VEG 101: Build Your Immune System With A Plant-Based Diet

One of the most common misconceptions about plant-based diets is that the lifestyle lacks the nutrients and minerals that help fight off illnesses and keep the body healthy. Check out this list of nutrients that can be found in plant-based foods that will help build your immune system. 

ID-100480461. Carotenoids: Popular carotenoids in the American diet include beta-carotene (found in carrots, sweet potatoes, peaches and papayas) and lycophene (found in tomatoes). Carotenoids protect the body from free radicals (unstable molecules responsible for aging and tissue damage), they provide the body with vitamin A, and help the reproductive system work properly.

2. Copper: Copper is an essential mineral required by the body for bone & connective tissue production. Sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are high in copper. While over-consumption of  copper-rich foods can be harmful to the body, a deficiency can lead to osteoporosis and joint pain.

3. Flavonoids: Flavonoids function in the body as antioxidants and regulate inflammation. They can act as an antibiotic by disrupting the progress of some viruses or bacteria, protect cells from oxygen damage and enhance the power of vitamin C in your body. Foods rich in flavonoids include strawberries, blueberries, pinto beans, and onions.

4. Folate: Folate is a B-complex vitamin that helps to produce and maintain new skin cells. Sources of include Sources include cereals, baked goods, leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, lettuce), okra, asparagus, fruits (bananas, melons, lemons), legumes, yeast, mushrooms, organ meat (beef liver, kidney), orange juice, and tomato juice.

5. Glutamine: Glutamine is an amino acid (a building block for proteins), found naturally in the body. Our bodies synthesize glutamine from another amino acid (glutamic acid). It helps to maintain the body’s acid-base balance. Foods high in glutamine include beets, cabbage, and beans.

6. Liopic Acid: Liopic Acid helps turn glucose (blood sugar) into energy for the body’s needs. It prevents oxygen based damage to nerves and has been shown to strengthen the effects of vitamins C and E. Liopic Acid can be found in dark green leafy vegetables, including spinach and collard greens; and broccoli.

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7. Lycophene: Lycophene is a member of the carotenoid family and is most associated with giving tomatoes their red color. It helps prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, thereby slowing the development of atherosclerosis. Lycophene can be found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon, and guava.

8. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s can activate enzymes that suppresses tumor growth. They are also known for reducing inflammation, preventing blood clotting, and reduce the risk of becoming obese and improve the body’s ability to respond to insulin by stimulating the secretion of leptin, a hormone that helps regulate food intake, body weight and metabolism. Omega-3s can be found in walnuts, ground flax seeds, and tofu.

9. Selenium: Selenium protects cells against oxidative damage. They also prevent DNA damage which inhibits the multiplication of cancer cells. Selenium can be found in barley, button mushrooms and Brazil nuts.

10. Vitamin B6: Many of the building blocks of protein require adequate supplies of B6 for synthesis. It also plays a role in new cell formation and processing carbohydrates when your body needs energy. Most vegetables typically contain reasonable levels of vitamin B6, but there are some vegetable powerhouses that are B6-rich. Bell peppers, spinach, baked potatoes (skin included), green peas, yams, broccoli, asparagus and turnip greens are all excellent sources of vitamin B6.

Sources:

The World’s Healthiest Foods http://www.whfoods.com

Supercharge Your Immune System by Ellen Brown

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