8 Best Foods For Your Spleen
Your organs each have their own jobs to do to keep you healthy. The lungs focus on oxygen intake, the heart circulates the blood, and the liver detoxifies the body. While each organ is vital in its own way, many people are unaware of some of the body’s lesser-known organs and their functions.
For example, we don’t often hear about spleen health and why it’s crucial. Some people may not even know what the spleen does! If that’s you, read on to learn more about the spleen, its importance, and what you can eat to help it function as it should.
What does the spleen do?
The spleen is an avocado-sized organ that sits within your rib cage on the left side of your body. It plays a role in immune health and is a part of the lymphatic system. The spleen takes on many functions, such as:
- Storing blood
- Filtering blood so that old or damaged blood cells can be removed
- Creating white blood cells and antibodies so that the body is prepared to fight off infections
- Ensuring a proper balance of fluid in the body
There are different parts of the spleen, each with its own respective tasks. The white pulp part of the organ works as part of the immune system to help produce the white blood cells mentioned above so that they can create antibodies. The red pulp is the area that acts as the filter, removing waste from the blood. This area of the spleen can also destroy pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria.
When the spleen functions as it should, it aids in bodily processes that keep you healthy. When it doesn’t, however, it can cause various health issues.
How do you strengthen your spleen?
You want to maintain a healthy lifestyle to care for your spleen health. This involves exercising regularly, ensuring that you drink enough water each day, and keeping your weight in the healthy range. Putting a heavy focus on diet is vital to keeping the spleen healthy. But what foods should you add to your diet for spleen health?
What are the best foods for a healthy spleen?
The spleen loves whole foods that are balanced and nutritious, so you have many different foods to choose from when it comes to keeping and encouraging this organ's health. If you want your spleen to be healthy, consider adding the following foods to your diet.
1. Lean proteins
Lean proteins, such as poultry and some types of beef, can benefit the spleen's overall health because of their complete protein profile. Research has shown that a protein deficiency can alter how the cells in the spleen function, thus altering how it performs.
Fish is another type of lean protein that can aid in spleen health. However, the omega-3s found in fish are the real star. Omega-3s ensure that the spleen and bone marrow can produce the essential immune cells the body needs to ward off disease and infection.
Image by CA Creative on Unsplash: How can I heal my spleen naturally?
3. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits provide the body with many nutrients, including vitamin C, folate, and antioxidants. Because of their nutritional profile, citrus fruits can help spleen health by reducing inflammation and encouraging the proper production of immune system cells. A compound in citrus fruits known as citrus pectin can also regulate the number of cytokines in the spleen, thus helping to ensure there are neither too few nor too many inflammatory proteins flowing around in the body.
4. Berries and cherries
Berries and cherries contain high levels of antioxidants and plant compounds that play a role in lowering whole-body inflammation. Antioxidants also decrease the risk of oxidative stress – a phenomenon that can wreak havoc on the entire body, including the spleen. If the spleen falls victim to oxidative stress, it can become inflamed and fail to work correctly.
5. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are high in selenium, a trace mineral that the body uses to make DNA, protect cells from damage, and increase proper thyroid and metabolic health. Research has shown that a lack of selenium can cause the spleen to become inflamed. When that happens, the entire immune system is unable to perform as it should.
Image by Natalie Grainger on Unsplash: What are the best foods to boost your spleen function?
While an apple a day may not always keep the doctor away, it can aid in the health of the spleen! This is because apples contain several essential nutrients such as pectin. Research has found that pectin found in apples can upregulate levels of a specific cytokine known as IFN-γ in the spleen. These cytokines help protect the body from cancer.
7. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes contain high amounts of vitamin A, an essential nutrient the body uses for immune health. By getting enough vitamin A, you can encourage the entire immune system, including the spleen, to function properly.
Studies have investigated how vitamin A and immunity work together and found that deficiency in this nutrient can lead to a change in dendritic cells found in the spleen. Dendritic cells aid in keeping the body healthy by pointing out where antigens are to other immune cells. When these cells are altered, they leave the body open to worsened infections.
Oats contain healthy fiber and other nutrients the body uses for various actions. When it comes to immunity and spleen health, eating oats can help improve the activity of a chemical compound known as glutathione disulfide in the spleen. The compound is one of the primary antioxidants in the body and helps to decrease inflammation and reduce the risk of oxidative stress, both of which can harm how well the immune system functions.
Your spleen is a crucial part of your overall immunity, and if you want it to function correctly, you must feed it well. So get cooking with some of the ingredients mentioned above!
Featured image by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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