Well, it happened. After 3 ½ years of being vegan, and claiming that vegans don’t get “sick”, I got sick! And not just a little nuisance of a cold either – a full-fledged nasty bronchitis, requiring 2 visits to the doctor and prescription medication. Sadly, I can no longer make the claim: “Since I’ve turned vegan, I no longer get sick.” Hey, it happens to the best of us!
So what can we do to strengthen our immune system at this time of year when everyone seems to be coming down with something? Can the foods we choose help us fight off infection? You bet they can! We can support our immune system by choosing foods high in vitamins C and E, zinc, beta-carotene, powerful antioxidants, and foods with natural antibacterial, antiseptic and antiviral properties.
Most of us have probably already read about the healing properties of garlic, onion and ginger. These are nature’s antibiotic, antibacterial antiseptics. They fight off viruses and keep your immune system in tiptop shape. Also to strengthen the immune system, red and green hot peppers and parsley are amazing with their high vitamins C and E content. An excellent vegan source for zinc is pumpkin seeds.
What’s an easy way to incorporate these immune boosting foods in our daily diet? I like to prepare a tasty little concoction that I use as a raw garnish on anything and everything. Keeping these ingredients raw will maximize their nutrition. Here’s the recipe:
Immune Boosting Garnish: Add To Everything
2-3 red and green hot peppers of your choice, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1. Mix all these ingredients in a small bowl. Add a pinch of sea salt. Use as a garnish over everything!
In addition to this, continue juicing organic fruits and veggies! Make your green smoothies in the morning and don’t forget your wheatgrass! Adding plenty, and a variety of, organic fruits and veggies to your diet will surely increase your beta-carotene, vitamins C and E intake. Beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E are the three major antioxidant vitamins, which support the immune system. You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables – especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. All citrus fruits and greens are high in vitamin C. Vitamin E powerhouses are broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds.
Also very helpful to immune system functioning are mushrooms. Mushrooms increase the production of cytokines, infection-fighting cells. They also contain polysaccharides, which are compounds that support the immune system. The most potent cold- and flu-fighting mushrooms are shitake and reishi.
Strengthening your immune system will help you avoid getting sick, make you recover quicker if you do get ill, and will improve many other things like the nuisance of allergies, and increase your energy levels.
Enjoy, in joy and in health!
“It is health that is the real wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver.” ~Mahatma Gandhi