Many factors contribute to the normal function of the immune system, including getting plenty of sleep (6-8 hours per day), exercising regularly, avoiding stress and, of course, making sure that you follow a healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables.
Yep! What you eat matters when it comes to how often you get sick and duration of your illness. One of the greatest perks of following a plant-based diet is having a strong, resilient immune system! Research has shown that people who follow a plant-based diet are healthier and get sick less often than people who consume animal products.
That said, no matter how healthy your plant-based diet is, sometimes colds find a way to sneak into your body — and that's the real test for your immune system! If you're looking to get over a cold fast, keep reading to find out what you can eat to potentially speed up your recovery.
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Vitamin C is essential for a healthy immune system. It is a potent antioxidant and protects against oxidative stress. A plant-based diet offers high levels of vitamin C. Which plant-based foods are best for a Vitamin C boost? Load up on citrus fruits, melon, peas, peppers, sweet potatoes and more.
Berries are not only delicious, but also contain anthocyanins, which are types of flavonoids that give fruits their red, blue, and purple color. Anthocyanins are anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and immunity boosting. They can be found in blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and every other berry. Just remember that the brighter the color, the more flavonoids a fruit contains!
If you love salads, now is the time to eat as much as possible. Dark, leafy green vegetables — like spinach, lettuce, and kale — are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can protect cells and fight inflammation. They also have potent antibacterial properties so, if you are not currently a fan, try these hacks for sneaking more leafy greens into your diet so you can reap all their amazing benefits.
B vitamins are superstars when it comes to your immune system. Vitamin B5, for example, is crucial for antibody production, and can be found in plant-based foods like mushrooms, avocados, and lentils. Vitamin B6 helps immune cells fight bacteria and infections, and is abundant in sweet potatoes, spinach, and sunflower seeds. The more variety your WFPB diet has, the better chances of getting all the B vitamins.
Zinc is one of the most important minerals for the healthy function of your immune system. It helps repair cell membranes, aiding in faster recovery, and you can find plant-based zinc in seeds, lentils, quinoa, and chickpeas.
And of course, prevention is better than cure and a plant-based diet is the best prevention. In addition to following a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and getting all of your vitamins naturally, you can help your immune system by having a healthy sleep schedule, exercising regularly, and avoiding emotional stress.
- Those who follow a healthy plant-based diet are healthier and get sick less often than people who consume animal products.
- If you're hoping to get over a cold fast naturally, load up on vitamin C rich plant-based foods, berries, dark leafy greens, B vitamins, zinc-rich foods.
- To prevent a cold in the first place, eat a whole food plant-based diet and focus on getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and avoiding emotional stress.
Rafaela Michailidou is a Vegan Lifestyle Coach, and a freelance health and wellness content writer, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.