It’s not for no reason that we hear parents telling their kids to eat leafy greens as it offers multiple health benefits. Now scientists have found yet another reason to include sprouts and leafy greens in our routine diet. In addition to being the storehouse of nutritional elements like minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients, etc. these leafy greens are extremely beneficial for our stomachs as well.
The scientists discovered an unusual molecule of sugar in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and other leafy greens that feed the ‘good’ bacteria in our stomachs, thereby boosting our gut health. The more the numbers of good bacteria in the body, the stronger will be the chances of thrusting out the harmful bacteria.
Sulfoquinovose (SQ) is a sugar that promotes the growth of good bacteria in the stomach, which in turn occupy all the gut space thereby leaving no space for the nasty bacteria that lead to stomach aches and other gut-related diseases. This newly discovered sugar present in the green leafy vegetables is manufactured by the plants during the process of photosynthesis. Copious in nature, the SQ is believed to be unusual as it is the only sugar which comprises sulphur.
Dr. Ethan Goddard-Borger, the senior author at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Parkville, Australia said, “Every time we eat leafy green vegetables we consume significant amounts of SQ sugars, which are used as an energy source by good gut bacteria.” Also, some important and good strains of Escherichia coli (E-coli) and other helpful gut bacteria use SQ to derive sulphur and carbon.
The E. coli offers a protective layer to avoid the growth and colonization of nasty bacteria as the healthy bugs take up all the habitable space.
The study authors further said that sulphur is important for boosting the protein growth, the highly crucial components of all living organisms and SQ is the only sugar molecule which comprises sulphur. They went on to explain that when bacteria absorb the molecule, sulphur releases into the space where it re-enters the sulphur cycle (transmission of sulphur in different forms through nature) to be reused by other living organisms.
The recent research may have resolved a 50-year old mystery that researchers have been trying to understand, which is how sulphur, a vital element of life on this planet earth, is recycled and used by living organisms.
The revelation, however, paves the way for creating a completely new class of antibiotics.
The study was published in the Nature Chemical Biology Journal.