It seems like each week there is a new strain of flu going around. Although you may not be able to fully protect yourself from coming in contact with the virus, you can certainly lessen your chances of letting it attack your immune system and getting you sick.
Our biggest barrier to the outside world isn’t through our skin, but through our guts! What you eat has a lot to do with how your body fights off germs and sickness. Keep reading to get the #1 secret to boosting your immunity plus 5 vegan immunity-boosting soup recipes to keep you healthy all winter long.
Our immunity is our bodies ability to fight off a foreign organism, like an infection or a virus. When your body senses a foreign substance, our immune response is to produce antibodies. Antibodies fight the germs, which we call antigens. When your immunity is at its strongest, you produce more antibodies, which means you have more good guys fighting on your side.
So if your “it’s just allergies” coworker takes a sip of your coffee, or that guy on the subway wasn’t covering his mouth while coughing, you have a lesser chance of their antigens taking over your body and getting you sick.
As you age, your immune response decreases. This is why it's especially important for the elderly to improve their immunity through diet because they are more susceptible to lasting damage and even fatality through common sicknesses like colds and the flu.
Ok, so if a strong immune system is the goal, how can you get there? Look to your plate!
You can boost your immunity naturally (aka create more antibodies) by adding more fruits and veggies to your diet! Diets that promote 5-6 servings of fruits and veggies a day are proven to boost your immune response and antibody production.
While both fruits and veggies lessen your chances of getting sick, they work best when eaten in combination.
And when it comes to quantity, the more the better! The consumption of more than 6 servings of fruits and veggies was associated with an even higher immunity response (go figure)!
A whole food plant-based diet (healthy vegan diet) consistently contains the most servings of fruits and veggies of any diet and therefore is the best diet for immunity boosting.
Really, any fruit or veggie will help to increase your immune response, but there are a few in particular that take the (carrot) cake...and spoiler: they're not all citrus!
This nightshade is an absolute superfood. Not only are tomatoes delicious, they also contain compounds that prevent sun damage, have been associated with a lower chance of cancer, and can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Tomatoes also have incredible immunity-boosting compounds. In one study, subjects stopped including fruits and veggies from their diet. No surprise: their immune response plummeted. But by adding just 1 ½ cups of tomato juice a day to their nutrient-deficient diet, they were able to stabilize their immunity to where they were before they took fruits and veggies out altogether.
While other vegetables did help increase immunity in this study, none had an effect as drastic as the tomatoes.
These fungi have an extraordinary response to immunity. They are able to increase antibody production while decreasing inflammation. One study demonstrates that with just 1 cup of white button mushrooms a day, the IGA antibody production in saliva doubles. Even crazier? It stays that way for 2 weeks after eating the mushrooms!
Your mom was right: eat your broccoli! We know that not everyone is on the cruciferous veggie train, but if you hate them, it may be time to get on board. (Here are some chef tips for steaming vegetables perfectly, every time - no more mush!)
Cruciferous veggies are one of the strongest immunity-boosting foods out there and are required for proper immune response. Yep, compounds found in these veggies are “essential for sustaining intestinal immune function.”
Cruciferous veggies include broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and more.
Cold and flu season is the perfect time of year to cozy up with a warming bowl of soup. And these immunity boosting soup recipes are all loaded with antibody-producing ingredients like our top 3 listed above, plus: turmeric, red peppers, garlic, lemon, carrots, beans and more.
Click the soup name below for recipe!
No time to make soup? We hear you. Life gets busy! These MamaSezz soups aren't just healthy - they're super convenient because NO COOKING REQUIRED. Oh, and you get 10% off with code CHEF. Here's to staying healthy this winter!
Click soup to go to the product page!
By Caroline DiNicola Fawley
Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.