We are living in a moment when we are given the opportunity to look inside ourselves in order to discover what we can improve and how we can help make our planet a better place.
There are many things over which we have no control, such as what happens externally. However, there are other things over which we do have control: among them, the possibility of improving our habits, including choosing a diet that will keep our immune systems strong.
In order to achieve this, we need to take control over our habits: adopting good personal and dietary hygiene, avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, exercising (at least 150 minutes per week), keeping a healthy weight, controlling stress through meditation techniques, yoga and other ways, sleeping the necessary hours to guarantee an appropriate rest (between 7 and 10 hours) and above all, keeping a healthy diet.
Among the nutritional recommendations for keeping the immune system strong, it is advisable to include in our diets the following macronutrients which are sources of vitamin C, E, A, B complex (specifically B9), flavonoids, iron, selenium and zinc. The best sources of the vast majority of them are… plant-based foods!
It is important to include citrus fruits and vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli, since they will provide us with vitamin C, as well as cereals, sprouts and olive oil, as they provide us with vitamin E. We should also include orange-yellow foods such as peppers, mangoes and carrots, which contain vitamin A precursors; and green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds that will provide us with B complex and iron. It is worth mentioning that we find flavonoids exclusively in vegetables and fruits.
A healthy plant-based diet with the correct calorie intake and a good variety of fruits and vegetables, which includes the appropriate amount of legumes, whole grains and healthy fats, will help us keep our immune systems strong.
A buddha bowl: we can add spinach or kale, grated carrot, chopped tomato, purple cabbage, cooked cauliflower, cucumber slices and even a bit of beet. In addition, it is important to add some legumes such as beans, lentils or the ones you like the most, as well as cereals (quinoa, rice, corn, etc.) and healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, sesame seeds, ground flaxseed, among others).
It is also recommended to regularly include fermented products such as kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut and fermented vegetables. These will also help increase immune defenses since they provide us with probiotics which have proven benefits on the immune system and are also very easy to prepare. You just need a glass jar with a lid, water, salt and the vegetables you want to ferment (I recommend purple cabbage!). First, you must prepare the brine by dissolving the salt in water (the ideal proportion is between 20 to 30 grams of salt for each liter of water). Then, put the brine and the chosen vegetable inside the jar, close it firmly and place it somewhere cool and dark. Let it ferment for at least a week. Easy, right?
A multivitamin supplement is not necessary if there are no known deficiencies diagnosed by a specialist since the excess of some nutrients could be risky. However, this does not include vitamin B12, as its consumption must be strictly adhered to in those following a plant-based or vegan diet.
5 plant-based foods for those living in vulnerable conditions
As you see, plant-based diets are an excellent option for our health, as well as being kind to the planet and animals. These difficult times allow us to remember that helping people in need is in our own hands. Here are some healthy foods we can buy and share with those who need them: all types of beans and legumes, soy meat, rice, oat, fresh fruits and vegetables.
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