance workers.

If this is not the best reason ever to dive into your favorite cruciferous vegetables then I cannot think what could possibly be. Especially in light of all the amazingly delicious and wonderful choices you have!

Cruciferous Vegetables

“Which are the cruciferous vegetables?” You ask.

Allow me to refresh your memory, and fill your mind with delicious possibilities:

  • Bok Choi
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoli Raab
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Calabrese
  • Cauliflower
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Collards
  • Cress
  • Daikon
  • Horseradish
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mustard
  • Rapini
  • Radish
  • Rutabaga
  • Swede
  • Tatsoi
  • Turnip
  • Wasabi
  • Watercress

Resources:

Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptors (AH Receptors) – Wikipedia

NutritionFacts.org