Eating a low-fat, plant-based diet may help give the immune system a boost. The immune system relies on white blood cells that produce antibodies to combat bacteria, viruses, and other invaders. Vegetarians have been shown to have more effective white blood cells when compared to nonvegetarians, due to a high intake of vitamins and low intake of fat.
Eating a low-fat diet may also be protective. Studies have shown that limiting dietary fat helps strengthen immune defenses. Research also shows that oil may impair white blood cell function and that high-fat diets may alter the gut microbiota that aid in immunity.
Maintaining a healthy weight can also benefit the immune system. Obesity has been linked to increased risk for influenza and other infections such as pneumonia. Plant-based diets are effective for weight loss, because they are rich in fiber, which helps fill you up, without adding extra calories. Fiber can also lower BMI, which is linked to improved immunity. A plant-based diet has also been shown to reduce inflammatory biomarkers.
Replace one of your morning cups of joe with a cup of tea. Herbal teas contain potent plant compounds that are beneficial for immune health. For example, elderberry tea is rich in flavonoids and anthocyanins, bioactive antioxidants that may support the immune system and promote a healthy inflammatory response. They may also increase the absorption of vitamin C, an essential micronutrient that’s popularly used to boost immunity.
Here are a few tips improve your eating habits:
- Avoid eating candies and chocolates. You should also limit your intake of sugary drinks like sweetened tea and coffee, fruit juices and soda.
- Eat fresh fruit instead of cakes and cookies.
- If you want savory snacks, try carrot and zucchini sticks with some hummus or a handful of unsalted almonds or walnuts.
- Eat whole-grain foods such as unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat and brown rice. These superfoods are full of fiber that promotes digestive health. Dietary fiber also makes you feel full longer.
- Eat a mix of whole grains like wheat, maize and rice; fresh fruit and vegetables; legumes like beans and lentils and protein like eggs, lean meat, or fish.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps strengthen your immune system. You can try eating more superfoods such as leafy greens, berries and citrus fruits as these are packed with essential nutrients in a single serving. In turn, these nutrients boost immunity and help the body ward off infections.