The pandemic COVID-19 has made everyone sit up and notice their health, lifestyle, eating habits, etc. Your body needs immunity to fight off disease, and immunity can only be built with your food intake. And as helpless as you are to external factors, there are certain things you can do at home to stay healthy and keep your system running at its peak. Knowing how to boost your immune system for COVID is imperative as it requires some extra nutrients and functional foods you might not be consuming on a daily basis. Additionally, when you prepare an item, make sure you keep it fresh by using food containers like casseroles or hot cases. Here are a few immunity boosting foods that can help you stay healthy, safe, and recover if you contract the virus or fall ill.
1. Basil Leaves or Tulsi
Tulsi leaves, garlic, star anise, and ginger are few natural anti-virus food items that protect from seasonal flu. Basil is rich in zinc and Vitamin C. It, therefore, acts as a natural immunity booster with numerous anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties to protect you from different infections. For immunity boost and flushing out toxins, you can prepare a tulsi tonic by boiling three to four leaves in water, strain, and drink everyday.
Yogurt is like a staple in the Indian kitchen. Besides being a great source of protein and calcium, it is a natural probiotic aiding in the formation of good bacteria in the gut to maintain better immunity. It is also one of the easiest foods to add because you can have it as kadhi, raita, curd rice, smoothies, lassi, smoothie bowls, porridge, etc. Research proves that people who consume probiotics daily have a lower chance of developing colds and flu.
As it is common knowledge, citrus fruits comprise a high amount of Vitamin C, helping fight cold and infections. It works as a powerful antioxidant to protect against the damage induced by oxidative stress. Indian Gooseberry or Amla is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C. Many recovering patients from infections and flu are given Vitamin C through the IV or intravenous therapy route. Hence, it is essential to include plenty of Vitamin C-rich foods in your diet to keep your immunity levels and energy and up. You can have amla as-is, or take an amla juice shot of 30 ml, freshly prepared, every morning.
4. Curry Leaves
Curry leaves are a quintessential part of the Indian cuisine. They add both flavor and color and can make any dish pop! They are usually consumed in the form of a tadka in dal, chutneys, and other dishes. They have enormous immune-boosting properties. They are a great source of copper, Omega-3s, and Vitamin A. Copper and Vitamin A improve immune function, while Omega-3 Fatty Acids are responsible for slowing down and tackling inflammation. Curry leaves also boost the functioning of neutrophils, the body’s responders to infection. The best way to consume curry leaves is to chew a few raw leaves first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
5. Millets (Bajra or Pearl Millet)
Bajra contains an excellent amount of zinc. This important mineral has an anti-inflammatory effect, directly impacting anti-viral activity. Low levels of zinc can directly affect the immune response in the body. Bajra can be consumed in many forms, like chichi, rotis, and also pakodas. The important thing is to combine it with the right foods to gain the benefits, as it is heat-inducing. So, you can have bajra rotis with curd, or add some ghee into the dough. In summer, it is advised to always combine bajra with cold /cooling foods.
6. Seeds (Sunflower, Sesame)
Seeds like sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are also rich in zinc, the preventive and protective mineral. Sesame contains zinc and calcium. They need to be soaked overnight or roasted as a snack as they are heat-inducing. It is best to have only 2 teaspoons a day. Sunflower seeds are fruits of the sunflower plant and contain a dozen essential vitamins and minerals, including zinc. The right way to consume sunflower seeds would be to combine them with fruits or coconut water.
7. Ashwagandha Milk
Also called Indian ginseng, ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic adaptogen that has been in use since ancient times as it has many healing and nourishing properties. It helps the body fight stress and anxiety and boosts the immunity and strength of the body. The active components in ashwagandha, withanolides, and glutathione are strong antioxidants particularly beneficial in reducing inflammation in the lungs. One of the right ways to consume ashwagandha is to combine the root with cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, honey, and pepper for good immune-boosting properties
Ginger is also called as the healing root since the early days. It can ease vomiting and nausea. It is an excellent source of antioxidants. Antioxidants work best when you consume them straight from veggies and fruits. Ginger can be consumed along with your tea or by extracting the juice of ginger and mixing it with honey to better your immunity system. Scientific research shows that ginger can help in balancing the immune system by restoring it to its proper functioning. Ginger is a common kitchen ingredient used in different Indian foods, making it a great choice for immunity boosting foods.
This natural immune booster is a “superfood.” It contains folate, which is good at helping the body make new cells and repair DNA. Spinach also promotes the production of white blood cells, which is an important factor in boosting immunity. It also contains fiber, antioxidants like vitamin C, and more. One needs to eat spinach raw or lightly cooked to receive the maximum benefits. Spinach has various antioxidants and beta carotene, which might be responsible for aiding the immune system in fighting diseases and infection. Spinach is known to be one of the best immunity boosting foods available.
Broccoli is considered to be another superfood when it comes to boosting immunity. It is an excellent source of antioxidants as it destroys free radicals in the body. It is filled with nutrients, protecting the body from damage. It also contains vitamins A and C and the antioxidant glutathione. The gut plays a major role in the healthy functioning of the immune system. The glutathione in broccoli helps destroy free radicals in the gut and also reduces inflammation by recycling various antioxidants. The perfect way to consume broccoli is by steaming it after washing it carefully. Overcooking can make it lose its nutrients. Broccoli is best consumed raw in salads. Broccoli needs to be on the top of your list if you are considering buying immunity boosting foods.
Now that you know the immunity boosting foods, you can begin incorporating more of these into your diet. Besides consuming certain immunity enhancing foods, it is also important to avoid specific foods which could impact your health negatively. So, staying away from foods that aren’t fresh and avoiding packaged and processed foods could be beneficial for your health. Also, avoiding excess salt and sugar, saturated fats, and fried foods could prove to be good for you in the long run.