In the midst of a global pandemic, many of us are looking for options to stay healthy. Did you know that one of the best ways to improve your health is through what you eat? Gut health equals overall health, after all. And eating for immunity is even easier when you’re living a plant-based life. The right macros will help you boost your overall health—no matter what the world brings our way.
Knowing a bit about how your body fights infection helps to understand the basis of immunity. There are two types of immunity: innate and adaptive.
Innate immunity is the body’s nonspecific defense mechanisms that occur immediately or within hours of being exposed to some kind of attack, technically referred to as an antigen. These defense mechanisms include the skin, mucus, stomach acid, chemicals in the blood, and immune system cells.
Adaptive immunity is the antigen-specific immune response. More complex than the innate immunity, the adaptive immune system launches an attack on the antigen with an army of immune cells. One key benefit of adaptive immunity is that it creates a memory to recognize and more efficiently attack specific antigens in the future.
In a healthy person, immunity works well naturally without even thinking about it. However, there are things that can diminish our natural immunity, including aging, environmental toxins, obesity, poor diet, chronic disease or mental stress, and lack of sleep.
Eating for Immunity: The Key Is Diet
A balanced diet is extremely important for your overall health. Any nutrition plan that severely limits nutrition will ultimately do you—and your body—a disservice. You want to include a variety of different types of foods. Focus on whole foods, as opposed to processed options.
Your plate should include a mix of fruits and vegetables, protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. Avoid foods that are high in sugar, including beverages, as well as those nasty processed options.
Why do you need a balanced diet?
It all goes back to the macros.
The Right Macros for Your Body
When we talk about macros, we mean macronutrients. Those include protein, carbohydrates (carbs), and fats.
Carbs are a major source of energy for our bodies. There are two carb types: simple and complex. Most of us tend to gravitate toward simple carbs, such as glucose, fructose, lactose, and sucrose. These are, essentially, sugars. However, sugars aren’t the optimal carbs to have, nor are they very healthy. Instead, your diet should include roughly 40% complex carbohydrates, some examples of which are oats, beans, quinoa, potatoes, and rice.
When you eat too many simple carbs, your body may be put into a constant state of inflammation. While inflammation is a natural state in response to cell trauma, too much over a prolonged period of time can lead to severe health issues.
You’ve probably heard of protein referred to as the building blocks of life. Your body needs protein to live and function; after all, it powers most of the daily functions of your body. Protein is used by your body as enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. These powerful macros build muscles, skin, teeth, bone, and immune cells.
No wonder protein is so important when eating for immunity!
You may be quick to discount fats in your diet, but science proves how pertinent those healthy fats are for your cells. Healthy fats, including nuts and avocados, are your most concentrated source of energy. But not all fats are equal in your body’s eyes. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids provide protection for your heart and nerves, as well as metabolism and immunity. However, saturated fat and trans fats actually damage your organs, so limit those.
How a Plant-based Diet Helps Immunity
At Vegan Taste, we believe that a plant-based lifestyle is absolutely the healthiest option for your life. It lends itself perfectly to a habit of eating for immunity because you naturally get a great mix of macros that are needed to boost your immune response. Plus, the food we make is delicious!
A well-balanced plant-based meal is composed of everything nutritionists suggest: protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. When you eat that kind of a diet and live that kind of lifestyle, you’ll naturally be eating for immunity.
Check out this week’s menu to see what we’re eating.