Cough, sneeze, sniffle; repeat.
January always seems to bring a new type of cold or flu virus that knocks you off your feet. No matter where you live, coming down with a nasty bug is almost inevitable this time of year. Seriously, who has time for that?
Not us, that’s for sure. Being sick is totally miserable and makes it hard to be a functioning part of society. With the holidays finally having wound down, we’re just getting into the swing of normal life again. Health, fitness and productivity are on our New Year agendas, and the flu is not invited.
You already know the best ways to stay healthy are by washing your hands, using Purell like crazy, sneezing into your elbow, and bundling up when you go outside. But did you also know there are a bunch of vegan foods that can boost your immune system? It’s true. In addition to the practices above, following a vegan meal plan full of nutritious fruits and vegetables can be really influential in warding off illness.
Whether you’re a brand new vegan or you’ve followed a plant-based diet for years, try adding these superfoods to your meals for an extra cold and flu-fighting punch.
People have been eating mushrooms for years to promote healthy immune systems. Now we know why. “Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This is a good thing when you have an infection," says Douglas Schar, DipPhyt, MCPP, MNIMH, director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine in Washington, DC.
There’s a good reason our parents always made us finish our broccoli. This super-veggie is loaded with nutrients including vitamins A, C, and E as well as numerous antioxidants. It’s honestly one of the healthiest vegetables you can bring to the dinner table. Eat it raw or just slightly cooked to get the full range of nutritional benefits.
We love loading up on leafy greens! Spinach contains the nutrient folate, which helps your body make new cells and repair DNA. Add a cup or two of spinach to your smoothie, salad, stir-fry, soup, or pasta dish for an extra boost of fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, and more. Just like broccoli, spinach is best cooked as little as possible so that its nutrients are retained.
Not only is hot tea comforting on a cold day, it also plays a major role in boosting your immune system. Whether you choose white, green or black, tea delivers disease-fighting polyphenols and flavonoids that seek out free radicals and destroy them. Tip: Get up to five times more antioxidants from your tea bag by bobbing it up and down while you brew.
5. Sweet Potato
One of the best ways to sneak vitamin A into your diet is by eating foods that contain beta-carotene, like sweet potatoes. Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, which serves as a giant barrier against bacteria, viruses, and other intruders that try to enter your body and make you sick.