Protecting Ourselves With Plants

Protecting Ourselves With Plants

I am humbled every day by the times we are currently living through. It’s scary, it’s unsettling, it’s sad. Sometimes it’s horrifying. But it’s also heartening to see people pulling together, helping each other out, caring for each other. It’s uplifting to see images of places around the globe where people are seeing clear skies for the first time in decades. It’s encouraging to hear some people talking and thinking not about “getting back to normal” but about how we can use this disruption to move into a future that is more sustainable, more equitable, and more compassionate. It’s inspiring to see how the business community is shifting and reinventing itself to create what is needed in this new reality we are facing.

Hearts have become a symbol of connection in the midst of the Corona Virus outbreak.

We are connected…

It has never been more apparent how connected we all are, and though we may not all be exposed in the same way to this threat (e.g. some of us are in the front lines, and some of us are able to self-isolate at home), every one of us is affected by its many-faceted fallout. And though some of us may be more vulnerable than others, none of us is immune to the threat of the virus itself. There is no guarantee that even the healthiest of people won’t fall victim to COVID-19.

However, what has become equally apparent is why it is SO important for each of us to do everything we can to be as healthy as possible. This means not just following public health recommendations to properly wash our hands, practice physical distancing, self-isolate when necessary, etc. It means setting ourselves up for good quality sleep, finding an effective outlet for stress, getting some exercise and movement into every day, connecting with others (even if virtually) and, importantly, eating foods that will help you to be as healthy as possible.

Healthy foods are one of the best ways we can protect ourselves and build an optimal immune system.

Healthy habits are significant

Granted, even doing all these things does not make us immune to the virus – or anything else for that matter. But mindfully including as many healthy habits as we can WILL help to address underlying health conditions known to exacerbate the situation if one does contract the virus (there’s no time like the present to start!) And similarly, being healthy gives us a much better chance of fighting and surviving insults when we encounter them.

So before you reach for the white flour and sugar to bake up a storm (which unfortunately seems to be “a thing” right now as people have time on their hands), redirect and reach for the beans/lentils, the cruciferous veggies, the fruits and vegetables and the whole grains instead. THESE are the foods we should be eating every day for to keep ourselves strong and healthy, so pack them in as often as you can!

More resources for you

Over the past month I have been doing weekly live Facebook sessions about foods to keep the immune system strong, and I want to share a few of those tips, as well as a recipe, with you here. If you’re interested in joining the live sessions you can find them here each Friday at 4 pm PST: www.facebook.com/plantbasedrhn

If you’d like to check out the recorded versions of the 4 that have already happened, here are the links:

Friday, April 10: Batch it Baby! Tips to get more beans into your life
Friday, April 3: Come Get Your Oats On!
Friday, March 27: Making Homemade Sauerkraut
Foods To Optimize Your Immune System

And now, on to some specific tips:

  1. First up, the MOST important thing is to focus on eating a varied whole foods plant-based diet on a daily basis. There are a few foods that are particularly protective, but you do need that base layer of a healthy WFPB diet for optimal protection. That means beans/legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables with some raw nuts and seeds. Avoid or limit refined and processed foods like oils, flours (especially white), sugar and vegan junk foods.
  2. LOAD UP on cruciferous veggies like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and cauliflower – this family has powerful immune-boosting properties that help activate your defenses against pathogens like viruses.
  3. LOAD UP on fiber-rich foods like whole grains and beans/lentils since they help to feed our helpful gut bacteria, which are an important part of a healthy immune system.
  4. LOAD UP on mushrooms, which contain compounds that enhance the activity and function of Natural Killer T cells, which can detect and disarm damaged/infected cells in our bodies. (Note that blueberries also increase Natural Killer T cell activity, so get those in too!)
  5. LOAD UP on fruit (especially those rich in vitamin C – like citrus and berries — which bolsters immune function, as well as the phytonutrient resveratrol – like grapes and blueberries – which is known to inhibit the replication of viruses).
  6. LOAD UP on garlic and get some zinc-rich foods in, like pumpkin seeds. Both garlic and zinc are known to be protective against colds and flu (however, note that zinc excess can impair immunity, so better to stick to food rather than supplements).

Eat well, stay well, be well.

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