Plant-based foods are amazing for your health as you already know, but certain foods have specific properties that have been linked to improving immune system function. These foods contain certain properties as you’ll see below that not only target heart health, but also help improve gut bacteria, which in turn positively affects the immune system. Like nature’s version of antibiotics, these foods make great foods in to include in your diet whether you’re already sick or trying to prevent getting sick.
It’s of course important to remember to eat these foods regularly as a part of a healthy, balanced diet and live a healthy lifestyle. Consider using some of these wonderful natural foods as a way to enhance your immune system, or consume them to kick a cold to the curb as soon as it shows up!
Garlic and garlic extracts provide protection against free radical damage in the body via allyl disulfide, alliin, allicin, and allyl cysteine, all of which are powerful antioxidants. They have also been linked to better gut health, which improves your immune system naturally. The immune system is largely located in the digestive system, so keeping your good bacteria healthy with foods like garlic (and onions) is a great way to enhance immune function naturally. Use this amazing herb in some delicious hummus or a comforting soup like Roasted Garlic, Miso, and Greens Soup.
Onions, with the flavonoid quercetin, help to eliminate free radicals in the body by inhibiting low-density lipoprotein oxidation, protecting and regenerating vitamin E, and inactivating the harmful effects of chelate metal ions. Like garlic, they also enhance your digestive system and immune system by feeding good bacteria that keeps your gut healthy. Whip up some raw onion-y curry today or some Eggplant Onion and Tomato Stew!
Phenolic contact, or concentration of flavonoids/antioxidants are the main reason onions are so powerful are for warding off illness, like the cold or a flu. Fresh and pickled red cabbages have the highest total phenolic content of the different types of cabbage. The antioxidant capacity of raw and processed cabbages is highly correlated with their contents of polyphenols like kaempferol, quercetin, and apigenin. Don’t wait to try this delicious antioxidant-rich in a vegetable packed bowl of noodles!
Sauerkraut, preferably raw, unpasteurized, and free of vinegar, is the ideal fermented food, with loads of beneficial bacteria, probiotics, and lactic acid packed into a single serving. The lactic acid is the main non-toxic and completely beneficial antiviral agent, supplying the sour flavor to the sauerkraut. Looking to add more pickled foods like sauerkraut into your diet? Find out some simple tips to get more fermented foods like kraut into your diet and enjoy a little each day.
Over-ripened kimchi is a humble, yet powerful superfood that has undergone two or more years of fermentation has the highest antioxidant activity compared to short-term fermented (less than seven days) kimchi. These antioxidants can work too as natural antiviral agents just like sauerkraut.
Phenolics, a group of organic compounds found in tea, herbs, fruits and vegetables, account for the majority of basil’s antioxidant properties, and these include vicenin, orientin, eugenol and anthocyanins. Again, to match these antioxidants, there is also antiviral properties that contain DNA protecting flavonoids. Among these flavonoids are estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene which are all capable of restricting the growth of numerous harmful bacteria, including listeria, staphylococcus, E. coli, yersinia enterocolitica, and pseudomonas aeruginosa. Make some Basil Noodle and White Bean Salad today!
Ginger is a well known antibacterial food that has been shown to be more effective against bacterial staph infections than antibiotics, killing cancer cells, having anti-inflammatory, resolving brain inflammations, and easing gut problems. Ginger goes great in many dishes, but these raw, ginger energy bites are one of the best ways to try it out!
Please note that even though there are many antioxidants and antibiotic properties in these foods, they should not be seen as substitutes for medical grade antibiotics, especially when you have a serious health issue. Be sure to consult with your doctor about these natural alternatives if you have a condition, like acne, that may benefit from supplementing with these natural antibiotics though.
Image Source: Chile-Garlic Potatoes and Cauliflower with Turmeric