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EXPAND YOUR DIET HORIZONS WITH PLANT-BASED FOODS FOR INCREASED IMMUNITY

June 19, 2017 by Renee Tavoularis

EXPAND YOUR DIET HORIZONS WITH PLANT-BASED FOODS FOR INCREASED IMMUNITY

Holistic wellness involves a careful balance of natural skincare, health-promoting practices, and nutritious foods. The foods you eat are the ultimate power source for clear and radiant skin, superb energy, and optimal organ functioning. Your diet is also central to healthy immune functioning - and incorporating plant-based foods into your diet can help. 

If you are interested in boosting your immunity, consider a whole food, plant-based diet. As nature's ultimate healer, plant foods offer vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals to reverse or reduce the risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and decrease your need for medications. Incorporate these 5 types of plant-based foods into your diet to experience improved immune functioning.

Citrus Fruit

Grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes and other citrus fruit offer an abundant source of Vitamin C, which is significant in fighting oxidative damage related to aging. Vitamin C also fortifies your body's immune cells, helping defend the body against illness. Citrus fruit also contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals known as flavonoids that protect against cardiovascular disease.

How much to eat

Enjoy 2 to 4 servings of fruit each day--as long as they are in their natural form. You might also squeeze fresh citrus juice onto leafy green salads for a delicious low-calorie dressing. Place a lemon wedge in a cup of tea or glass of water for added health benefits.

Colorful Vegetables

When it comes to strengthening your immune system, fill your plate to reflect the colors of the rainbow and give your body a healthy combination of vital nutrients. Bright yellow, orange and red vegetables along with dark leafy greens offer nutrients like Vitamin E, Vitamin C and beta carotene--all of which are active in immune health. Vitamin E boosts the immune system by slowing down processes that damage healthy cells. Beta carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A, has antioxidant effects that protect your vision and lower your risk of cancer. 

How much to eat

Consume at least 6 servings of vegetables per day with at least 1 serving being a leafy green vegetable. At dinnertime, fill half your plate with colorful choices like carrots, summer squash, eggplant, peppers, spinach and kale to help prevent illness and disease.

Herbs and Spices

The seasoning you use to flavor food can also play a vital role in immune health. Garlic is a potent herb used in cooking with amazing medicinal purposes such as antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Ginger is an herb that decreases inflammation and benefits cholesterol. Turmeric is a spice containing curcumin that provides antioxidant benefits that protect the liver from toxins and improve digestion.

How much to eat

These herbs and spices don't have to be consumed daily to reap their benefits. However, you can incorporate them into your cooking throughout the week by mincing 1 clove of fresh garlic into salad dressings or marinades. Add about a quarter-inch slice of fresh ginger into vegetable stir-frys for enhanced flavor. Sprinkle a pinch of turmeric root powder onto roasted vegetables or blend it into fruit and vegetable smoothies for an added antioxidant boost.

Green Tea

Ranked next to water as one of the healthiest--and most popular--beverages, green tea has long since been enjoyed in Eastern cultures. Green tea contains antioxidants called catechins that have antiarthritic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and neuroprotective benefits. Its consumption has been connected to reduced risk of a variety of cancers, degenerative diseases, and cardiovascular disease. 

How much to eat

Brew up to 4 cups of green tea daily to enjoy its immune-strengthening effects. Add fresh lemon juice to enhance absorption of polyphenols.

Probiotic-Rich foods

Foods rich in probiotics contain immune-healthy organisms that are linked to minimizing gastrointestinal problems, supporting brain functioning, in addition to lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. There are numerous strains of probiotic cultures, which occur naturally in fermented foods. These foods are influential in improving gut health and boosting immunity.

How much to eat

Strive to consume at least one source of probiotics daily for digestive health. Plant-based options for probiotics include sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, miso, and kimchi. Try these probiotics in soups, salads, or smoothies.
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