Boosting Your Immunity 101
The first step: choose the foods you eat carefully
The first and most important step in improving your health and maintaining perfect health is to make sure you are providing your immune system with the nutritional tools it needs.
Your body’s immune system is the tool most commonly taken for granted in self-healing. Your immune system’s sole purpose is to keep you healthy. Working tirelessly behind the scenes, your immune system knows instinctually how to clean out toxins, heal infections, kill cancer and remove foreign bodies.
Everything you eat is broken down into nutrients your body uses to help your internal systems, including your immune system, function at peak capacity. When we consume foods with toxic additives (i.e. artificial flavors & colors, nitrates & nitrites, sulfites, BPA, MSG, etc.) and harmful elements (i.e. mercury, magnesium sulphate, aluminum, sodium benzoate, etc.) your immune system goes into overdrive trying to clean them out. When your immune system becomes overburdened it has difficulty detecting and reacting to infections. When you combine this with not receiving the proper nutrients to support your immune system’s activities, your body becomes vulnerable to disease and chronic inflammation and, over time, begins showing the effects through digestive issues, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, diabetes, cancer… the list goes on.
Unfortunately, we are our worst enemies by creating barriers to self-healing through poor nutritional choices. Today’s lifestyles require that food preparation be quick and easy. Most of us don’t have the time or energy to cook every day. The ability to grab quick take-out or heat up an instant meal can be all that’s keeping us going as we rush from one responsibility to the next. But these short term decisions have long term negative effects. As we neglect the nutritional needs of your immune system, it can quickly become overworked and stressed.
Immunity Boosting Tips
#1: Read your ingredient lists.
If you don’t know what an ingredient is or you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.
Hidden behind the phrases “all natural”, “whole grain”, “gluten free”, “sugar free” found on the packaging of foods touting to be “good” for you are a series of additives and fillers that are not. Those terms are used by the food industry to sell their products without any proof that what’s inside fulfills their claim. If the ingredients include words you don’t understand or can’t pronounce, chances are they’re harmful to your body. Let Google be your friend and type some of those words into the search engine. It’s an eye-opening experience.
To learn how to read your ingredient lists, check out our blog post: Understanding the ingredients list on your food labels.
#2: Focus your diet on nutrient rich foods.
To support a strong, healthy immune system, make the nutritional value of your food choices count. You can’t go wrong with fresh fruits and vegetables. No additives or preservatives, nature made them packed full of bioavailable nutrients. To support a strong, healthy immune system, make the nutritional value of your food choices count. You can’t go wrong with fresh fruits and vegetables. No additives or preservatives, nature made them packed full of bioavailable nutrients.
- Keep apples, oranges, grapes, etc. handy for those quick snacks.
- Try carrots, broccoli, or celery dipped in homemade humus or guacamole
- Enjoy a handful of unsalted or reduce salted dry roasted nuts to hold you over to the next meal.
Different plant-based foods have different nutrient strengths. Dr. Gregor’s website NutritionFacts.org is one of our favorite places to go for the latest information on the healing power of a plant-based diet.
We also have some delicious recipes you can try to help you get started.
#3: Let your curiosity guide your learning.
The more you know and understand the easier it will be to make healthy food choices. Plant-Based4Health.com has lots of resources to help you discover a healthier way of eating. Checkout the list of resources under our Plant-based Tips tab. You may also want to check out our blog posts and extensive list of our go-to resources that we love.
#4: Don’t give up.
Make the commitment to begin one small change today. Making changes in your food habits can feel overwhelming. Your food habits were formed and reinforced over many years. It’s going to take time to make this healthy shift. Practice progress, not perfection, and each baby step will build upon itself. Checkout our guide to Setting up your food pantry.
- How Good Gut Health Can Boost Your Immune System, by Dr. Mark Hyman (2015), EcoWatch
- Gut Bacteria Can Help Rebuild the Immune System, by James Kingsland (2020), Medical News Today
- Gut Health and Immunity – It’s All About the Good Bacterial That Can Help Fight Disease, by Lori Zanteson (2012), Today’s Dietitian Magazine
- Study Confirms Gut Health Affects the Immune System, by Kristen Fischer (2020), Verywellhealth
- The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet, by Helen Fields 2015, John Hopkins Medicine website
- The Role of Nutrition in Supporting the Immune System Relative to Coronavirus (Covid-19), by the American Society of Nutrition (2020)