The immune system can be influenced by the food you eat. Some foods contain essential components to help support your immune system, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can be found in plant-based sources.
Over the past few years, there has been increased interest in plant-based diets. This is partly because of health reasons, since plant foods contain various nutrients. But can eating plant-based foods also be a factor in supporting a healthy immune system?
How does the immune system protect you?
The immune system is a complex network of cells, organs, proteins, and tissues essential for your survival. It detects and responds to a variety of pathogens like viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
Supporting a healthy immune system can be complex, as there is not one single way to manage it. This is a system that requires a balance of making healthy food and lifestyle choices. Making positive choices such as practicing healthy personal hygiene, staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep and exercise, managing stress, in addition to a healthy diet all play a role.
Smoking, chronic stress, excessive alcohol intake, inadequate sleep, consumption of foods high in sugars and unhealthy fats can all bog down your immune system.
So, how may a plant-based diet support your immune system?
About 70 percent of your immune system is in the gut. And both the gut microbiome and their metabolites influence its functioning. Therefore, maintaining a healthy and balanced gut microbiome is essential for supporting your immune system.
Foods that potentially support gut health can also support the immune system. Whole plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds are sources of various nutrients and components that can help support your overall wellness.
Here are some components of the plant-based diet that may help support a healthy immune system:
- Fiber: Most plant-based foods contain in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber acts as food for the gut microbiome, increasing their number and variety. On the other hand, insoluble fiber helps in the elimination of waste.
- Antioxidants: Many Fruits and vegetables are sources of antioxidants. Examples of antioxidants include beta-carotene, vitamin C and E, selenium, and lycopene. Dietary antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against free radicals.
Is diet enough to support a healthy immune system?
The answer is no. Although diet is very important, many factors play a critical role in ensuring that your immune system functions at its best. Other lifestyle modifications you should consider include:
- Getting adequate and quality sleep
- Incorporating stress management activities like yoga and meditation
- Quit smoking
- Reduce alcohol intake
If your dietary intake isn’t enough through food alone, you may consider supplementation as a way to fill nutrient gaps. Amazing Grass Green Superfood is an easy and delicious-tasting way to add more immune-supporting, fruits, and veggies to your diet.
In conclusion, yes a plant-based diet can support a healthy immune system. Focus on consuming a variety of whole plant-based foods that can support immune function while promoting a balanced and healthy gut microbiome.