Over the years, we have learnt the importance of immunity. It works as the first line of defence against every imbalance in the body. From regularising our metabolism to prevent oxidative stress, your immune health does it all. However, some people are not blessed with a strong immunity. Hence, it is always suggested to load up on healthy nutrients to boost the defence mechanism of our body. And the best part is, you don't need to go miles to look for those nutrients. All you need to do is, scan through your kitchen and select the food ingredients wisely. In this article, we will take you through some commonly available foods that will help you in the process. Read on.
Also Read: 5 Common Antioxidant-Rich Foods That Promote Healthy Heart And Boost Immunity
What Are The Nutrients That Help Promote Immunity?
1. Fatty Fish:
Rich in omega 3 , a critical nutrient for immunity. Omega 3 is also a strong anti-inflammatory agent. Omega 3 is a part of cell membranes, eating fatty fish helps strengthen the membrane of immunity cells. Mackerel, Salmon, trout, Sardines, Tuna are good sources of omega 3 fats.
2. Citrus Fruits:
Loaded with Vitamin C, it is the most important nutrient for lung health and is known to reduce flu symptoms. Vitamin C is also associated with improving the functioning of immune cells. Vitamin C is important for healing of tissues and helps in recovery post infection. Oranges, lemons , lime, kinu are some easily available fruits.
It has been used for centuries in our community for its antiseptic, antifungal, and antiseptic properties. Garlic is associated with boosting the activity of immune cells. Stress is known to lower immunity. Garlic has the ability to affect the adrenal glands response to stress. Garlic has been seen to reduce the production of stress hormones in clinical studies. Garlic also helps with absorption of zinc from food. Zinc is a critical immune nutrient. We add garlic to our meals, make sure you have enough.
Another Indian spice that is known for its health supportive activities is ginger. It also has very impressive antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial characteristics. Excessive free radicals attack and destroy cells including immune cells. Antioxidants neutralize this activity, protecting the immune system. Ginger also contains magnesium, Vitamin C and potassium, all of which enhance immunity
Curcumin in turmeric is an established compound known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities. It is also an anti-viral agent. Turmeric is known to boost the immune system and help fight infections as well as hasten healing. In summers you can add it to lemonades, cold coffee, iced tea for the extra dose.
The sulphur compounds of broccoli help in production of Glutathione which scavenges free radicals and protects the immune system. In addition, it is a good source of Vitamin A, E & C all strong antioxidants and known for their ability to boost the immunity. Other cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower and cabbage.
7. Bell peppers:
The yellow and red peppers are one of the richest sources of Vitamin C, which is essential for its immunity boosting activity and is an anti-oxidant par excellence
Most green leafy vegetables, including spinach, are sources of vitamin A, and beta carotene. Beta carotene is known to enhance immune cell function and is a strong anti-oxidant.
Almonds, Brazil nuts, Walnuts, Peanuts are all source of protein the basic building block for immune cells. In addition, almonds are a good source of Vitamin E, an excellent antioxidant and Walnuts contain omega 3 fats which are also needed for immunity boost. All nuts are sources of zinc, magnesium, two important immunity nutrients.
Sunflower seeds are loaded with Vitamin E, Chia seeds have a rich mineral profile especially magnesium and zinc. Pumpkin seeds add omega 3 and Flax seeds help fight inflammation because of their nutrient profile. All these boost immunity through the nutrients that they contain, they help maintain the inflammation and add health promoting fiber, aid digestion and control oxidative stress.
Also Read: Here's The Surprising Link Between Your Gut And Immunity, And How To Keep Both Healthy
What Is The Link Between Immunity And Gut Health?
70% of our immune system is located in our gut. Immune cells in our intestines react with the microbiome- the colony of bacteria - of the gut. The diversity and composition of the microbiome is directly affected by our food. Eating foods that help keep the gut healthy protects by enhancing the immunity.
Yogurt or dahi is probably the easiest probiotic food available. Traditional drinks like sattu, fermented beet kanji, also help improve the gut bacteria. Bael sherbet is also healthy. These drinks will also keep you hydrated.
Always remember, what works the best is an overall good balanced diet along with exercise and enough rest. A diet rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants help keep the immune system in top shape and help you recover faster.
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About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.