Whether you’re smack-dab in the middle of a pandemic, like the current one, or you just want extra protection during flu season, strengthening your immune system is a must if you want to prevent disease and infection. Thank goodness that so many of the vegan foods we love feed two birds with one scone: Not only are they deliciously satisfying, they also may boost the immune system. Humans have been using animal-friendly herbal remedies for eons, and you can, too! The foods listed below will give your health a boost and are surprisingly simple to make (perfect for when you’re quarantining at home)—but we’ve made it even easier by including a YouTube tutorial for each.
Discover how the food you eat can double as the medicine that keeps you healthy.
1. How to Make Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry syrup is packed with antioxidants and vitamins that boost your immune system. But some store-bought syrups contain honey, which worker bees (female honeybees who build and protect their hive) worked hard to make. No, thanks! To make your own elderberry syrup, you’ll need dried elderberries, ginger powder, cinnamon, water, and a honey-free sweetener like agave nectar or brown rice syrup. Follow The Sparkle Nest’s recipe and video:
2. What Is Switchel?
If you love kombucha, you’ll love switchel. Sometimes referred to as “haymaker’s punch,” switchel is a tonic made with ginger, vinegar, and water that’s easy to customize. For example, some people like to add lemongrass, which adds flavor and is said to be an immune booster. Make a big batch over the weekend and enjoy mugs of switchel all week long. Try this recipe—which calls for apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, fresh ginger, turmeric, water, and lime—from Buddha-Full TV:
3. This Shot Won’t Leave You Hungover
Ginger has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, making it a staple in immune-boosting recipes. Consider adding a concentrated shot of ginger to your daily routine. To make your own shots at home, you’ll need some fresh ginger, a blender, and something that a lot of vegans already have: a nut milk bag! Follow along with this recipe tutorial from Thrive Cuisine and discover how easy making your own ginger shots is:
4. The Health Benefits of Kimchi
Nutrient- and probiotic-dense kimchi (salted, seasoned, and fermented veggies) is not only good for your gut but also “beneficial for immune function because the majority of immune function takes place in the gut,” according to dietician and health coach Jessica Cording. Get your gut and immune system in shape with some Korean spicy sauerkraut. Try this Easy Kimchi recipe, courtesy of The Happy Pear:
5. Make Your Immune System Say, ‘You’ve Made Miso Very Happy’
Like kimchi, miso is a fermented food (made from fermented soybeans, to be precise) and high in probiotics, making it great for immune support. According to experts, a diet rich in probiotics can help you recover faster from the common cold and other infections. So grab yourself some broth, tofu, seaweed, miso, and a giant bowl—you’ll want to make The Minimalist Baker’s 15-minute miso soup again and again:
6. Vegan Bone Broth
While some claim that consuming bone broth (aka “carcass soup”) has health benefits, many scientists disagree—and suggest using a vegan approach, which actually works. Since vegetables like celery, carrots, onions, mushrooms, and garlic have immune-boosting properties, there’s no excuse for using the bones, skin, cartilage, ligaments, or tendons of violently killed cows (who communicate with other cows via subtle facial movements) and chickens (who dream and experience rapid eye movement during sleep, just like us) as soup ingredients. So forget skeleton bisque and opt instead for this delicious vegan broth, courtesy of Bon Appétit editor Andy Baraghani:
7. Make a Fruity Ginger-Turmeric Syrup
Fresh ginger, turmeric, and lemongrass help to make a fruity, tasty concoction—one that may ward off colds with its powerful immune-boosting properties. Check out the full vegan recipe and video tutorial from Peanut & Pepper:
8. Smoothies: Your Flu Season BFF
You can throw almost anything into a blender and call it a smoothie, which makes the drink a great way to “eat” your veggies and strengthen your immune system. This recipe from Natural Cures includes carrot, ginger, turmeric, lemon, pineapple, banana, and almond milk—so not only will it be your flu season sidekick, it’ll also delight your taste buds.
9. How to Make Vegan Borscht
You might be wondering, “What is borscht?” We can thank eastern Europeans for this delicious, nutrient-packed red soup. Popular in Russian and Polish cultures, borscht is made with—you guessed it—beets (which are a good source of vitamin C and other antioxidants) as well as cabbage, potatoes, and other veggies. This recipe from Veggie Touch is easy to make and delicious topped with a dollop of vegan sour cream.
10. Fudgy Sweet Potato Brownies FTW
Yes, even dessert can help boost your health, thanks to two very special ingredients in this recipe: sweet potatoes and cocoa. Sweet potatoes are full of vitamin A, while both ingredients are packed with other antioxidants. Try these decadent gluten-free, vegan Fudgy Sweet Potato Brownies from the Minimalist Baker:
Eating flesh from blood-soaked slaughterhouses is a surefire way to increase your risk of making yourself sick—either from a zoonotic pathogen, like antibiotic-resistant bacteria or salmonella, or from your own reflection in the mirror (because once you realize who you’ve been eating, you’ll be disgusted with yourself). But being vegan reduces your risk of suffering from countless ailments, such as heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. Plus, going vegan is the kindest thing that you can do for other animals and planet Earth. So what are you waiting for? Start your vegan journey today …
… and encourage your loved ones to do the same!
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