Superfoods to Boost your Immune System
The body’s immune system is capable of protecting us from various disease-causing bacterias, viruses, toxins, and pathogens. It also helps remove foreign bodies and malignant cells from our system. Additionally, the immune system of the body is responsible for down-regulating the immune responses against external triggers from food or against the bodies’ own tissues that are generally harmless. If the immune system fails to perform and protect the body, it can result in the development of allergies or auto-immune disorders like arthritis, psoriasis, etc.
Cold and flu are still kicking around and given the recent global crisis heading out to the pharmacy is not a feasible option. Seasonal changes throughout the year can lead to a number of viral infections, flu, and other health conditions. These health issues can include a sore throat, itchy nose, sneezing, coughing, common cold, and other water-borne diseases like typhoid, food poisoning, diarrhea, malaria, and dengue. Keeping this in mind, the most viable solution to fight these seasonal viruses can be found right at home. We all have a number of superfoods right in our kitchens and we don’t even realize it.
Regular exercising, staying hydrated and including the right immune-boosting foods can help strengthen your immunity and beat common illnesses all year-round.
Here are a few superfoods that can help boost the body’s immune system:
Neem not only cools down the body from within but also helps boost the immune system. It consists of both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that help keep the skin clean, radiant and healthy. Neem also has properties that can help purify the blood. It also assists in clearing toxins and impurities from the blood leaving you with a strengthened immune system.
Adding a bowl of oats to your meals can be both healthy and filling. Oats are a low-calorie food that is rich in dietary fiber and protein, which gives a full stomach feeling for longer periods of time. It also helps in managing cholesterol levels, body weight, and reducing the risk of blood sugar and diabetes in people of all age groups.
Consuming button mushrooms helps increase immunity power. Mushrooms are a great source for Selenium and B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin content that are necessary for the immune system to function properly and to strengthen it. Mushrooms are also high in polysaccharides, sugar-like molecules that help boost the immune system by activating the immune cells, proteins, T-cells and natural killer cells (a type of white blood cell) in the body.
Watermelon is considered to be an immune-boosting fruit as it consists of potassium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. A two-cup serving of watermelon contain only 80 calories. It also provides vitamin B6 and glutathione, an antioxidant that helps strengthen the immune system to fight against infections. Your body requires these vitamins, nutrients and essential compounds for the proper functioning of the immune system.
Nuts and seeds
On a regular basis, make sure to eat a few dates, apricots, groundnuts, almonds, pine nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and other kinds of nuts to lead a healthier life. These nuts are rich in Omega-3, zinc, and magnesium that help boost immunity in various ways. For instance, Zinc aids in the production of white blood cells. Sunflower seeds are high in phosphorus, magnesium, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin E (an antioxidant) which helps regulate the immune system.
All citrus fruits like lemon, orange, sweet lime, kiwi, bananas, and avocado are valuable ingredients when it comes to strengthening immunity. Lemon is considered one of the richest sources of Vitamin C. Lemon when taken with water has the ability to balance the pH level of the body from acidic to alkaline, especially, as most diseases tend to develop in an acidic environment. Organic lemon peels are very nutritious as it contains high levels of vitamins and is a great source of calcium, fiber, potassium, and magnesium that are essential for promoting overall health.
Mangoes are another great source for Vitamin C, A, E, K, and most of the Vitamin Bs. It contains a substance called mangiferin that has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, that helps the body boost its immune system.
Probiotics like yogurt, beet sauerkraut, kefir, garlic, and onion are very beneficial for the immune system. These help improve gut health, digestion and absorption of nutrients. It allows the good bacteria present in the intestines to grow, which further helps in synthesizing Vitamin B12 for a healthier gut. Yogurt is rich in Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidus. These strains help boost the functioning of the immune system and may even help reduce the severity of colds.
Spinach is a leafy green superfood mainly due to its high folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, and iron content. The nutrients in spinach help boost the immune system and provide the body with other necessary compounds that are required for cell division and DNA repair. To reap the maximum benefits from spinach, eat it raw or lightly cooked to preserve its vital nutrients.
Broccoli is a vegetable that is considered to be a nutrient-packed powerhouse to support your immune system. One cup of broccoli provides vitamin C which is equal to an orange. It is also high in beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. Broccoli supplies an array of Vitamin B1, B2, B3, and B6. All of these vitamins and minerals together help the immune system to function properly. Glutathione, the master antioxidant, is another healthy compound that is found in broccoli.
Raw honey is one of the best remedies to cure symptoms of the common cold and flu, like sore throat, cough, etc. Honey is filled with natural antiviral and antibacterial properties that help get rid of cough and cold. It also consists of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help the body increase its immunity power. Consumption of a spoonful of honey in warm water helps control high blood pressure levels in the body and purifies the blood. One of the easiest ways to reap the benefits of honey and cure sore throat problems is by consuming a small amount of grated ginger to a spoonful of pure honey.
Tea infusions with ingredients like ginger, cinnamon, peppercorn, clove, turmeric, etc consist of natural vitamins, minerals and antiprotozoal properties which help boost the immunity power. Herbal teas like chamomile can help in strengthening the immune system of the body as it is naturally loaded with powerful antioxidants.
Green tea consists of powerful antioxidants and nutrients that help regulate blood sugar levels, improve brain functioning and enhance the metabolic process in the body. Antioxidants in green tea known as polyphenols and flavonoids are considered to boost the immune function of the body. This super-drink is filled with essential minerals, bioactive compounds, and fat-burning properties. It also helps increase the detoxification process in the body and aids in weight management.
All of these immune-boosting foods help the body fight bacterial and viral infections like common cold, cough, flu and their symptoms. Given the current global crisis, maintaining good health is a top priority and therefore consuming these super-foods to increase immunity is an absolute necessity!