With the ongoing second-wave of the pandemic and the expected third-wave, it has become increasingly important to protect ourselves against it. Apart from all of the other safety measures which we can take, including wearing a mask while traveling to crowded places, avoiding crowded places or washing our hands with soap at regular intervals, one should also focus on building their immunity. A good immune system can help you fight off any virus or infection. One of the best ways to build your immunity is nutrition but before we get into that, let’s understand what Immunity is.
What Is Immunity?
As the old adage goes, ‘Prevention is better than Cure’. Build a good immune system to prevent disease. The Immune system is an amazing protection mechanism situated inside every human body. It is designed to defend you against millions of bacteria, microbes, viruses, toxins and parasites that love to invade the body. To understand the power of the immune system, all that one needs to do is to look at what happens to a living being when it dies. This might sound gross but it does tell us all something very important about our immune system.
When something dies, its immune system (along with everything else) shuts down. In a matter of hours, the body is invaded by all sorts of bacteria, microbes, and parasites. None of these things are able to get in when the immune system is strong, but the moment the immune system stops, the door is wide open for diseases to breed. Once you die, it only takes a few weeks for these organisms to completely dismantle your body and carry it away, until all that’s left is a skeleton. So safely, one can conclude that a strong immune system keeps all of that dismantling from happening when one is alive.
The immune system is complex, intricate and interesting. And there are at least two good reasons for every individual to know more about it. First, it is just plain fascinating to understand where things like fever, hives, inflammation, etc. come from when they happen inside your own body. You also hear a lot about the immune system in the news as new parts of it are understood and new drugs come in the market — knowing about the immune system makes these news stories understandable.
Now that we have understood what the Immune System is, I would like to take you through how the immune system works and how the immune system can be boosted with a proper diet.
Foods That Can Help You Build Your Immune System
It takes at least more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away. One should ensure that your body and the immune system function smoothly by rounding out your food plate with plenty of colorful servings of fruits and veggies, plus 8 to 10 glasses of water a day, at the very least. The following ingredients can add that extra virus-fighting punch to your meal plan.
Probiotics, or the “live active cultures” found in Yogurts are the healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs, although they’re available in supplement form. A study from the University of Vienna in Austria found that a daily 7 ounce dose of yogurt was just as effective in boosting immunity as popping pills.
Your optimal dose: 2 servings of 150gm each in a day.
2. Oats and Barley
These grains contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities more potent than Echinacea, reports a Norwegian study. When animals eat this compound, they’re less likely to contract influenza, herpes, even anthrax; in humans, it boosts immunity, speeds wound healing, and may help antibiotics work better.
Your optimal dose: At least one in your three daily servings of whole grains.
This potent onion relative contains the active ingredient Allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. British researchers gave 146 people either a placebo or a garlic extract for 12 weeks; the garlic takers were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. Other studies suggest that garlic lovers who chew more than six cloves a week have a 30 per cent lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50 per cent lower rate of stomach cancer.
Your optimal dose: Two raw garlic cloves a day and add crushed garlic to your cooking several times a week.
People who drank 5 cups a day of black tea for 2 weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than others who drank a placebo hot drink, according to a Harvard study. The amino acid that’s responsible for this immune boost, L-theanine, is abundant in both black and green tea—decaf versions have it too.
Your optimal dose: Drink in moderation. Recommended 2 cups a day. To get more antioxidants from your tea bags, bob them up and down while you brew.
Selenium, plentiful in shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams, helps white blood cells produce cytokines—proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body. Salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation, increasing airflow and protecting lungs from colds and respiratory infections.
Your optimal dose: Two servings a week (unless you’re pregnant or planning to be).
For centuries, people around the world have turned to mushrooms for a healthy immune system. According to experts and several studies, mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This is a good thing when you have an infection.
Your optimal dose: Shiitake, Maitake, and Reishi mushrooms appear to pack the biggest immunity punch; experts recommend at least ¼ ounce to an ounce a few times a day for maximum immune benefits. Add a handful to pasta sauce, or sauté with a little oil and add to eggs
7. Citrus Fruits :
When you catch a cold, it is recommended that we should have Vitamin C. as it helps build up your immune system. Vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells and these are key to fighting infections. Some popular citrus fruits include oranges, grapefruit, Kiwi and lemons. Because your body doesn’t produce or store it, you need daily vitamin C for continued health. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. With such a variety to choose from, it’s easy to add a squeeze of this vitamin to any meal. Doctors have been recommending Vitamin C during this time of widespread infections
Your Optional Dose: Vitamin C supplement is recommended. But, before taking any supplement consult your doctor.
The above foods have proven to have boosted individuals’ immune system and produce more white cells in the body. Eat healthy and build your immune system. It will help you fight against all illnesses including the Coronavirus (COVID-19). So what are you waiting for? Get on the path of healthy eating and keep your immune system active and more energetic than ever.
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