It’s been a tough year – and with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic devastating India, the best thing we can do for our health is to stay in and make sure we are exercising and eating immunity-boosting foods.
In our current situation when we are completely house-bound and can often get triggered by the news and events unfolding around us, it becomes very easy to give in to unhealthy cravings and indulge in convenience food and treats, both salty and sweet. But we have to be extra careful now.
And the best way to stay healthy is with the right diet. Supplements and pills shouldn’t be your go-to – the ideal way to a robust immune system is with a diet that’s rich in immunity-boosting foods.
Here is a list of some of the best immune-boosting foods you can add to your plate, whether you are an adult or a parent cooking for their child.
Top 10 Immunity Boosting Foods
2. Citrus Fruits
3. Green Leafy Vegetables
6. Curry Leaves
8. Nuts & Seeds
9. Green Tea
#1 – Turmeric
Turmeric is one of the most prolific ingredients in Indian cooking. Turmeric contains the active ingredients curcumin and theracurmin which help build immunity and provide relief from cough, cold and sore throat.
Haldi can also reduce symptoms of hay fever in kids, which include nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy runny nose, and congestion. But turmeric needs to be combined with the right ingredients for it to be absorbed properly in the body. Fat and black pepper are the best ways to get the best out of turmeric.
So, it’s advisable to drink turmeric milk at night. All you need to do is whisk together 1 cup milk, 1 one-inch piece of turmeric and 3 whole peppercorns with 50 ml water in a saucepan. Bring it to a low boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 mins, then strain and serve! If you do not like milk or are lactose intolerant, you can use coconut milk instead of cow’s milk.
#2 – Citrus Fruits
Vitamin C is a powerhouse of antioxidants, which fight free radicals and keep colds, flu and cough away. All citrus fruits contain Vitamin C. Choose from lemon, lime, oranges, pomelo, kiwi, grapefruit, musambi and more.
Guavas are also a great source of Vitamin C – in fact, they contain more Vitamin C than even oranges! You can have these fruits raw, make a citrus fruit salad, fruit chaat or make juices using these fruits.
#3 – Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy are a powerhouse of nutritoin, rich in iron, fibre and antioxidants. Choose from a wide range like spinach, kale, moringa (drumstick leaves), radish leaves, pumpkin leaves, methi, kale etc.
Moringa is an easily available leafy green that is a good source of copper and vitamin A, which help build immunity. You can make it as a sabzi, soup or make a chutney.
#4 – Garlic
Garlic makes almost everything taste better – whether it’s dal, soup or even a pasta dish! Whole garlic contains a compound called alliin. When garlic is crushed or chewed, this compound turns into allicin (with a c), the main active ingredient, which helps combat cold and flu.
Some people like to chew a raw clove of garlic first thing upon waking up to boost their immunity.
#5 – Ginger
There’s a reason adrak chai is so soothing – it is known to be a natural remedy for sore throat, cough and inflammatory illnesses! Ginger has powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties and also helps flush out toxins.
Many people have ginger “shots” to boost their health. You can have it in tea, or grate it over salads. Since it is considered a Satvic food, it can be eaten by those who follow a pure vegetarian diet as well.
#6 – Curry Leaves
Another standard condiment and seasoning used in Indian cooking, curry leaves are also known as meethi neem. They are highly beneficial to the body and contain copper, Vitamin E and Vitamin A, along with Omega-3s, all of which are essential nutrients to help build immunity.
You can add it to tadkas, in poha, upma and other dishes. Or, if you really want to get the benefits, just chewing a few leaves on an empty stomach in the morning.
#7 – Yogurt/Curd
Yogurt or dahi is a probiotic that helps keep your gut healthy, which is an important aspect of overall health and immunity. It is also filled with calcium. Research shows that people who consume probiotics on a daily basis have a lower chance of contracting colds and flus compared to those who don’t.
Chaas, lassi, curd rice, raita, smoothies – there are plenty of ways to consumer yogurt!
#8 – Nuts & Seeds
If you are feeling peckish, then reach for a handful or katori of nuts and seeds instead of chips. Most nuts contain antioxidants and minerals in addition to protein.
Some nuts are considered superfoods, like flaxseeds and walnuts, since they are great sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which support immune cell function and also help prevent respiratory infections.
Chia seeds are another good source of Omega-3s, and can be added to your smoothies and oatmeal. Sabja seeds and hemp seeds also contain Omega-3s.
Hemp Seeds, Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds
#9 – Green Tea
Green tea is a great substitute for coffee and milky chai. It contains flavonoids and tannins, which are known to help fight bacteria and reduce inflammation. Green tea also has polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) that prevents the growth of bad breath bacteria in the gut.
It is known to be a powerful antibacterial and antiviral that can kill cold-starting bacteria and the influenza virus.
#10 – Fluids/Hydration
If you really want to stay fit and healthy, then hydration is a must. And this needs to be in multiple forms, not just your morning and afternoon cup of coffee or tea. After all, our body is comprised of around 70% water! When we fall ill, we tend to lose more water than usual, because of fever and excess metabolism.
This is what causes us to feel dehydrated. So, irrespective of whether you are ill, make it a practice to have 8 glasses of fluids a day, in the form of regular H2O, sugar-free juices, coconut water, etc.
In summer, it is also important to eat hydrating fruits and vegetables like cucumber and watermelon which are more than 90% water. Fluids support immune function.
Immunity-Boosting Foods: Your Source Of Strength
Now you have a clear idea of what to eat to keep your body healthy and safe from infections, you can add these immunity-boosting foods (Indian) to your shopping list. Most of these fruits and vegetables are easy to source from your local sabziwala and kirana store – so no excuses!
To know how to prepare some tasty and healthy immunity-boosting dishes, you can browse the recipe collection here.
Join the FREE 5-Day Immunity Boosting challenge here, an easy and doable way to align your body with your immune system. The email program teaches you how to listen to your body and tune in to your immune system.
You will learn how to choose the right foods and put in place daily rituals to ensure your immune system is working at its best.
If you are looking to address a specific health concern, you can browse our plans here.
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Check out the Post Covid Recovery Diet Video from Nutritionist Lovneet:
How can you boost your immune system with food?
The best way to boost your immune system is to eat local and with the seasons. Local seasonal fruits and vegetables are the best and most nutrient-dense. Desi vegetables like moringa, spinach, curry leaves, radish leaves etc provide a good source of antioxidants.
Carrot and pumpkin are good sources of beta carotene and can be made into sabzi or soup. Juices made with beetroot, amla and ginger are also great to boost immunity.
How can you boost your immune system naturally with food?
You can increase immunity in adults and child naturally by consuming foods that are naturally rich in immunity-boosting nutrients like Vitamin C, antioxidants, Omega-3s, etc.
Which foods improve immunity?
There are many foods that can increase immunity power, like green leafy vegetables, Vitamin C rich foods, spices like turmeric, etc.
What foods boost a child’s immune system?
Foods like curd, haldi, moringa, curry leaves, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables (pumpkin, carrot, broccoli, spinach) can naturally boost a child’s immune system.
How do you improve immunity in adults naturally?
You can improve immunity in adults naturally by consuming the right proportions of real, whole foods that have immune-boosting properties, like turmeric, oranges, lemons, spinach, curry leaves, yogurt, fish oils, flaxseeds, walnuts etc.
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