10 Plant-Based Foods to Boost Your Immune System (With Recipes)
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Eating a varied, balanced diet is vital in supporting your immune health. But if you want to give your immune system a little extra push given the current situation, try to integrate more of these plant-based foods into your meals:
This may come as a surprise, but 80-85% of your immune system lies in your gut (Campbell-McBride, 2010). Research suggests that fermented foods benefit your gut bacteria due to their high amounts of probiotics and thus positively impact your immune system.
Tempeh is fermented soy, which makes it extremely nutritious and protein-rich. Other fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso and coconut kefir.
Tempeh can be cooked and fried just like tofu and tastes delicious when baked.
Many people think that only fruits contain high amounts of Vitamin C. Broccoli beats many fruits with its Vitamin C amount, thus boosting your immune system. Even half a cup of cooked broccoli provides 84% of the recommended daily intake — more than one-half orange contains. It is a true superfood, containing lots of antioxidants and minerals. Don’t like broccoli? Swap it with kale, cauliflower or brussels sprouts. Try my favourite broccoli recipe if you need some convincing.
Commonly known for relieving symptoms of common cold, ginger contains high levels of gingerol, a substance with incredible health benefits. Its properties are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and even prevent the growth of different bacteria and viruses. Drinking fresh ginger is the most common way to ingest it, but there are many ways to use ginger in recipes.
Our ancestors already knew how powerful this plant is and used it regularly to treat infections. Its immune-boosting properties come from a high concentration of sulphur-containing compounds, such as allicin. However, this only appears to be present if garlic is crushed or cut. To get the full benefit, crush your garlic and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before frying.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. If you use it as a spice, make sure to eat it with pepper and oil, otherwise you won’t get the full benefit. Try out his amazing shot recipe using fresh turmeric.
Berries are full of antioxidants called flavonoids, which make them powerful prevention of colds and flu. Researchers found that adults who ate flavonoid-rich foods or took supplements were 33 per cent less likely to catch a cold or respiratory infection than people who did not. Check out this berry smoothie recipe for a yummy immune boost in the morning.
Almonds contain Vitamin E, which benefits the immune system. It is also a key vitamin for healthy skin, nails and hair. A great way to increase your almond intake is to add a scoop of almond butter in your oatmeal or smoothie.
Flaxseeds (and flax oil) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation, increasing airflow and protecting lungs from colds and respiratory infections. Research suggests that the nutrient may even help ward off various strains of the flu.
Make sure to grind them before adding to your food to release the omega 3 as whole flaxseeds can’t be processed by the body.
Just one table spoon in your oats or sprinkled over your salad covers your daily recommended intake.
Mushrooms contain a significant amount of zinc. Studies suggest that zinc may reduce the duration of cold and may reduce the number of upper respiratory infections in children. Any type of mushroom is great, but fried portobello mushroom makes an incredible burger patty.
8. Sweet Potatoes
As your biggest organ, your skin plays a major part in fighting off bacteria and infection. Sweet potatoes contain a great amount of vitamin a, which helps strengthen your skin. Try to leave on the skin (pun intended!), as it contains the most nutrients, for example with this recipe.
9. Green Tea
Green Tea is said to boost antiviral immune function due to its antioxidants and antigens that may help ward off cold and flu (National Academy of Science in 2003).
That’s no surprise, as it is basically vegetables in a cup. To maximise that benefit you should opt for matcha, which is highly concentrated green tea and therefore more effective. Check out this delicous matcha latte recipe.
Oats are an immune booster because of the beta-glucan that boosts your infection-fighting blood cells. Whole grain also contains selenium and zinc, two essential nutrients for warding off infections.
If you’re not into the whole oatmeal-for-breakfast thing, you can can put them in your smoothie or make cookies with them.
More Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Keep in mind that a balanced plant-based diet is just one component of a healthy immune system.
Here’s what you can do to get keep your immune system running smoothly:
- Don’t smoke
- Keep stress to a minimum
- Sleep enough
- Wash your hands regularly
- Go for walks outside
Overall, your immune system is probably already doing an incredible job of defending you against disease-causing microorganisms. If you eat a healthy, varied diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, you should be able to get all the nutrients your immune system needs to do its job.
Try to keep your veggies organic and as fresh as possible by buying from local farmers markets.
What do you do to stay healthy now? Leave a comment below!