Food is the best remedy and the worst poison. And the secret lies in the choices we make. Food is much more than the fuel for your body. It can make you or break you. That’s why it is very important to feed your gut nutrient-dense meals. After the onset of Covid-19, how to increase immunity is one question that is on top of everyone’s mind. This pandemic has made everyone realise the importance of strong immunity and of eating immunity-boosting foods.
While the external environment we inhabit is not under our control, we can work on our body’s internal functions. After all, a strong immune system keeps infections at bay and helps in faster healing and recovery.
That's why we’re listing some of the powerful immunity-boosting foods that we can add to our daily diet.
1. Poultry – Chicken and Eggs
Poultry products such as chicken and eggs are rich sources of protein. They function as immune boosters with the amino acid content, which strengthens the defence cells of the body i.e. lymphocytes, cytokines, and phagocytes.
Egg Yolk is also rich in Vitamin D that has an important role to play in balancing the immune system. Low levels of vitamin D is associated with increased body susceptibility to cold and flu infections.
2. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits that boost immunity are amla, lemon, orange and grapefruit. Ascorbic acid, commonly known as Vitamin C, in citrus fruits, helps in various bio-chemical reactions and cellular functions associated with the immune defence mechanism of the human body. It improves the functions of certain white blood cells(WBC) to prevent and fight infection. Since it is an antioxidant as well, it helps in fighting free radicals and decreasing inflammation, hence one of the best immune boosters.
Strawberry, blueberries and blackberries are known as immune-boosting superfoods because of the presence of flavonoids that reduce cell damage. Anthocyanins present in the berries increase the body’s immunity by boosting the production of cytokines.
4. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, bok choy, kohlrabi, and brussel sprouts are known to release chemical signals that are necessary for a fully functioning immune system. These vegetables also contain beta-carotene, folate, vitamins C, E and K and phytochemicals which have immune-optimising effects.
Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and pistachios are important immune system boosters.
a. Almonds are rich in Vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant that protects cell damage caused by free radicals. Excess free radicals are responsible for frequent illnesses.
b. Walnuts are a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids which possess anti-inflammatory properties and immune-regulatory functions.
c. Pistachios power the body's defence mechanism as they are rich in Vitamin B6, folate, minerals, polyphenols and phytochemicals that increase the activity of immune cells and lower inflammation.
Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds are rich in zinc, magnesium, copper, selenium, phosphorous and potassium. These minerals catalyse the response of WBCs to viral infections and reduce the length of infection. They are also proven antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties too.
7. Ancient Medicinal Herbs
They serve as the immune booster foods in India. Let’s understand the phenomenon of how to increase immunity power by these super-powerful herbs-
- Tulsi - Consumption of this sacred herb on an empty stomach can increase the immune response of the body many folds. Medical research on this herb has revealed that tulsi has immunomodulatory properties, where it can strengthen a weak immune system and control a hyperactive immune system.
- Turmeric - None of us has escaped from our granny’s golden milk/turmeric milk whether it is cold and flu infection or pain or wound. Well, these grannies knew how to improve immunity well in advance! The compound curcumin in turmeric has anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects. It also increases the antibody response.
- Garlic- The organosulfur and some other compounds in garlic helps enhance immune system functioning. Garlic also has beneficial properties against microbial infections, and it also exhibits anticarcinogenic and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Ginger- Gingerol, shogaol and some other compounds present in ginger inhibit inflammation and boost the immune system. Sip some ginger tea to soothe your system and you are all set to keep the infections far away.
- Giloy- The antioxidants present in giloy helps in fighting off the free radicals and disease-causing microbes. Also, the antipyretic and anti-inflammatory properties of this herb help to fight off the chronic fevers.