The immune system is the body’s defense system that works to protect it against germs, infections and other pathogens. It does an extraordinary job in combating illness and keeping us healthy. Several factors could weaken the immune system, such as a stressful lifestyle, poor sleeping pattern, age, smoking, underlying health conditions, medications, pregnancy and a diet that lacks essential nutrients. Boosting and strengthening the immunity of our body has become more important than ever before in the face of the challenging and complex coronavirus pandemic.
According to Everyday Health, beyond precautions like hand-washing and avoiding people who are ill, a good immune system can fight off COVID-19 and other viruses that you may be exposed to. The World Economic Forum says that as and until a vaccine is available, “our immune systems will need to adapt unaided to COVID-19.”
The body make proteins called antibodies that destroy abnormal cells. To produce these antibodies, you have to follow a diet that provides you with necessary nutrients. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “healthy immune system warriors need good, regular nourishment. Scientists have long recognized that people who live in poverty and are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases.”
Here are 10 foods that can help boost the body’s immune system:
- Citrus fruits and red bell peppers: These foods are loaded with Vitamin C, which is well-known for its role in supporting the immune system. Vitamin C is also thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections. As almost all citrus fruits such as grapefruit, oranges, clementines, tangerines, lemons and limes are high in vitamin C, add any of them into your meal a day. However, while vitamin C might help you recover from a cold quicker, there’s no evidence yet that it’s effective against SARS-CoV-2.
- Fatty Fishes: Fishes like salmon, tuna, mackerel boost your immunity because they have Vitamin D, which have a very important role in boosting the body’s immune system. Research shows vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk for viral infections, including respiratory tract infections, by reducing production of pro-inflammatory compounds in the body. Increased vitamin D in the blood has been linked to prevention of chronic diseases like tuberculosis, hepatitis, and cardiovascular disease.
- Kale: This leafy vegetable boosts immune system with two critical ingredients – fiber and antioxidants.
- Broccoli: One of the healthiest vegetables, broccoli is packed with vitamins A, C, E and also has potent antioxidants.
- Garlic: A must-have for your health, garlic has immune-boosting properties. It may also slow down hardening of the arteries, and also help lower blood pressure. Add fresh garlic to cooked veggies, soup, or broth.
- Ginger: Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties and is believed to offer many health benefits.
- Probiotic foods: Up to 80% of your immune system is housed in the gut or belly. Probiotics are fermented foods that contain good bacteria which help in healthy digestion. Wholesome fermented items such as yogurt, sauerkraut and skimmed milk can help maintain heart and brain health and boost the immune system.
- Pomegranate: This fruit supports immunity via its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity. The flavonoid antioxidants found in pomegranate have also been shown to combat viruses, and decrease the length of a cold by as much as 40% (www.health.com).
- Sunflower seeds: A rich source of vitamin E and an antioxidant, sunflower seeds can make a tasty addition to salads or breakfast bowls. Vitamin E improves immune function by fighting off free radicals which can damage cells.
- Sweet potato, carrots, and green leafy vegetables: All these foods have Beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and boost immune function by increasing disease-fighting cells in the body.
Whatever you eat, make sure that you drink lots of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated is very important to boost your immunity. Besides vitamins and minerals, there are a lot of factors that go into enhancing the immune system. Diet benefits do not happen overnight and take time to build up. So, start today!