Best Vegan Foods to Boost the Immune System
Are you feeling a bit under the weather in these difficult times of COVID? Do you feel like the pollution in your busy town leaves you more vulnerable to catching a cold or flu? Here is how you could boost your immune system with some of the best vegan foods.
First of all, what is the immune system? Our body has its defense mechanism to fend off all bacteria and viruses. A strong defense mechanism of cells and proteins is required to recognize and defeat a particular microbe that is foreign to the body's immune system. A lack of adequate nutritional supply to the body causes low immunity and hence makes us prone to catching a cold with seasonal changes.
While vegetarians and non-vegetarians have the option of consuming poultry, dairy products, and various fruits and vegetables, there are not many options for vegans. Our immune-boosting food list specifically curated for vegans will change that today.
Signs You Need To Boost Your Immune System
Oftentimes, we blame our regular feelings of low and sickness for the seasonal changes we experience. However, in reality, the seasonal changes have adverse effects on our health solely due to our low immunity. Here are a few ways you can figure out whether your immune system is strong or otherwise.
- Constantly feeling tired, even after a good night’s sleep;
- Having a lot of allergies, or illnesses being triggered by multiple allergens throughout the year;
- You get sick often for prolonged periods;
- Chronic digestive problems;
- Eczema and other dry skin reactions.
Immune Boosting Vegan Foods
It is imperative to keep your diet high in vitamin C, vitamin D, omega fatty acids, zinc, iron, protein, and selenium while consuming anti-inflammatory vegan foods. If you prefer a plant-based diet, these immune-boosting foods are just for you!
Commonly known to keep away vampires, garlic also keeps foreign pathogens from entering your body and causing harm. This is one of the most potent vegan immune-boosting foods. Not one, but multiple studies have prized garlic for its role in the prevention of a common cold or flu. If, in any case, you catch these illnesses, garlic helps hasten your recovery and makes your symptoms less severe.
An advanced study showed how people who consumed garlic had short less-severe colds compared to the ones who ingested a placebo. Consume one portion from the garlic clove early morning right before you have your breakfast, or flavor your meals with a generous amount every day!
2. Ginger and Turmeric
Belonging to the same family, these roots are known for being high in antioxidants and antimicrobial properties. Ginger can be best consumed in its natural raw state or add bite-size slices in your morning or afternoon tea.
Turmeric is widely available in powder form and can be added in curries or to make the world-famous Asian "golden milk." This is a mixture of milk, turmeric, a natural sweetener, and optional spices, such as cardamom. Consume this warm beverage in the morning or before going to sleep every day and witness the improvement in your immune system!
3. Citrus Fruits
Almost all citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C, important in creating healthy collagen, which forms the first barrier for germs and pathogens. Citrus fruits commonly include grapefruit, oranges, limes, lemons, tangerines, and clementines. One small glass of orange juice gives about 70-90 mg of Vitamin C, the daily amount required for strong immunity.
Kiwis are high in antioxidants, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folate, and potassium. These nutrients and vitamins work alongside one another to build healthy body cells and maintain their effective mechanisms to fight infections and foreign pathogens. People with a deficiency of Vitamin K suffer from a compromised immune system. A good serving of fresh fruits daily is enough to provide you with the required amount, which is 90 mg for women and 120 mg for men.
According to a study by the University of Florida, those who consumed shiitake mushrooms every day for four weeks showed a higher immunity than those whose diet did not include mushrooms. This deliciously versatile anti-inflammatory vegan food can be consumed in various ways. The best way is to add them raw and chopped roughly in your daily salad. Other ways, if not equally beneficial but beneficial nevertheless, include making a mushroom soup or sautéing them and adding to one of your favorite meals.
These veggies are rich in Vitamins A, C, and E along with a good amount of antioxidants. Consuming broccoli daily might make you gassy or give you bowel irritation, due to its high fiber content so it is best to eat it twice or thrice a week.
According to nutrition experts, the best way to eat this immune-boosting food is raw or steamed/pan-fried for not more than three minutes. Cooking the broccoli for a longer time with salt destroys the beneficial enzymes in it. You can consume versatile pan-fried broccoli on its own, or other immune-boosting plant-based foods such as pasta, noodles, rice, tortillas, and bread.
6. Dark Leafy Greens
Like with broccoli, it is essential to not overcook your leafy greens as it makes its antioxidants less active. Spinach and kale are not only packed with Vitamin C but also beta-carotene and antioxidants, which makes them ideal immune-boosting foods.
To get adequate nutrition from these green veggies, it is best to incorporate one cup of fresh raw spinach or kale into your diet. You could also add half a cup of steamed or slightly cooked spinach to your vegan pasta.
Swap those unhealthy candies with almonds! Studies show that those who munch on almonds for snacks or incorporate them in their regular diet somehow, such as in smoothies, have higher immunity and are less prone to fall sick to flu or common cold. A half-cup serving of almonds provides the entire quantity of Vitamin E required by your body each day, along with an ample supply of calories.
With no side effects, this anti-inflammatory vegan food is great for digestion, cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, and weight loss. The high amounts of zinc found in oatmeal enable the regular and efficient function of T cells of the body, hence contributing to a strong immune system.
Add fresh berries and vegan yogurt to your breakfast oatmeal or blend it into a smoothie with kale and vegan honey, the options are endless! If you do not like oatmeal or are unable to consume it daily, try switching it up for wholemeal pasta, wheat tortillas, pumpkin seeds, or lentils – they all are of almost the same nutritional value as oatmeal.
While you may be eating the right immune-boosting vegan foods, it is essential to not undermine those with the other foods you consume. Reduce your consumption of foods high in sugars and/or saturated fat, white-flour products, processed foods, and artificially flavored food items as they are pro-inflammatory foods and cancel out the positive effects of the anti-inflammatory vegan foods.
As much as a healthy diet matters to keep your immune system strong and intact, so does your mental health. Stress is known to weaken your immune system; hence, it is important to always prioritize your emotional wellbeing to keep yourself physically fit and healthy.