"The U.S death rate from infectious diseases is about 170,000 annually, double than what it was in 1980. With two billion people traveling by air each year, the potential for serious viral illnesses looms even larger in our future" — National Intelligence Council, The Global Infectious Disease Threat and Its Implications for the US; Jan 2000.
"Invisible warriors": Your immune system in action.
The idea of "being immune" rarely occurs to us until we're down and out with a nasty cold or a fever. You might think that the body's immune system jumps into action only during illness, which is not the case. Our immune system is constantly at work, fighting off billions of bacteria, germs and other pathogens we encounter in our daily lives. Our immune system is a conglomerate of cells and organs that combat invading bacteria, and these "invisible warriors" are an essential part of our biology. This invisible defense shield remains active even when you are asleep. Being immune is one of the ways our bodies stay alive.
How Do You Measure Immunity?
Unlike other biological markers such as cholesterol and glucose, we cannot assign a number to the immune defense to quantify its strength. That said, it is not difficult to see that some people get sick frequently, while others only occasionally. Some people may beat a cold or fever within a few days, while others battle with infection for a week or more. How does this difference of staying sicker for longer than other people occur? Scientists searched for answers to this question and came up with a solid finding. The answer largely depends on the kind of support against illness that is or is not present in the form of nutrients.
Ammunition for the Invisible Warriors
Study after study has proven that nutrients are the best tools that we can offer ourselves to build a strong immunity defense. Research clearly suggests that the nutritional status of a person plays a critical role in preventing or succumbing to a viral or bacterial infection. This fact is supported by hundreds of scientific studies which state that excellent nutrition can support immune health directly and indirectly by promoting resistance and fighting off illness when sickness does strike.
Many nutraceuticals and health supplement companies now bank on this finding and have introduced pills, tablets, capsules and even drinks to restore and build strong immunity, along with a relentless bombardment of conflicting health messages. In most cases one nutrient is deemed superior over the other, which encourages a faulty trend of ingesting isolated vitamins and minerals as immune building supplements. However, adhering to healthy eating habits is the one and only way to keep the immune system equipped and and ready to fight off invading bacteria and germs. The practice of consuming phytonutrients to boost immune health stems from many ancient cultures and civilizations. Ancient humans consumed certain plant foods for their astounding heath benefits, and also applied them topically for wound healing as well as treating scars. Equipping the body with wholesome and natural foods is key in improving human health, and plant-based foods are the wise path towards strong immunity. A plethora of research suggests that an exclusive plant-based diet is all it takes to boost our immune health.
Top 10 Reasons Why Plant-based Foods
Equal Better Immune Health
Here are some concrete reasons as why plant-based foods acts as perfect immune boosters:
2. Rich in antioxidant
3. Rich in phytonutrients
4. Nutrient-dense and provides an array of minerals and vitamins
5. Confers additional benefits, such as healthy cholesterol, blood pressure, body weight
6. Maintains the ideal pH balance of the body
7. Aids in a natural detoxification process
8. Tasty and flavorful
9. No additives or chemicals
10. Backed by years of research and traditional cultures
How to Eat for Building Immunity?
Contrary to popular belief it is not difficult to eat your way to a having a strong immune system. Here are some quick and easy ways to incorporate plant-based foods in your eating habits:
• Include a vegetable in every meal
• Choose plant proteins such as legumes, beans and lentils over animal proteins
• Consume a combination of nuts in place of an unhealthy snack
• Consume a variety of whole grains over refined grains
• Add a cup of fruit salad as part of your meal
• Incorporate herbs, spices and condiments such as turmeric, garlic, thyme, etc.
Plant-based foods are one important part of building immunity, the other two important factors are exercise and low stress. The idea of being super-resistant to infections and illnesses based solely on a plant-based diet is still not known, but what we can say is that plant-based foods certainly help our immune system to interact more efficiently with infectious pathogens, and decrease the frequency and length of illnesses.
Tips for Better Immune Health
Consume healthy fats
Eat anti-inflammatory foods such as nuts
Consume a variety of antioxidants from natural and wholesome foods
Consume enough water to stay hydrated
Enjoy a good night's sleep
Choose fresh and less processed foods
Cut back on alcohol and refined sugar
Maintain oral hygiene
Factors Influencing Immune Health
Overuse of medication
Environmental toxins such as pesticides
Quick Immune Building Recipe
Bok Choy Chick Pea Salad
½ cup red onions
1 large bunch bok choy, chopped
1 tsp. minced ginger
2 cloves roasted garlic, chopped
¼ cup carrot, shredded
¼ cup beets, shredded
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup cherry tomatoes
¼ cup Love Raw Foods™ chick peas, cooked
1 Tbsp. Love Raw Foods™ walnuts
1 Tbsp. Love Raw Foods™ raisins
salt and pepper to taste
dash of lemon juice, optional
Toss all the ingredients together and serve fresh for a quick lunch or dinner.