A Plant Based Immune System Boost

March 27, 2020

 Health & Diet are Connected



There are ways to optimize our health, and our resistance to illness, even against the Coronavirus. Here are a few suggestions for Whole Food, Plant Based (WFPB) meals that may do just that.


Disclaimer: We’re not experts. But our sources are, and their robust, peer reviewed research is based on hard facts. Where relevant, we’ll cite that research, along with the meals & food items those experts recommend.


First, some yummy recipes.


            1—Roasted Garlic & Onion 'Buttah' from Rouxbe.com. This smooth, savory ‘buttah’ is a base that we use for all kinds of things, from toppings on veggies, for sauces, salad dressing, and to spread on toast.  


 Roasted Garlic & Onion 'Buttah' (Note the dating)



 Green Tea Is Good for You


2—Green Tea: Called ‘the healthiest beverage on the planet’, green tea is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that assist our immune systems . Another benefit of drinking green tea is that it can help wean away from too much coffee, if that’s a problem. Source: Healthline.com


 A Kiwi X-Mas Tree



3—Kiwi fruit: Though kiwi fruit boasts about as much Vitamin C as fresh oranges, it does contain antioxidants and other vitamins, so eating them can be a useful substitute. From Nutritionfacts.org            

 Port Wine Mushroom Gravy

                                                                                                                                                     picture Center for Nutrition Studies


4—Mushrooms: We’ve tried this port wine mushroom gravy on mashed potatoes, and it’s simply delicious. Source: T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.             


 Fermented Beets!


5—Fermented foods: We’ve fermented beets, and they’re almost as good as our favorite merlot...almost. 


Kale & Sweet Potato Salad 

                                                                                                                                                       Picture: FOK



6—Kale: Kale & sweet potato salad is one of our favorite ways to use kale. The average American eats roughly .28 cups of kale per year, not very much. So here’s your chance to be a rebel. Eat kale, and prosper! Recipe courtesy of forksoverknives.com.


 Yellow & Orange are good for you


7—Yellow & Orange foods: Yellow & orange vegetables are high in beta-carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A. This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant, and helps the immune system. So eat those carrots and yellow peppers! I’ve listed a few recipes below using these high-value foods. There are many more available on-line at Rouxbe.com, forksoverknives.com, brandnewvegan.com, UCDintegrativemedicine.com/recipes, and other sources.


One possible benefit of the quarantine we're all under, and the restrictions on public movement is this. Grocery store shelves may be empty of the standard, low nutritional items most people purchase. This leaves the outside aisles, and the produce section relatively untouched, allowing WFPB eaters to shop with good social distance, and more to buy.

A win-win!


Speaking of social distancing, here's a thought to help out our friends who may be feeling slightly ostracized: Shop for veggies & fruits at an Asian market. They need the business now more than ever.


Additional Immune-boosters:


1—Eat More fruits & Veggies


First, from The Center for Nutrition Studies: Your mother was right; you should eat more fruits and vegetables. In a recent controlled study “those who ate more fruits and vegetables saw a significant increase in nutrients critical to the immune system, such as in vitamin C, lycopene and zeaxanthin”.


The conclusion of this cited study is this: Researchers found “there is a link between this achievable dietary goal [and] improved immune function.”


One reason for this benefit is that people who eat a WFPB menu have a healthier microbiome. Their gut bacteria are better able to fight disease, and their level of serum ImmunoGlobulin A (IGA) and other microbe fighting agents are better equipped to do their job without being hindered or suppressed.


2—Eat Less Fat!


With the Standard American Diet (SAD), the average American consumes 35% of calories from fat. In a controlled study, reducing fat intake from the standard 35% of calories to 20% had beneficial effects. They (researchers) concluded that low-fat diets combined with weight loss could have, “a beneficial effect on cell-mediated immunity.”  In other words, less fat = more resistance.


Doctor Neal Barnard MD FACC at The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM.org  says animal fats contribute to several health problems, such as obesity, cognitive dysfunction, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, oxidative stress, arterial stiffness, and breast cancer. Fatty foods also reduce white cell count, which can lower immunity, Further studies have shown that eating a low fat, plant based or vegan diet may grant an additional ten years to the average life span.


3—Avoid Processed Foods.


Full of calories, but short on nutrition, the SA Diet is deficient in such elements as zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6 and E. Lack of these additives is linked to a weakened immune system. Processing food within an inch of its nutritional life removes many of these healthful, needed nutrients.


Note: Vitamin D comes to us via sunlight, so unless you live in a cold, dark climate, it’s relatively easy to obtain. In lieu of moving to a sunnier spot, and with current quarantines widespread, ask your doc about taking a Vitamin D supplement. Also, there are light fixtures that may provide sufficient Vitamin D.


Also, studies have proven that sugars suppress the immune system, so avoid processed sugar. Use maple syrup, or agave instead.


4—Peripheral ways to boost your immune system:


Exercise: A study of 1,509 men and women aged 20–60 found that more

vigorous physical activity was associated with a lower incidence of upper respiratory tract infections. This is important because the Coronavirus targets the lungs, and its effects are more debilitating in older people, especially those with reduced lung capacity.


The other way exercise benefits the immune system is that it reduces serum cortisol levels. Cortisol is our ‘stress’ hormone, and its presence reduces our immune system function.


Finally, exercise raises body temperature, and this elevation of temp may help fight certain viruses.

Sleep: Let your body rejuvenate. When we sleep our bodies make and release cytokines, proteins that target inflammation. Plus, while we’re sleeping we can’t reach for the ice cream!





1— Gibson A, Edgar JD, Neville CE, Gilchrist SE, McKinley MC, Patterson CC, Young IS, Woodside JV. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2012.


2—Santos M. Immunological effects of low-fat diets with and without weight loss. Journal of the American College of Nutrition.


3—Josling, P. Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement. Advances in Therapy.


4—Matsumoto, K., Yamada, H., Takuma, N., Niino, H., & Sagesaka, Y. M. Effects of Green Tea Catechins and Theanine on Preventing Influenza Infection... BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.


5—M. A. Skinner. Kiwifruit for Immune Support and Reducing Symptoms of Colds and Influenza. Journal of Food and Drug Analysis.


6—Moro, C., Palacios, I., Lozano, M., D’Arrigo, M., Guillamón, E., Villares, A., … García-Lafuente, A. (2012). Anti-inflammatory activity of methanolic extracts from edible mushrooms. Food Chemistry.


7—Fondell E, Lagerros YT, Sundberg CJ, Lekander M, Balter O, Rothman KJ, et al. Physical activity, stress, and self-reported upper respiratory tract infection. Medical Science Sports Exercise. https://cutt.ly/5tmChTf



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