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6 Plant-Based Immune Boosting Foods

6 Plant-Based Immune Boosting Foods

Eating a diet rich in plant-based immune-boosting foods helps us to fend off illnesses and stay healthy. During the winter months, our immune systems need extra support because cold weather makes us more susceptible to sickness. The food we eat greatly affects how well our immune systems function.

Plant-based immune-boosting foods contain nutrients that bolster our immune system and enable it to function optimally. For this reason, many nutritionists recommend that plant-based foods should form the foundation of a healthy diet.

There are several different types of plant-based diets you can choose from. And don’t worry – eating a plant-based diet doesn’t necessarily mean forgoing all animal products. A plant-based diet is any diet based on a foundation of healthy plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts. The specific details of your plant-based diet are totally your choice!

Let’s take a look at some plant foods that are especially good at boosting your immune system. We’ll also learn about how and why eating plant-based foods may boost immunity.

What Are Plant-Based Foods?

Plant-based foods are exactly what they sound like: foods that come from plants. “Plant-based” refers to basically all wholefoods, excluding meat and dairy. This includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, oils, and grains.

Types Of Plant-Based Diets

There are several versions of a plant-based diet you can choose from:

  • Vegan (only plant-based foods and no animal foods)
  • Raw vegan (only raw, plant-based foods)
  • Vegetarian (mostly plants and no meat, but dairy and eggs are included)
  • Flexitarian (mostly plant-based foods but also a minority of animal foods)


Image by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels: What plant foods boost the immune system?


Benefits Of A Plant-Based Diet

Eating a diet rich in plant-based immune boosting foods has many benefits. Research suggests that getting your protein from plant-based foods:

  • Lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Lowers the risk of some types of cancers
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Reduces saturated fat intake
  • Increases fiber intake.

As well as this, plant-based foods are:

  • Rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals
  • Usually less calorie-dense than animal foods
  • Usually relatively cheap compared to animal foods
  • Low in saturated fat.

What Nutrients Boost Immune System Function?

Research suggests that the following nutrients are vital for the health of cells in your immune system:

  • Vitamins C, D, E
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Folic acid
  • Selenium
  • Iron
  • Protein

All of these vital nutrients can be found in high-quality plant-based immune boosting foods.

How Eating Plant-Based Foods May Boost Immunity

Does a plant-based diet boost your immune system? Yes! If you implement a healthy plant-based diet, this will improve immune system functioning. Here’s how:

  • The cells that make up your immune system, such as white blood cells that fight infection, need good nutrition to function optimally. A varied diet rich in nutrient-dense plant foods will be high in the vitamins and minerals your immune cells need.
  • Your immune system can be weakened by other existing health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. These conditions can cause inflammation and complications that make it harder for your immune system to fight pathogens. Research suggests that a diet high in plant-based foods is beneficial for all of these conditions.
  • Many pathogens enter your body via your gut, and beneficial gut bacteria are a crucial line of defense against these pathogens. Approximately 70% of the body’s immune cells are located in the lining of the intestine. Microbes in the gut play a vital role in keeping this system healthy, so good gut health is vital for optimal immune system function. Research suggests that eating a wide variety of plant foods encourages different types of beneficial gut bacteria to thrive.
  • Further research suggests that diets rich in plant foods such as berries, oranges, cruciferous vegetables, and wholegrains tend to be high in fiber. Eating the recommended 30g of fiber per day is crucial for a healthy gut microbiome.


Image by Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels: Does a plant-based diet boost your immune system? It sure does!


What Plant Foods Boost The Immune System?

Here are our top six plant-based immune-boosting foods. (And if you’re wondering “What are the best vegan foods for the immune system?”, the good news is that all of these foods can be enjoyed as part of a vegan diet!)

1. Citrus Fruits

Research suggests that citrus fruits have strong immune system-boosting properties. Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, and eating citrus fruits stimulates the creation of white blood cells that fight infection and viruses.

2. Red Fruits and Vegetables

Research suggests that red-colored vegetables and fruits, such as red peppers, cherries, tomatoes, red onions, strawberries, watermelon, apples, and red cabbage, are high in beta-carotene (which the body converts into vitamin A) and vitamin C. Both of these nutrients have potent immune system-boosting properties.

3. Cruciferous Vegetables

Research suggests that cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower, are rich in nutrients such as vitamin C, antioxidants, and beta-carotene that help to fight infection and offer strong support to your immune system.

4. Garlic

Research indicates that garlic, eaten cooked or raw, stimulates immune-system cells such as macrophages, lymphocytes, and natural killer cells. Garlic also contains various compounds that fight viruses. This tasty ingredient is a highly potent immune system boosting plant food.

5. Ginger

Ginger has been shown to boost the immune system by stimulating the release of compounds that fight viral infections.

6. Turmeric

Research suggests that curcumin (the orange-yellow compound found in turmeric) has powerful immune system-boosting properties. Curcumin is an immunomodulatory agent that modulates the activation of immune system cells (such as macrophages, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells), and also has anti-inflammatory effects.

It’s sometimes necessary to supplement your diet with some extra vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, especially during times of high stress or the cold winter months. GenBoost will be releasing a new immunity supplement range soon, so keep an eye out for details!


Featured image by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

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