It’s that time of year when it seems like everyone is sniffling and sneezing. A number of factors can influence the strength of your immune system, including diet, exercise, and stress. Today I want to focus on my 5 favorite foods that boost immunity.
Organosulfurs in garlic have been shown to enhance the immune system, clean up cellular damage, and support our natural detoxification system. Garlic has also demonstrated antibacterial and antiviral effects.
Try: Rainbow Quinoa Salad
Mushrooms have been shown to support our immune system (macrophages and natural killer cells). There source of beta-glucans, which have been shown to enhance the immune system and have been used medicinally in China for thousands of years.
Because they contain fiber, oats are also a source of prebiotics (which acts as food for healthy probiotics in our guts). When we have more probiotics thriving inside of us, they push out harmful pathogens that cause disease. Oats are also another source of immune-boosting beta-glucans and contain fiber that supports our natural detoxification system.
Try: Grateful Granola
4. Fermented Foods
While oats provide food for our healthy bacteria, fermented foods provide the bacteria themselves. We often hear about yogurt as a source of probiotics but its relatively simple to include probiotic food sources on a completely plant-based diet. My favorites are tempeh, miso, and kombucha tea but sauerkraut and kimchi are also tasty options. (I love this fermentation resource by McKel Hill at Nutrition Stripped).
Try: Jamaican Jerk Tempeh
5. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sesame, cashews, almonds) are a great way for anyone following a plant-based diet. Zinc is especially important during cold and flu season, as it’s a component of antioxidants and hormones related to immunity. Zinc is also involved with regulating the immune system and has also been shown to decrease inflammation
These foods can be combined with an overall balanced whole foods diet in order to lessen the odds that you get sick this winter. You’ll further improve your odds if you get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and manage stress (try breathing exercises or yoga).
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