The winter flu coupled with the ongoing pandemic isn’t a very desirable combination. If you’re too worried about that cough or cold being a symptom of COVID-19, you need to boost your immunity this season! Being we get to the foods which can boost your immunity, let’s understand what immunity is all about!
What Is Immunity?
It is a condition of being able to resist a particular disease, especially by preventing the development of pathogenic microorganisms or by counteracting the effects of its products. The Immune system consists of organs, cells, tissues and proteins – together they carry out bodily processes that fight off pathogens (viruses, bacteria and foreign bodies that cause infection or disease). When our immune system comes into contact with a pathogen, it triggers an immune response. The immune system releases antibodies which attach to the antigen or pathogen and kill them.
In simple terms, immunity is the strength to fight and ward off viruses and bacteria which make us weak and ill. It’s the 1st line of defence. To build immunity, we have to choose a healthy lifestyle with:
- Regular exercise
- Healthy and nutritious food
- Staying well hydrated
- Good quality sleep
- Stress management
- Avoid smoking and alcohol
- Avoid processed, canned, preserved and refined food
Magical Foods That Can Help Boost Your Immunity
While the above certainly help you boost your immunity, here are a few magical foods that can help you as well.
- Fruits: are packed with vitamins and minerals. They are a rich source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A which play a very important role in building immunity. They are packed with antioxidants. Citrus fruits like Orange, grapefruit, Sweet Lime, lemon as well as kiwi, papaya and all types of berries are the best. To get the best of fruits, we should always consume seasonal and locally grown fruits. 2-3 serving of fruits are recommended per day if there is no restriction.
- Vegetables: like green leafy veg, broccoli, red bell pepper are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Green leafy vegetables are packed with fiber and water. They are loaded with Vitamin A, C and K. Calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium are the minerals which we can get from them. They are also good sources of phytochemicals like litein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene which revitalize our health. In fact, Broccoli is supercharged with vitamins A, C and E. It has sulforaphane which is an antioxidant. It has good amounts of fiber which supports the immune system. Red bell pepper has good amounts of Vitamin C which can be compared to Citrus fruits. If anyone wants a good amount of Vitamin C with fruit sugar (Fructose), bell peppers are the best option. It is also a good source of Beta carotene (which gets converted into Vitamin A). Along with helping boost your immunity, it also improves your skin and eye health.
- Nuts and Seeds: are good sources of good fat/omega 3 fatty acids and have protein and antioxidants in it along with Vitamin E minerals. In nuts and seeds, almonds and sunflower seeds help you boost your immunity. Vitamin E is fat soluble and almonds have plenty of it! Sunflower seeds are great sources of phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, Vitamin B-6 and E. Vitamin E is very important in regulating and maintaining the immune system.
- Roots like Ginger and Garlic: Ginger is anti-inflammatory and antioxidative in nature, hence it helps in preventing illnesses. Certain chemical compounds in ginger helps our body ward off germs. Both fresh and dried ginger are good to build immunity. Garlic is used in home remedies for common cough and cold and other illnesses. It has allicin in it which helps to lower down the blood pressure, cholesterol and helps in heart health.
- Green Tea: is packed with flavonoids and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which are antioxidants. In studies, it’s shown that ECGC helps boost your immunity. Green tea also contains L-theanine which is an amino acid that helps in the production of germ fighting compounds called T-cells, which reduce inflammation in the body and helps fight infections.
- Dark Chocolate: The Cocoa found in dark chocolate can strengthen the defence of our immune system. Dark chocolate may help fight a stubborn cough. It contains an antioxidant called theobromine, which may help boost your immunity by protecting the body’s cells from free radicals. But dark chocolate is high in calories and saturated fat, so it is important to maintain portion control.
These are the few foods which help boost your immunity. With these, there are many more foods that help us, such as amla, haridra, neem, tulsi and ashwagandha. They are known to strengthen the immune function. As with all foods, you need to maintain portion control. Before you try any of the above foods, check with your doctor, dietitian or nutritionist.