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16 Foods to Help Support Your Immune System

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16 Foods to Help Support Your Immune System

Much like abs, immune system support starts in the kitchen. Consider the power of plants as an antioxidant and vitamin-rich way to support your immune system.

 

For most of us, wellness is at top of mind. We know our immune system is our body’s natural defense system and that it does a great job, as long as we give it the tools it needs to do so.[1] Much like abs, immune system support starts in the kitchen. Consider the power of plants to support your immune system. A whole-food, plant-based diet that is a source of B complex vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc and selenium can offer you the support you’re looking for.

Why Do These Vitamins and Minerals Matter?

  • Vitamin C is a vital antioxidant that helps supports the immune system.
  • Vitamin A supports white blood cell production.
  • B Complex vitamins are essential for cell function. (more on B vitamins here).
  • Zinc is involved in multiple aspects of the immune system.
  • Selenium is an antioxidant that helps neutralizes free radicals.

 

Where Do I Find These Vitamins and Minerals?

You’ll find B complex vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc and selenium in many plant-based foods. We know that eating a whole foods, plant-based diet contains an average of 64-times the amount of immune-supporting  antioxidants compared to a diet that includes meat and dairy [2] (check out this story on how to get started with a plant-based diet).

 

Our top six antioxidant-rich foods are:

Citrus fruit: Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which is a key nutrient for your immune system function.[3]

Blueberries: Blueberries contain flavonoids—a type of antioxidant that can help reduce oxidative stress to cells.[4]

Brassica Vegetables (kale, cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts): These cruciferous vegetables are full of vitamins A, C, E, and the antioxidant glutathione as well as plenty of fibre.

Sweet potatoes: Specifically, purple ones are rich in antioxidant vitamins A and C which can help protect from oxidative stress. Like carrots, these are also packed with beta-carotene, which in your body that turns into vitamin A.[5]

Spinach: Is an extremely nutritious vegetable. It’s rich in core nutrients and phytochemicals. Major micronutrients are vitamins A, C, K and folate as well as minerals calcium, iron, and potassium, and provides fibre. A number of studies have shown spinach to have strong antioxidant activity.[6]

Dark chocolate:  The darker the chocolate, the higher levels of flavonoids it contains, which are a class of antioxidants that can protect our cells from oxidative stress.[7]

 

Got Those Foods Covered? Try These Superfoods:

Brazil Nuts: These selenium-rich South American nuts are a good source of healthful fats, protein, and fiber. Selenium is an important antioxidant and antioxidants help support the immune system.

Pumpkin Seeds: These seeds, as well as delicious pumpkin seed oil, are a great source of magnesium. They are also rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

Garlic: has therapeutic values, anti-inflammatory properties, and can help support the immune system by stimulating certain cell types.[8]

Ginger: Has power anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects—which are key factors in our immune response.[9]

Turmeric: This root spice has long been recognized for its medicinal properties. It has high concentrations of curcumin, which is a great antioxidant.[10]

Probiotics:  These live microorganisms, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to you. Probiotics can help by supporting the healthy bacteria in your gut if taken in adequate amounts. Preliminary research suggests they can help support your gastrointestinal tract.[11]

Matcha: is a pure, powdered form of antioxidant-rich green tea (which offers a more potent source of nutrients than steeping green tea because you are ingesting it). It’s specifically rich in antioxidants called polyphenols.[12]

Shitake Mushrooms: Mushrooms are the fruit of fungus and are traditionally used in many cultures. Vitamin D can be found in UV-exposed mushrooms.[13]

 

Top Off Your Diet with Traditional Herbs:

Echinacea: This well-known herb is recognized for its immune supporting qualities.[14]

Astragalus: This is a prominent herb used in traditional Chinese culture that has flavonoids and polysaccharides. [15]

Ginseng: This short plant with fleshy roots is a potent antioxidant that is used in traditional Chinese culture as an herbal remedy for maintaining immune homeostasis and supporting the effects on the immune system.[16]

Rhodiola: This traditionally-used plant may have immune supporting compounds and antiviral effects in athletes.[17]

Looking for products to help support your immune system? Vega One® All-in-One provides you with 20% DV (daily value) antioxidant Vitamin A and 40% DV Vitamin C. Vega One® Organic All-in-One Shake provides you with 20% DV antioxidant Vitamin A and 50% DV Vitamin C and  Vega® Essentials provides you with 30% DV Vitamin C or check out the Vega Sport® Pro line of supplements for Vitamin D and C.

For more information on eating an immune-supporting plant-based diet, check out this story on getting started, and this story on the importance of including probiotics in your diet.

Once you’ve added in some of the information above into your daily routine you may want to learn more. Connect with our community on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279364/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841576/

[3] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-c/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164568/

[5]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4479675/

[6] https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Carolyn_Lister/publication/268516190_Nutritional_attributes_of_spinach_silver_beet_and_eggplant/links/546e85d60cf2b5fc176078f8.pdf

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4696435/

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4417560/ or https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3915757/

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/

[11] https://myvega.ca/blogs/content/what-are-the-probiotics-in-vega

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855614/

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213178/

[14] https://www.avogel.it/pubblicazioni/Doc/Schapowal-Adv-Ther-2015.pdf

[15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5758356/

[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659612/#:~:text=Ginseng%20has%20been%20well%20known,through%20effects%20on%20immune%20system. And https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1479-5876-7-34

[17] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4521101/

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