There’s never been a time to be more critical of what we’re eating. As a mom, hockey trainer and fitness enthusiast, I’m often searching for the best bang for my buck- how do I nourish my family and ensure we’re not missing any important nutrients and minerals, especially now, during these phased-in pandemic times.
I chatted with Registered Nutritionist and Vega Education Specialist, Nicola Anderson to break it down so that we can feel more in control of our own health and wellness. Vega is a leader in plant-based protein supplements that enable you to feel and perform your best. Everything at Vega is vegan certified, gluten-free, and free of artificial flavours and preservatives.
Libby Roach– Does a plant-based diet provide enough nutrients to support a healthy immune system?
Nicola Anderson– Absolutely! Eating a plant-based diet can provide your body with the nutrients, antioxidants, and dietary fibers it needs. You want to focus on foods like colorful, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables that are a great source of vitamins and minerals to help support your immune system. Think citrus fruits, root vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, superfoods. Choosing whole, unprocessed foods is great for overall health. Supplementing with essential vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A and D can also be a great way to help support your immune system.
LR- What foods can we add to our daily nutrition to help support our immune system?
NA– There’s a lot of choice out there but here are my top six antioxidant-rich foods are:
Citrus fruit: Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which is a key nutrient for your immune system function.
Blueberries: Blueberries contain flavonoids—a type of antioxidant that can help reduce oxidative stress to cells.
Brassica Vegetables (kale, cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts): These cruciferous vegetables are full of vitamins A, C, E, and the antioxidant glutathione as well as plenty of fibre.
Sweet potatoes: Specifically, purple ones are rich in antioxidant vitamins A and C which can help protect from oxidative stress. Like carrots, these are also packed with beta-carotene, which in your body that turns into vitamin A.
Spinach: Is an extremely nutritious vegetable. It’s rich in core nutrients and phytochemicals. Major micronutrients are vitamins A, C, K and folate as well as minerals calcium, iron, and potassium, and provides fibre.
Dark chocolate: I knew you’ve love this one! The darker the chocolate, the higher levels of flavonoids it contains, which are a class of antioxidants that can protect our cells from oxidative stress.
At Vega we offer products to compliment your daily nutrition and can help support the immune system. My kitchen is always stocked with Vega as well as the antioxidant-rich foods mentioned above. Increasing my intake and awareness of these foods in the colder months helps me to stay in control of my own health and wellness.
LR– What vitamins/minerals are best in supporting our immunity system?
When considering the power of plants to support your immune system, a whole-food, plant-based diet will offer you a good source of micronutrients, and there are some that are specific ones you might want to focus on. We all know Vitamin C is a vital antioxidant that helps supports the immune system, but also consider Vitamin A as it supports white blood cell production. A Vitamin B Complex is one I’d recommend as B’s are essential for cell function. Zinc, as well, is involved in multiple aspects of the immune system, and lastly, Selenium is an antioxidant that helps neutralizes free radicals.
LR– Does lifestyle play a role in supporting our immune system?
NA- Lifestyle can play a very important role when it comes to supporting our immune system. We’ve talked about the importance of paying attention to good quality nutrition but it’s also important to learn how to reduce daily stressors and manage chronic stress. As well we want to ensure we get enough sleep at night, staying hydrated, and making time in our day to break a sweat.
LR- Are Vega products beneficial in supporting our immune system/What Vega products do you recommend for supporting a healthy immune system?
NA- Oh, we got you covered! Vega has some great products you’ll want to check out when considering complimenting your daily nutrition. Our top 3 formulations for supporting your immune system are Vega One® All-in-One, which is our flagship product, our Vega One® Organic All-in-One Shake, which is Pro-Cert certified, and Vega® Essentials. All provide you with a good source of Antioxidant Vitamin C & Vitamin A which contributes to the normal function of the immune system. For those days when you’re working up a sweat, you’ll certainly want to check out our Vega Sport® Line. We got an array of products from pre-workouts, to hydrators, as well as products focused on helping recovery and repairing of muscles. Two of my favourites are the Vega Sport® Pre-Workout and the Vega Sport® Recovery. All these products can be found on MyVega.ca
While there’s a lot our immune system is doing to keep us healthy behind the scenes, there’s also a lot we can do as our part to be in control of our health and wellness. Always listen to your body—it’s awfully intelligent and gives us a lot of warning signs. And if you have any concerns, it’s always a good idea to check in with your health practitioner for medical advice.
All photos by Libby Roach.