With changing seasons and the onset of winters, seasonal allergies like cold, flu and other infections have become common. Making healthy changes to your diet plan can be a beginning to steer clear off these allergies and infections. The immune system plays a major function in the body and fights against illness causing forces including bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins, etc. Therefore, it becomes essential to maintain the optimal functioning of the immune system.
Nutrients like Vitamin C, vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids, and certain antioxidants help boost and support the functioning of the same. Try to include more forms of natural foods rich in these nutrients. You may also rely on omega 3, vitamin C and vitamin E tablets if you are unable to get enough of these through your daily diet alone.
Some natural foods that you can consume to improve your immune system, and stay away from common illnesses may include:
1. Nuts and Dry Fruits
Nuts are rich in vitamin E, vitamin B6, omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid, and niacin. They also have magnesium, selenium and phosphorus that are essential for a healthy immune system. You can add these foods as toppings or ingredients for some recipes, or munch on them as a healthy snack.
2. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits have abundant amounts of vitamin C which helps improve the production of white blood cells in the body. This enables the body to fight infections more effectively and strengthens immunity. Oranges, mosambi, amla, lemon, etc. are some common examples of citrus fruits easily available in the market. You can either make a fresh fruit salad including these, or squeeze them to create fresh juices consumed with the fibre content.
3. Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and beta carotene. These nutrients help fight common infections and enhance our body’s ability to stay healthy by maintaining immune system health. Green vegetables offer multiple other health benefits as well, and are therefore known as super foods. The healthiest example of leafy greens may include broccoli, spinach, kale, and so on.
Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrients. Consumption of both the egg white as well as yolk is highly beneficial for the body. Not only do they provide the body with enough protein but are also rich in vitamin B12, vitamin A and selenium that help maintain a healthy immune system. These are also among the most versatile foods, and can be prepared following multiple recipes based on your preference.
5. Ginger and garlic
Ginger and garlic are used as a common ingredient in a number of Indian recipes. Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant properties that may help prevent common illnesses. Garlic, on the other hand, is known for its properties to prevent seasonal allergies like cold, and others. Therefore, it can be said that the consumption of ginger and garlic helps strengthen the immune system.
6. Dairy Products
Dairy products like milk, cheese, yoghurt, etc. are rich in vitamin A, vitamin D, selenium, zinc and protein. These products are highly versatile and there are multiple ways to include these in your daily meals. However dairy products are not suitable for those who are lactose intolerant. Such individuals may have to rely on other sources for these nutrients.
Berries have a wide range of essential vitamins, potassium, manganese, and dietary fibre that may be helpful in boosting the immune system. Flavonoids present in berries like blueberries, blackberries, etc. are highly beneficial for the immune system. It can be said that these fruits contain anti-aging vitamins and minerals. Berries can be consumed as a healthy dessert, or as part of various food items such as smoothies or yoghurt.
Consumption of tea, especially green tea, is an excellent way to prevent common illnesses like colds. All types of tea – green, black, or white – contain polyphenols in addition to flavonoids. Both of these are types of antioxidants that are highly beneficial for the immune system.
Certain studies suggest that mushrooms, a type of macrofungus, have certain medicinal properties. They are great sources of antioxidants as well as minerals required by our body. Reishi, lion’s mane, shiitake, chaga, and turkey tail are several types of healthy mushrooms.
10. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is rich in theobromine, an antioxidant that fights against free radicals in the body. It helps the body get rid of oxidative stress. This further helps strengthen the immune system. However, you may want to keep a check on the levels of consumption of dark chocolate on a daily basis. This is because the food may have high levels of calories and saturated fats.
Turmeric is a key ingredient for a number of Indian cuisines. It provides them with their yellow colour as well as rich aroma and flavour. This rich colour is obtained from a pigment called curcumin, that is present in the spice. The presence of this pigment in the spice is also what is responsible for the enhancement of your body’s immune system.
Something you may want to focus on is a well-balanced meal. This implies two things: consumption of all essential nutrients through a meal as well as consumption of all nutrients in moderation. In addition to having a balanced diet, it is also important to focus on other aspects of having a healthy lifestyle.
These were some of our tips to help boost your immune system. Do let us know about your experience with the same in the comments below!