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How to Boost Your Immunity With Food.

Updated: Feb 22, 2022

You know that old saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away?" Turns out there might be some truth to it. Eating a healthy diet is one of the best ways to boost your immune system and keep sickness at bay.


It's that time of year again when all your friends start to get sick and you just know it's only a matter of time before you do too. Rather than waiting until you feel under the weather, why not try boosting your immune system naturally so you stay healthy all along?


First, what is the immune system?


By definition, immunity is "the power or process of resisting disease or something that works to destroy, check or frustrate."


This definition implies that we can work to improve our ability to resist infection and disease. In fact, there are a number of actions we can take to boost our immune system — many of which are effective at preventing the common cold and flu.


A strong immune system helps protect us from unwanted bugs, but what happens when our immune system goes into overdrive? The immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that defends the body against infections and other dangers. When the body senses danger from a virus or infection, the immune system kicks into gear and attacks it.


A person's immune system is constantly developing, meaning it can change over time. Some factors that affect the strength of the immune system include age, genetics, diet, sleep patterns, exercise, stress levels, medical history, and lifestyle choices.


Your immune system is what keeps you healthy. It helps your body fight off infections and other harmful invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. If you have a weakened immune system, you may develop infections or illnesses more easily than others.


While there's no sure way to prevent illness, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of infection and strengthen your immune system.


What Makes a Healthy Diet?




With the omicron variant of COVID-19 spreading like wildfire and lots of concern about getting sick with COVID, the flu, and anything else going around, having a strong immune system is on top of everyone's mind. Often, folks get worried and start popping supplements that promise to boost their immune system. However, many often forget that the body has a built-in immune system, and eating the right foods can help ensure that it’s in tip-top shape.


How to Boost Your Immunity With Food
How to Boost Your Immunity With Food

7 Immunity-Boosting Foods

These foods can be included in a healthy eating plan in order to keep your immune system in top shape:

  • Garlic.

  • Ginger.

  • Lentils.

  • Oranges.

  • Turmeric.

  • Walnuts.

  • Yogurt.

A healthy diet doesn't require a lot of money, fancy appliances, or subsisting on any kind of restrictive eating plan. Eating well means listening to that little voice inside that knows what healthy foods generally look like – fresh and recognizable in nature – and what they don't: prepackaged and processed.


That sensibility may not fit so well with our on-demand culture, where we want results now – whether it's dinner or weight loss. If you want a program that works in the long run, you'll need a lifestyle you can live with and like. That means a diet that's nutritious and delicious, and that will take a bit of meal planning and commitment from you.


While staying lean is a big part of good health, weight loss doesn't always equal health gained. That new diet that took inches off your waistline could be harming your health if it locks out or severely restricts entire food groups, relies on supplements with little scientific backing, or clamps down on calories to an extreme.



What are the Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet?




While there are a variety of reasons for adopting a vegan diet, health reasons are attracting a lot of scientific focus. Vegans tend to be thinner, have lower cholesterol, and have lower blood pressure, and there is some evidence there are additional health benefits that can lead to longer life expectancy.


Metabolism benefit

Vegans benefit from increased consumption of vegetables but can miss out on essential nutrients due to the avoidance of meat and dairy. Vegan diets are usually high in fiber, magnesium, folic acid, phytochemicals, and vitamins C and E. On the other hand, they tend to be lower in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, zinc, and vitamins B-12 and D. Studies in the short and moderate-term have found that vegan diets can improve energy metabolism in healthy, obese, and type 2 diabetic individuals. Some believe this is due to favorable changes in the gut microbiome that are brought about due to the vegan diet, but there is currently not enough research to verify this. There is also some evidence that vegans consume more protective nutrients and phytochemicals.




Cardiovascular benefits

Diets that are high in fruits and vegetables, nuts, vegetable oils, and whole grain are often associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease development. These types of diets traditionally include Mediterranean and Asian diets, but recently the vegan diet has been postulated to have similar effects. The lower risk of cardiovascular disease can be achieved by a vegetarian diet, where dairy is included. This seems to be primarily due to the increased intake of fruits and vegetables, which contain valuable nutrients, including fiber and antioxidant vitamins, and have been independently associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. While vegan diets are often seen as having lower fat content and vegans are usually thinner, the actual benefits of fat intake associated with veganism on cardiovascular diseases are disputed. In general, vegetable oils are seen as more beneficial than animal fat due to their content of monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and α-linolenic acid.



Effects on cancer prevalence


A lot of evidence indicates that vegans and vegetarians have a lower risk of various cancers, both due directly to nutrient intake and due to secondary effects. For example, obesity is a significant factor in cancer risk, and due to the lower BMI of vegans, they also enjoy lower cancer risk. Fruits and vegetables have been described as lowering the risk of lung, mouth, esophagus, and stomach cancers, and they tend to be consumed in higher quantities in vegans. Phytochemicals, which are abundant in vegetables and occur at a higher volume in vegan diets, have antioxidant qualities and disrupt cells to stop the progression of cancer. While vegan diets include nutrients known to lower the risk of cancer, there can also be adverse effects of vegan diets on cancer risks. For example, low vitamin D is associated with increased cancer risk and is also generally low in vegan diets. This may explain why there are no more pronounced differences in the development of cancer between vegans and non-vegans. Vegans may have increased risks due to deficiencies but decreased risks due to increased antioxidant consumption or lower body weight.



Cognitive benefits


One of the lesser-studied areas in how vegan diets can affect an individual is a neurobiology and cognitive function. Studies that have focused on this have found mild or moderate improvements when patients afflicted with migraine, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis consumed a vegan diet. These studies are confounded by not accounting for the gluten content of the plant-based diet and by small sample sizes. Studies looking at specific nutrients show some signs that vegan diets can be beneficial for cognition and mental health. Intake of phytochemicals, which appears to be higher in vegans, is associated with beneficial effects on mental health. In contrast, lower intake of vitamin B-12, which is common in vegans, is associated with detrimental effects on the neurologic system and cognitive health, such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.


If you have reservations about a diet's nutritional content or safety, listen to your body. Fatigue, sleeplessness, dizziness, aches – they're all red flags.

It's important to keep in mind that a healthy diet isn't only or all about losing weight. It is one that improves health and helps fight disease, We know that there is no one diet that's right for everyone, so it’s important to follow an eating plan that's packed with tasty, healthy foods that keep your unique lifestyle in mind.


A healthy diet paired with exercise is the best combination to keep the immune system. The key to a healthy lifestyle is not one-size-fits-all. It requires an individualized approach that takes into account your specific needs and preferences, such as what kind of food you like or how much time they have for exercise each day.

A well-balanced diet with lots of fresh produce will help keep cravings at bay while keeping energy levels up during busy workdays!



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