When it comes to the food we eat, it is organic, plant-based food that is the healthiest. Vegetable foods contain many antioxidants that are effective against pathogens. Another reason is that the wrong kind of cholesterol and too much fat weakens the immune system. These are the typical ingredients of animal foods. Vegetable foods contain no harmful cholesterol. The fat content of what grows in nature is well balanced and healthy. That is why we should eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Some vitamins that are often recommended for boosting the immune system are also found mainly in plant foods – especially in organic quality plants. Among these we would like to mention vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamins B1 and B6 and folic acid. Folic acid also belongs to the B vitamins and plays a crucial role in the immune system. Where is it mainly found? Green leafy vegetables (such as spinach) are a particularly good natural source, and that’s where the name folic acid comes from. Folium is the Latin word for the “leaves” of plants. Other sources of the recommended vitamins are legumes, tomatoes, potatoes, nuts, oranges, sprouts, whole grain products, wheat germ, soybeans – in other words, all plant-based foods. The beneficial vitamin B6 is also found in all these plant-based foods, so no animal products are needed.
Minerals such as iron, copper, cobalt, zinc, magnesium and selenium also need to be present in diets aimed at strengthening the immune system. These are also found in sufficient quantities in plant-based foods. For example, the food that contains the most selenium is Brazil nuts. A lack of these minerals can weaken the immune system. Note that it is better to consume these in the form of plant foods than to constantly take multivitamin supplements or the like.
Wholemeal products, as already mentioned, are high in carbohydrates and very healthy. You may therefore be thinking: “How nice, then I eat a lot of sugar (sweets etc.), that’s also carbohydrates.” But if you do, you are completely wrong. Since whole grain products contain complex carbohydrates while household sugar consists of simple carbohydrates, there is a big difference. For example, what causes a weakening of the immune system is a high consumption of this white sugar – in addition to its other harmful effects – because it paralyses the activity of the defence cells in the blood. The more complex the carbohydrates, the more beneficial they are for the immune system. They are good for the immune system because the fiber in them also strengthens the antiviral immune system by activating T-killer cells. But when the complexity is reduced to simple carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour, the opposite effect occurs. Simple carbohydrates are also called empty carbohydrates because they simply lack beneficial properties and useful nutrients. Another factor that promotes the immune system in plant-based foods is the so-called phytochemicals. These are the various pigments in plants, the things that give them color. And these also act as protective substances. Eating lots of its colorful natural products is also called the “rainbow diet” – because there are so many different colors in plant foods. Garlic is also recommended. Garlic strengthens the immune system and is effective against viruses. Oregano is another herb recommended for strengthening the immune system. In addition, ginger is classified as a natural virus inhibitor because the root is high in vitamin C, iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium, as well as essential oils and other substances that improve blood circulation.
Another antiviral plant is olive leaf. A tea made from olive leaves can be very helpful if you already have an infection. Another tea that is highly recommended against viral and bacterial infections is tea made from hoary rockrose (Latin: Cistus incanus). You should drink a cup of this tea several times a day to benefit from its beneficial properties. The plant’s protective substances can render viruses and bacteria harmless by enveloping them and thus preventing them from entering the cells. Watercress is also highly recommended as a natural antibiotic – due to the antibiotically active mustard oils it contains.