The recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus has thrown the lives of people across the world at a standstill. According to doctors and scientists, the best defense against coronavirus is a healthy immune system that can fight off the virus.
While maintaining a balanced diet and getting regular exercise helps keep your immune system strong, there are certain foods that contain essential nutrients and minerals that can help your body fight off pathogens, which are bacteria. And there are foreign bodies, such as viruses, that cause infection or disease.
Our immune system consists of proteins, tissues and organs that carry out bodily processes and fight harmful viruses. When our body comes into contact with a pathogen, our immune system triggers an immune response that releases antibodies that help kill the virus. Therefore, adding certain foods to your diet can be helpful in warding off deadly viruses including the novel coronavirus.
These immune-boosting foods are rich in antioxidants and other nutrients that help keep cells active and healthy. Sadly, these days most people do not eat such nutrient-rich foods, which increases the chances of many diseases and ailments.
In addition, you have to understand that You cannot just eat one specific food and expect a rapid increase in immunity, A truly healthy immune system depends on a well-adjusted combination of minerals and vitamins over time, in addition to regular exercise and a normal sleep pattern.
Along with that, let us discuss the top foods that you should include in your daily diet if you want to maintain a healthy immune system.
10 foods that will help build immunity
While there are many health supplements available that contain the daily dose of minerals and vitamins your body needs, it is recommended to get them through natural food sources as much as possible. Following are the best foods to consider for boosting immunity:
Green leafy vegetables like spinach are rich in iron and vitamin C. They are essential for producing fresh blood and keeping blood impurities away. In addition, spinach is rich in nutrients like beta-carotene and antioxidants that improve your body’s disease-fighting ability. Thus, adding spinach to your diet can help keep your immune system healthy. You can include spinach in many dishes.
However, make sure the leaves are properly cooked, as raw spinach can be difficult for some people to digest. Spinach must be included in your kids’ diet as it provides them with essential nutrients to develop and safeguard a healthy immune system.
Turmeric is a spice that has been a part of Indian cooking for centuries. Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties which help in treating inflammation of muscles and bones.
Most importantly, turmeric contains an active ingredient called curcumin which is a good modulator of the immune system. Several studies have reported that curcumin can modulate the proliferation and activation of T cells, and inhibit oxidative stress-induced inflammation.
Ginger is a great food with great anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger is a popular spice that can help reduce inflammatory problems as well as treat sore throats.
Ginger has antiviral properties and can also improve digestion, and help maintain a healthy gut, thereby strengthening the immune system.
#4 Citrus fruits
Last but not least, citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruits, and tangerines are packed with vitamin C which helps in increasing the production of white blood cells in the body.
White blood cells are essential for fighting diseases and infections. It also helps remove free radicals from the body, preventing cell damage, which ultimately reduces your chances of getting cancer.
Of all the nuts, almonds have the highest amount of Vitamin E which plays an important role in keeping the immune system healthy. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that is needed by fats to be absorbed properly.
Almonds contain healthy fats that facilitate the process of absorption. Vitamin E aids in the production of red blood cells which increases blood flow to all parts of the body. This keeps your immune system strong.
You are advised to eat 4-6 almonds daily. You can eat it whole or soak it in water or add some crushed almonds to your milk for a delicious milkshake.
Yogurt is considered a probiotic that is essential for the health of your immune system. It directly affects your gut, which helps the good bacteria to thrive. Your gut health is directly linked to your immune system. Therefore, a healthy gut means a healthy immune system. While there are many delicious yogurts available in the market, you are advised to eat plain yogurt.
Plain yogurt is free from any sugars, additives and artificial flavors that can spoil the overall quality of the food. The best way to consume yogurt is plain or with rice, or you can drizzle some honey and add your favorite fruits to it.
Kiwi is a fruit that is rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium and folate. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and prevent cell damage.
It also helps increase the production of infection-fighting white blood cells. You can consume kiwi daily. The fruit contains tiny seeds which are edible and also rich in nutrients. You can eat it alone, add it to fruit salads, or make it into a smoothie—the options are endless.
Like kiwi, papaya is naturally rich in essential nutrients and minerals like folate, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. The potassium in papaya is known to keep the heart healthy.
At the same time, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant that increases the production of white blood cells that help fight infections and ward off diseases.
#9 Green Tea
Green tea has excellent antioxidant properties that help the body to detoxify toxins and other harmful substances. Green tea contains a powerful antioxidant called EGCG or epigallocatechin that has been shown to boost immune system function.
Green tea, because it is not fully processed, retains most of its nutrients and minerals back in the leaves. Experts suggest that you should consume 3-4 cups of green tea in a day as it will not only keep you hydrated but will also help in flushing out toxins and other waste material from the body keeping the immune system healthy.
#10 Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are packed with nutrients and minerals, including vitamin E, vitamin B-6, magnesium and phosphorus. Vitamin E is considered a powerful antioxidant that is beneficial for the health of the immune system.
The best part about sunflower seeds is that it also enhances the taste of the food you are preparing due to its spicy punch. You can add sunflower seeds to your salads, soups, seasonings of certain foods like chicken, for frying, and much more.
3 simple recipes that will help build immunity
Now that you understand the best immunity-boosting foods, let us discuss some recipes that will help you in this process.
Chicken and Turmeric Soup
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 2 large carrots peeled and chopped
- 1 cup broccoli chopped
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 boneless skinless chicken breast sliced
- 2 tsp chopped coriander
- 1 tsp turmeric powder or freshly ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
- 1/2 tsp salt to taste
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup spinach leaves chopped
- Heat ghee in a pan on medium heat.
- Add the onions and fry for 2-3 minutes, while stirring occasionally.
- Add carrots, broccoli and garlic and continue to fry for 2 minutes.
- Add shredded chicken and cook just long enough to brown the meat, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add rest of the ingredients except coconut milk and mix well and cover. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for at least 30 minutes.
- Add coconut milk and serve hot.
immunity boosting drink
- Ginger grated – 1 tbsp
- Black pepper – 2
- Cinnamon – 1 inch stick
- Cloves – 2
- star anise – 1
- Cardamom pods – 1 crushed
- Unpasteurized honey – 1 tbsp
- Basil leaves – a handful
Boil all the ingredients except honey in a pan with one liter of water for 30 minutes. Warm a cup of this drink with some honey.
Kiwi, Lime, Watermelon Salad
- Sliced watermelon – 1 cup
- Kiwi – 2 chopped
- Sunflower seeds – 1 tbsp
- Combine all fruits and sprinkle with lemon juice and sunflower seeds.
While there is no one way to completely avoid an infection, strengthening your immune system with specific food ingredients can go a long way in reducing your risk of infection.
The reason I mention these 12 foods is because they are not only the best foods for boosting immunity but are also easily available throughout the year. Our immune system plays an important role in preventing viruses and bacteria from affecting and harming our bodies.
Consuming these foods daily will not only keep you healthy but will also help you in getting a strong immune system, which will keep you immune and disease free.