As a Kindergarten teacher turned Holistic Nutritionist, who has been eating a whole food plantbased diet for 16 years, I know what a difference eating this way can make in your health! I first went plantbased after a pre-cancer diagnosis. I changed my diet overnight and committed to a whole food plantbased lifestyle and decided to learn everything that I could about holistic nutrition. Not only did my diet changes help to reverse the cancer cells, but my skin cleared up, my energy improved, my digestion healed and I stopped getting sick. I was teaching Kindergarten at the time and I went from always being a little sick and run down to having more energy than my students! It was an amazing discovery and I am excited to share with you why a plantbased diet is so effective in boosting the immune system and how you can use it to stay healthy.
Tip #1 - Include foods that contain high amounts of antioxidants.
Plantbased foods contain the highest amount of antioxidants of any other foods. Antioxidants are vitamins or phytonutrients that are water-soluble or fat-soluble. One of the greatest benefits to eating a whole food plantbased diet is that it crowds out nutrient-depleted foods and replaces them with foods high in antioxidants. Some of the foods that have been found to have the highest amounts of antioxidants are: spices and herbs, nuts and seeds, chocolate and vegetables.
Tip #2 - Eat More Fiber.
Gut Health has become a very popular topic in the wellness industry the past few years and there is a good reason for it. 70% of the immune system is located in the gut. Therefore it is imperative that we focus on healing our gut and eating for our gut health. Plantbased diets are superior in supporting the immune system because of the amount of fiber that they contain. Eating more fiber greatly supports our gut health by feeding our gut microbiome. All plant foods contain fiber including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts and legumes. Recommendations for fiber intake for most individuals is approximately 25-35 grams daily for optimal gut health and immune boosting benefits.
"We're in the drivers seats with our dietary choices. Every bite we eat determines the rise and fall of families of microbes inside of us." – Dr. Will Bulosiewicz, MD, MSCI
Tip #3 - Plant Diversity is important.
One mistake I made when I started eating a plantbased diet was not including a variety of foods. I found myself eating the same meals over and over and eventually it got boring and my energy decreased. Once I learned how to include a variety of plant foods into my diet, I reached a new level of health! And so can you. Plant dietary diversity, meaning a wide variety of plantbased foods, is important for a healthy gut and a healthy immune system. Each plant food has a specific type of fiber and specific type of nutrients that feed specific microbes inside our gut. So when we eat a diet full of many different plant foods and a wide variety, we will have a more diverse gut microbiome. And when we have a more diverse gut microbiome, we have a stronger immune system and better health.
Tip #4 - Eat the rainbow daily.
In order to boost and maintain our immune system health, we must include fresh colorful fruits and vegetables every day. A good goal is to try and include 2-3 fruits and/or vegetables with every meal. If you can include more that is great but 2-3 is a great place to start. Each color contains different nutrients that our body can use to support our overall health. My favorite color food for immune system support is Orange. Orange foods like carrots, squash, pumpkin contain high quantities of vitamin A. VItman A supports our whole blood cells which are the bodies first responders in a viral or bacterial infection. And citrus foods which can be orange, red and yellow contain high amounts of vitamin C which is very important for immune system function. So the next time you make a meal, try to include as many colorful fruits and veggies as you can.
Tip #5 - Aim for a diet that is 90% plantbased.
You do not need to go vegan in order to enjoy the benefits of a plantbased diet. It doesn't matter if you are a vegan, vegetarian, paleo or just a simple omnivore - you can make healthy food choices and unhealthy food choices. To boost health, focus on eating mostly plants, include high quality plant protein and (if you desire) non plant protein and your immune system will benefit. I recommend working towards a 90% plantbased diet for best results and eating as much organic food as possible.
When you eat more plants, you are going to feel better because you are nourishing your body with the nutrients it needs to thrive!
By including more plantbased foods in your daily diet you can greatly improve your immune system! Because plant foods have so many healing benefits, any amount added can help you. Science has shown us that it really does make a difference in our health to include an abundance of plantbased foods in our diet. If you are curious about how you can get started with a plantbased lifestyle, Click Here to watch my video on what I buy at the grocery store on a plantbased diet. To read more on the emerging research behind a plantbased diet, covid-19 and the immune system, Click Here.