A strong immune system is key to healthy wellbeing. While maintaining a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise helps in keeping the immune system stronger, there are certain foods that contain immune-boosting essential nutrients and minerals that can help your body fight off pathogens, which are foreign bodies like bacteria and viruses, causing infection or disease. The recent outbreak of coronavirus has disheveled the lives of people across the globe. According to doctors and scientists, those who have a healthy immune system can fight off the virus.
Our immune system contains proteins, tissues, and organs that carry out bodily processes and fight off harmful viruses. When our body comes in contact with a pathogen, our immune system triggers an immune response that releases antibodies that helps in killing the virus.
Incorporating certain foods in your diet can be helpful in warding off deadly viruses like coronavirus, and more. These foods are rich in minerals and nutrients that can help in strengthening your immune response.
Immune system-boosting foods are rich in antioxidants and other minerals that help in keeping the cells active and healthy. Sadly, the majority of the population these days doesn’t eat enough foods that are rich in such minerals. Moreover, you have to understand that you can’t just eat a specific diet and expect a quick boost in Immunity. A truly healthy immune system depends on a well-adjusted combination of minerals and vitamins over time, in addition to a hefty dose of exercise and normal sleep patterns.
With that said, let’s discuss the top foods that you must try to include in your daily diet if you want to possess a healthy immune system.
Let’s get started.
12 Foods that will Help Build Immunity
While there are plenty of health supplements available that contain the required daily dosage of minerals and vitamins for your body, it is advised to get them through natural food sources as much as possible. The following are the best foods to consider for Immunity boosting:
Whether you like it or not, but seafood contains the immune system boosting elements that you should not overlook. Seafood, especially shellfish, are packed with zinc, which is an essential mineral that aids the immune system’s health.
If you are fond of seafood, try to include it in your diet twice or thrice a week in any one of your daily meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner. The best part about seafood is that it is light as compared to meat and poultry, so you can easily include it in your dinner.
Zinc helps with the proper functioning of immune cells, thereby boosting the overall function of the system. Top seafood that contains zinc in abundance includes crabs, mussels, lobsters, etc.
#2 Sunflower Seeds
Many don’t know, but sunflower seeds are packed with nutrients and minerals, including vitamin E, vitamin B-6, magnesium, and phosphorous. Vitamin E is considered a potent antioxidant that is beneficial for the immune system health. You can add sunflower seeds to your daily cooking. The best part about sunflower seeds is that it also enhances the flavor of the food you are preparing, due to its spicy punch.
Consuming sunflower seeds help in regulating and maintaining the functioning of your immune system. You can add sunflower seeds to your salads, soups, seasoning of certain foods like chicken, for sautéing, and more.
When you consult a doctor regarding simple flu, he/she would most probably suggest you drink chicken soup. Yes, chicken soup is our go-to food whenever we have a cold or flu. According to health experts, poultry foods help protect you from getting sick in the first place. Foods like turkey and chicken are high in vitamin B-6 content. In fact, about 100 grams of chicken contains 40-50% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin B-6.
Vitamin B-6 is a major player when it comes to the essential chemical reactions that take place in our bodies. The vitamin also plays a crucial role in the production of new and healthy red blood cells. Chicken contains chondroitin, gelatin, and other vital nutrients that are helpful for your gut health, which is directly associated with Immunity.
Kiwi is one such fruit that contains vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and folate in abundance. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and prevent cell damage. It also helps in boosting the production of white blood cells that fight infections. You can consume kiwi on a daily basis. The fruit contains tiny seeds that are edible and full of nutrients as well. You can simply eat it alone, put it in fruit salad, or make a smoothie out of it – the options are endless. The best part is that it can be made easily available in your local stores through all seasons.
Just like kiwi, papaya is naturally full of all the necessary nutrients and minerals like folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and potassium. Potassium in papayas is known for keeping the heart healthy. At the same time, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant that boosts the production of white blood cells that helps in fighting infections and ward off diseases. Papaya is also good for eye health and skin. Papaya is one such fruit that is readily available in India all through the season. So, you can eat it almost daily. Papaya shakes are also a very tasty alternative but stick to the natural flavors.
#6 Green Tea
Most people don’t know, but green tea contains excellent antioxidant properties that help the body detox toxins and other harmful elements. Green tea contains a powerful antioxidant called EGCG or epigallocatechin that has shown to boost immune system function. Green tea, since it is not fully processed, holds back the majority of its nutrients and minerals 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 also helps in flushing out the toxins and other waste materials from the body while keeping the immune system healthy. Green tea is also considered good for skin health.
Turmeric is a spice that has been a part of Indian cooking for centuries. It not only gives the food its color but also packs it with essential nutrients and minerals. Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties that help in treating inflammation of the muscles and bones. Over the years, people have been using turmeric as a home remedy for treating joint pain and inflammation of knees and feet. With that said, it can help in treating patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. On the other hand, there are studies that suggest curcumin in turmeric may help boost Immunity.
Of all the nuts, almonds contain high concentrations of vitamin E and vitamin C that plays a crucial role in keeping the immune system healthy. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that requires fat to be absorbed properly. Almond contains healthy fats as well that eases down the process of absorption. Vitamin E aids the production of red blood cells that boosts the blood flow to all parts of the body. This keeps your immune system stronger. You are advised to consume 4-6 almonds daily. You can eat it soaking it in water or add some crushed almonds in your milk for a tasty milkshake.
Yogurt is considered a prebiotic that is essential to your immune system health. It directly affects your gut, helping the good bacteria to thrive. Your gut health is directly associated with your immune system. Therefore, a healthy gut means a healthy immune system. While there are plenty of flavorful yogurts available in the market, you are advised to consume plain yogurts. Plain yogurts are free of any additives and artificial flavors that can degrade the overall quality of the food. The best way to consume yogurt is with rice, or you can drizzle some honey, sprinkle your favorite fruits over it, and consume it as salad.
Green leafy vegetables like spinach are rich in iron and vitamin C that are essential for fresh blood production and keeping blood impurities at bay. Moreover, spinach is packed with nutrients like beta-carotene and antioxidants that improve your body’s disease-fighting ability. Thus, including spinach in your diet can help your immune system health. You can add spinach to a number of dishes. However, make sure that the leaves are proper cooked, as raw spinach can be hard to digest for some individuals. There are plenty of homemade spinach recipes available like ‘Palak Paneer’ and other delicious Indian dishes. Spinach should be included in your kids’ diet mandatorily as it provides them with essential nutrients to grown and secure a healthy immune system.
While many people don’t like the taste of ginger when they accidentally chew it in their food, it is great food with excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger is a popular spice that can help reduce inflammation-related issues as well as help in the treatment of sore throat. Women experiencing nausea during periods, or when pregnant are advised to eat raw ginger as it helps in curbing the symptoms. It can also help in reducing cholesterol levels as well as help decrease chronic pain.
#12 Citrus Fruits
Last but not least, citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruit and tangerines, among others, are packed with vitamin C that helps in boosting the production of white blood cells in the body. White blood cells are essential in fighting diseases and infections. It also helps in removing free radicals from the body, preventing cell damage, which ultimately reduces your chances of having cancer.
3 Simple Recipes that will help Build Immunity
The majority of foods we have mentioned are available all round the year. So, you don’t have to worry about running out of stock. These foods can help you increase your Immunity while improving your quality of life.
Now that you have understood the best immunity-boosting foods, let’s discuss some recipes that will help you with the process.
#1 Frozen Orange Pops
- Orange juice – 4 cups (pulp removed)
- Honey – 1/4 cup
- Plain yogurt – 1 cup
- Orange zest – from 1 large orange
- Vanilla extract – 1 ½ teaspoon
- Kosher salts
- Put orange juice and honey in a saucepan, and bring the mixture to a simmer
- Wait for the mixture to cool
- Take a blender and all the ingredients, including the orange-honey mixture into the blender
- Blend until it transforms into a puree
- Take ice molds or pop molds and freeze the mixture
- Serve icy cold
#2 Green Smoothie
- Spinach – 2 cups chopped
- Banana – 2 ripe
- Apple – 1 ripe (peeled and chopped)
- Orange juice – 1/2 cup
- Ground flaxseed – 1 tablespoon
- Cold water – 1/2 cup
- Ice cubes – 8-10
- Take a blender, put all the ingredients, and blend till puree
- Take a strainer and strain any pulp
- Garnish with mint leaves and serve cold
#3 Kiwi, Lime, Watermelon Juice
- Large juice limes – 2
- Chopped watermelon – 1 ¼ cups
- Kiwi – 2 chopped
- Chia seeds – 1 tablespoon
- Juice the fruits
- Add some chia seeds (optional)
- Add some ice cubes or refrigerate for 10-15 minutes and serve cold
Apart from the foods mentioned, there are plenty of other foods that are beneficial for your immune system. The reason why we mentioned these 12 foods is that they are available throughout the year, making it easy for you to get them. Our immune system plays a vital role in warding off viruses and bacteria from affecting our body and causing damage. Consuming these foods on a daily basis can help you achieve a stro