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Health on a plate, how to prevent cellular degeneration by eating

July 20, 2023
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Health on a plate, how to prevent cellular degeneration by eating

Health is on the plate! Our food choices can influence, for better or for worse, our risk of getting sick and of developing cellular degeneration. We know the function of antioxidants, vitamins and mineral salts, which strengthen our defences, stimulate purification processes and support organ function. Today, however, we are talking about another type of substance that is proving to be beneficial to health, polysaccharides. To do this, we will rely on a very recent review published in Nutrients magazine by a Chinese team (Wang et al, Nutrients, 2023).

What are polysaccharides

Polysaccharides are found naturally in plants, animals and microorganisms. Today we will talk about plant polysaccharides. These polysaccharides are substances that guarantee the structure of the vegetable, and in this case we are talking about cellulose, and its energy reserves, namely starch. More and more scientific studies are dedicating themselves to the study of plant polysaccharides and what has emerged is that these substances have an antioxidant, anticancer, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic action and help support the intestinal microbiota. It is therefore worth investigating the properties of these substances since we introduce them into our body through food, such as when we eat, for example, goji berries, whose polysaccharides are able to increase the strength of the immune system and thus to facilitate the anticancer action naturally implemented by our body. The review we are talking about today focuses on the anticancer action of the polysaccharides that we can take with the diet.

Foods that help prevent tumors

Green tea, wakame seaweed, asparagus, garlic and lettuce are the vegetable sources of polysaccharides that should never be missed. In fact, their polysaccharides, based on studies, have been shown to effectively regulate the immune system and help prevent cellular degeneration and thus tumors. For example, lettuce is a little wonder. In fact, its polysaccharides stimulate the proliferation of macrophages, which are cells of the immune system responsible for eliminating pathogens. Not only that, lettuce polysaccharides also support the phagocytosis action of macrophages, which is the mechanism by which macrophages eliminate possible threats, including diseased cells. And what about garlic… thanks to its polysaccharides it stimulates the release of nitric oxide by macrophages. Nitric oxide inhibits tumor growth and helps induce apoptosis, which is the programmed death of diseased cells. But there are also other plant sources of polysaccharides to keep in mind when it comes to strengthening the body in the fight against tumors. These vegetable sources are plants that have always been used for medicinal purposes, such as goji, which stimulates the action of macrophages and counteracts the damage caused by free radicals inside diseased cells. But Panax ginseng and astragalus are also helpful in the prevention of tumors thanks to the precious action of their polysaccharides. As regards the mechanism of action, it is believed that plant polysaccharides act on the intestinal microbiota, reinforcing it. In fact, these substances are not easily digested and assimilated by the body but this really does not mean that they are useless! On the contrary, polysaccharides represent nourishment for the good bacteria of the intestinal microbiota, which proliferate and produce short-chain fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory substances. When inflammation is kept at bay, the immune system also works better, which can effectively deal with the threats that arise to our health.


Today we discovered one more reason not to miss out on garlic, asparagus, goji berries, green tea, seaweed and lettuce. The polysaccharides of these foods and drinks are in fact useful for protecting the intestinal microbiota, reinforcing our natural defenses and preventing or counteracting cellular degeneration. Indeed, it is believed that polysaccharides may also represent possible future treatments against tumors, to be combined with traditional medicine, being also well tolerated and without side effects. While waiting for science to take its course, a good choice is certainly to include these foods in your daily diet to put your body in the best conditions to deal with any threat.

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