Top 10 Foods To Strengthen The Immune System Naturally
by Dr. Surya Bhagwati on Apr 02, 2021
The best way to reduce your risk of infections and the severity of illness is by taking steps to strengthen your immune system. Not surprisingly, this has become a big focus over the last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While there are Ayurvedic medicines to boost immunity that can be of great help, Ayurved emphasizes a holistic approach. So, in addition to consuming Ayurvedic herbs, polyherbal formulations like Chyawanprash and Ayush Kwath, and giloy or ashwagandha supplements, you should also make some changes to your diet to include foods that boost immunity. Here are some of the best foods to strengthen immunity naturally, with a focus on vegetarian foods that are widely available across India.
We’ll skip the obvious choice of citric fruits and get straight to the others!
Top 10 Foods To Boost Immunity:
1. Amla (Indian Gooseberry)
Amla is perhaps the richest source of vitamin C, making it the best food to consume if you wish to boost your immunity. Just 100 grams of amla would give you 46% of your daily vitamin C requirement, along with a variety of nutrients and phytochemicals, including anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and flavonols. This gives amla wide-ranging health benefits, but the most notable is its immunomodulatory and antibacterial effects, which can support and strengthen the immune system. If you don't like the taste Amla, you can take Imunoherb Capsule which has good amount of Amla, Giloy, Neem extracts that will help for immuntiy boosting.
2. Palak (Spinach)
Palak is a staple leafy green in the Indian diet and now you have good reason to consume more of it. The vegetable is a good source of vitamin C and also contains plenty of antioxidants and beta carotene. These nutrients are known to support the immune system. You can get the maximum nutrition and immune system benefits from palak by lightly cooking it.
3. Haldi (Turmeric)
Haldi is another ingredient that is widely used in Indian cuisine because of its distinctive flavour and colour. However, it is just as popular as a healing spice that has been used for thousands of years in Ayurved to treat wound and inflammation, whether a sore throat or arthritic disease. Haldi gets its healing properties from curcumin, which is the main bioactive ingredient in the spice. Studies suggest that haldi can work as a natural immune booster and may also help fight viral infections.
4. Garlic (Lahasun)
Used in various dishes and most popular in chutneys, garlic packs quite a punch both in terms of its taste and health benefits. Garlic has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine and it is now also recommended in conventional medicine as a natural medicine to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and hypertension. Many of the same compounds like allicin and other sulfur-containing compounds in garlic are thought to also give it immune-boosting properties, with some research also showing that it can help fight infections and speed recovery.
5. Ginger (Adarak)
Ginger is another herb or rhizome that we frequently use in India to treat a variety of health conditions, especially coughs, colds, and the flu. The traditional use of ginger is supported by research, which has highlighted its anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its ability to fight disease-causing pathogens and support immunity. Adding ginger to your diet, whether when cooking dishes or as herbal tea will also yield other benefits as it is known to lower cholesterol levels.
6. Sunflower Seeds (Surajmukhi Ke Beej)
Sunflower seeds are commonly used as garnishing and can also be consumed as healthy snacks when roasted lightly. These seeds are nutrient-dense, containing vitamins B-6 and E, as well as important minerals like magnesium and phosphorus. All of these nutrients are known to play a critical role in the health of your immune system. Additionally, sunflower seeds are one of the best vegetarian sources of selenium, which has been shown to help fight off viral infections.
7. Watermelon (Tarabooj)
When it comes to immunity-boosting foods, most people are so focused on citric fruits that they often overlook other healthy foods. Watermelons may not be the first fruit to come to mind, but this refreshing fruit is rich in an important antioxidant, known as glutathione. This antioxidant plays an important role in strengthening the immune system to help it fight infections. Keep in mind that the highest content of this antioxidant is located in the pulp that is closest to the rind.
8. Dahi (Yogurt)
Fresh dahi is one of the healthiest foods you can have to support your immune system. Yoghurt is an excellent source of nutrition, providing you with protein, vitamin B-2, vitamin B-12, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. While these nutrients are themselves important for immunity, the live bacterial cultures in dahi, referred to as lactobacilli are known to improve gut health, which plays a central role in immune function.
Mushrooms are a delicacy for many and have become increasingly popular in Indian cuisine, whether as pizza toppings or in dishes like kadai mushroom. Aside from their delightful taste, mushrooms are extremely nutritious, giving you a good dose of selenium, as well as riboflavin and niacin. Research shows that all of these nutrients play an important role in strengthening the immunes system, with selenium deficiencies associated with more frequent flu infections.
10. Dark Chocolate
Yes, chocolate is a guilty pleasure for most of us, but it doesn’t have to leave you feeling guilty. Instead of consuming regular milk chocolate that is loaded with sugar, focus on low sugar dark chocolates as this will give you theobromine, an antioxidant that boosts immunity and increases protection from free radicals. However, even consuming dark chocolate, you should only eat it in moderation to avoid unwanted weight gain.
As we pointed out before, Ayurved takes a holistic approach to health, which means that measures to strengthen immunity cannot be temporary or quick fixes. You should make an effort to adopt healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices regularly as immunity is accumulated and built over some time.
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