Choose Ghee for Immunity, Inflammation and Gut Health

By Christine M. Dionese, NaturalHealth365

Many of my patients grew up thinking butter was a ‘poor’ food choice. So, they’re often happily surprised to learn about the health-enhancing superfood ghee, or clarified butter oil.

Abundant in vitamins and essential fatty acids, ghee has been shown to reduce the devastating effects of inflammatory issues such as chronic arthritis, atherosclerosis, diabetes and digestive disorders.

What is ghee and why should I use it?

Widely used in Indian cuisine, ghee is the fat that remains when the dairy sugar, lactose and proteins, casein and whey are removed. A type of clarified butter, ghee is simmered with milk solids to produce a nutty flavor. And, with a flash point of 485 degrees, cooking with ghee is more ideal than other oils that will begin to oxidize at higher temperatures.

Discover the immune-enhancing benefits of ghee.

Butyric acid, a key short-chain fatty acid contained in ghee helps promote immunity where 80 percent of immune function is created – within the digestive system. Utilized by our beneficial bacteria to help promote secretory immunoglobulin vitality (intestinal wall lining), bifidobacterium in particular receives increased benefit from this short chain fatty acid. In addition, enhanced T-helper cell activity has been observed as one of the many health benefits of ghee consumption.

But, the benefits of butyric acid go beyond improved digestion. Along with increasing insulin sensitivity, butyric acid assists in reducing fatty tissue by activating thermogenesis and metabolism as well as helping manage cholesterol ratios.

Ghee confers even more profound immune effects. Rich in conjugated linoleic acid and vitamin K2, regular consumption of ghee has been observed to improve tissue maintenance and immune health related to inflammation, especially chronic arthritis. It has been theorized that because conjugated linoleic acid and vitamin K2 work together to express anti-viral properties that arthritis responds especially well.


Improve your digestive system by consuming ghee

Because ghee promotes ideal intestinal bacterial ratios, ghee is said to strengthen “agni” in Indian Ayruvedic traditional medicine. “Agni”, or digestive fire, is akin to enzyme-driven metabolic processes that help us eliminate waste and liberate nutrients for maximum absorption in the digestive system.

While it may sound counter-intuitive, because ghee improves bile production, it can actually help reduce fat malabsorption issues; decreasing inflammation throughout the digestive system.


Be sure to purchase the ‘right’ kind of ghee

A superior organic ghee product will have been derived from grass fed cows. This means that ghee is only prepared when cows are naturally grazing from spring into fall when grasses are growing rapidly.

While you won’t need to refrigerate ghee, do keep it from light and heat. I love adding herbs to ghee to accentuate their medicinal qualities and bring rich flavor to my meals. Ghee is ideal for sautéed dishes; herbal preparations or as a ‘conventional’ butter replacement.

So, if you’re looking for a healthy fat to improve immune function, ghee is a wise decision.

Christine M. Dionese L.Ac, MSTOM is an integrative health expert, medical journalist and food writer. She contributes to NaturalHealth365 where this article first appeared.


She’s dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health. Christine practices, writes and speaks on environmental functional medicine, personalized medicine and epigenetics, food science and sustainable living.

References:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3215354
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3766171
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665188

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