Science about kale and the immune system

Thanks to Monica Cassani at Beyond Meds (see my reblog a few minutes ago) I’ve just looked up the science that’s mentioned in the video she links to, about how kale is good for the immune system. It’s a 2011 paper by Nishi et al. Here it is.

This is peer reviewed science, so it deserves to be taken seriously, but it’s not actually about nutrition. It’s about pouring kale extracts and spinach extracts onto white blood cells from humans and mice. The cells were then found to produce antibodies. [Edit] I think they also injected kale extract into lab mice for 2 weeks – they say the mice ‘had been administered’ with the kale extract.

It isn’t about people eating kale and becoming healthier. That probably does happen – I haven’t done a literature review about it, but that’s what I’d expect to find. In fact, the PubMed page I’ve just linked to does list several ‘related citations’ which would be a good place to start reading for more information.

But I’m not impressed by the medical doctor, Michael Greger, who presents that video (see my reblog a few minutes ago) claiming that the Nishi et al paper shows why kale is good food. I’m also not impressed by Nishi et al’s concluding remark, ‘These findings provide another beneficial aspect of kale as a health-promoting foodstuff.’ This particular experiment doesn’t have nearly enough power to support that conclusion.

Call me conservative? Yes I am. Science is like digging with a teaspoon. If you want robust science, that’s what you have to do. If you want headlines, be a politician.

Oh yes and it’s still true: if you want to be healthy, eat vegetables.

About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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