Current COVID crisis has generated a lot of interest in immunity, especially natural and innate immunity. One way to improve it is by eating right.
Below is a very opportune guest post by Palak Nagpal, who is a nutritionist based out of Delhi, India.
Immunity isn’t built overnight nor does eating a superfood alone help you to build it.
I know there is a lot of information out there so I’ll keep this short and crisp. Keep checking off the things you are including in your nutrition plan every day and make space for those which you aren’t. Here’s a list of important foods particularly important for boosting our immunity:
- Load up on Vitamin C
Sources: Amla/gooseberry, lemon, orange, kiwi, guava, black pepper, bell pepper
2. Vitamin E is the most well-known antioxidant which fights infection and keeps our immune system strong. Nuts & seeds are rich in Vitamin E.
#PROTIP: Soak almonds and walnuts- as soaking removes the anti-nutrient in them, which blocks the absorption of nutrients.
#PROTIP: Soak, sun dry, and grind your seeds as grinding makes the nutrients in them easily absorbed by the body.
3. Zinc and Selenium, both of these minerals are important for boosting immunity. Selenium & Vitamin E work in synergy to protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Selenium is more effective as an antioxidant when combined with Vitamin E.
Sources: sesame seeds, Amaranth, cashew nut, egg, fish, sunflower & pumpkin seeds.
4. Anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal foods you must eat every day. These are easily available in your kitchen. A few of them are:
- Garlic– contains allicin -which boosts immunity.
- Turmeric – an anti-inflammatory spice, boosts brain health and has anti-cancer properties
- Ginger – helps in digestive secretions, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, helps with a sore throat.
- Black pepper – increases the bioavailability of other spices, boosts digestive health, stimulates digestive secretions
- Clove – Antibacterial, Antiseptic, rich in antioxidants, blood purifier, improves digestion and good bacteria in the gut.
5. Vitamin A is an anti-inflammatory vitamin, which helps to enhance immune function
Sources: Carrots, Sweet potato, Spinach, Mango, Agathi, Colocasia leaves, Apricot
6. Vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of infection. It is hard to find this vitamin in natural food, so it’s best to start a supplement under your doctor’s supervision.
Sources: Mushrooms (a few types), egg yolks, exposure to sunlight early mornings and early evenings.
7. Prebiotics & Probiotics– facilitate better gut health. Good gut health means good immunity.
Sources: Apple, Banana, yogurt, apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, kefir, homemade pickles, and kimchi.
MY ADVICE: Eat a well-balanced diet to increase your immunity. All macro and micro nutrients are important to build it. Consume at least 2 portions of fruits, 3-4 portions of veggies, 2 portions of legumes & lentils, 1 portion of either egg, fish or chicken, and a handful of nuts & seeds every day. Remember moderation is the key!
Sleep, no stress, physical activity, and a balanced diet are the 4 pillars to maintain and gain good health.
Palak Nagpal is a nutritionist from Delhi, India.She believes in mindful eating and evidence-based dietary practices. She is B.sc: Food and Nutrition (Delhi University), M.sc (UK), PG diploma Dietetics (IHM Pusa, Delhi), Diploma Naturopathy (AINCF, Delhi)
Palak welcomes comments & any nutrition related queries.
For daily nutrition-related tips and healthy recipes follow her page on Instagram