People tend to develop infections all around the year. However, they are most susceptible to any type of infection, especially during the cold and flu season.
The coronavirus infection has also alerted people to keep their immune system up and about. Apart from wearing a mask and washing the hands continuously, diet plays an integral role in preventing and preparing the body from harmful microorganisms.
Here are 20 foods that can strengthen the body’s immune system.
This commonly used kitchen ingredient is loaded with health benefits. Garlic cloves contain allicin, which plays an active role in keeping off infections from developing. There has been evidence that garlic can lower blood pressure as well as slow down the hardening of the arteries. Other than allicin, some other immune-boosting compounds found in garlic are- manganese, vitamin B6 and C, selenium and fiber.
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According to a 2013 study, fresh ginger helps to maintain the body’s respiratory system when compared to consuming dry ginger. Moreover, it also helps with digestion as well as constipation. Ginger also contains antioxidants that fight off cold and flu symptoms, alleviate nausea. In addition to being rich in antioxidants, ginger is also rich in iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium.
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Spinach is rich in vitamin C as well as numerous antioxidants. Apart from these, this vegetable contains other essential nutrients and antioxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin E. Spinach also contains beta carotene that improves the body’s infection-fighting capabilities. To reap its health benefits, spinach should be cooked as little as possible.
Yogurt is rich in bacteria including Lactobacillus that are beneficial for proper digestion, detoxification, and immune function. These strains boost up the immune system as well as reduce the duration and severity of colds. Instead of flavored yogurt, go for plain yogurt and make it more nutritious by adding fruits of your choice and drizzling honey.
The main ingredient of turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is rich in anti-inflammatory properties as well as antioxidant effects. Consuming turmeric on a daily basis can lower the risk of heart diseases, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Owing to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it also helps to alleviate the symptoms of depression and arthritis.
Almonds are rich in good fats, fiber, protein, magnesium, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The benefits of almonds include low cholesterol levels, low blood pressure, and low blood sugar levels. Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E, which is a fat-soluble vitamin. A fat-soluble vitamin means it that it can be absorbed properly with the presence of fat.
Papaya is a rich source of a digestive enzyme known as papain that has anti-inflammatory properties. The fruit is also rich in potassium, vitamin B, folate, as well as vitamin C. Papaya also helps in weight-loss, eases out menstrual pain, protects against arthritis, improves eyesight.
Some popular citrus fruits that people take when they have caught a cold are-
The citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C increases the power of immunity by increasing the production of white blood cells which is vital for fighting off infections. The body is unable to produce vitamin C hence it needs to be consumed.
Green tea is a good source of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. It is also rich in epigallocatechin gallate which is another type of antioxidant that is beneficial to enhance the immune system. Drinking green tea improves brain function, lowers the risk of cancer and Type 2 diabetes, improves dental health as well as lowers the risk of infection.
A great source of vitamin K and C, it is also rich in folic acid, potassium, and fiber. The vitamin C helps to build collagen necessary for the formation of body tissue and bone. This also fastens the healing of cuts and wounds. Eating broccoli lowers the risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, cataracts, and anemia. This also ensures that the skin remains healthy.
Chicken contains a high amount of vitamin B-6 that helps to improve symptoms of a cold. Moreover, vitamin B-6 is important for various chemical reactions that occur inside the body for the formation of new and healthy red blood cells. Chicken stock or broth also improves gut immunity as it contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients.
A vital nutrient needed by the body to keep infections at bay is Zinc. Shellfish is a rich source of zinc. The recommended amount of zinc in adult men is 11 mg while it is 8mg for women. Some types of shellfish rich in zinc are- crab, clams, lobster.
Similar to avocados and dark leafy greens, sunflower seeds are a rich source of vitamin E. This type of vitamin helps to regulate as well as maintain the functions of the immune system. The seeds are also packed with nutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin B-6.
Red bell peppers
Red bell peppers are another rich source of vitamin C. The vegetable contains twice the amount of vitamin C as citrus fruits. The bell peppers are also a rich source of beta carotene which helps to boost the immune system, keeps the skin healthy as well as improves eyesight.
Sweet potatoes are highly nutritious in nature as it is a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It also promotes gut health as well as boosts up the immunity system. These possess cancer-fighting properties and enhance brain function also.
Pomegranates possess antiviral properties against flu, herpes and other viruses. The pomegranate extracts also promote bacterial growth in the gut which is required for proper digestion. This also inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria such as E coli., Listeria, Clostridium, etc.
Instead of yogurt, you can also eat kefir as this has more probiotics than yogurt. Known for boosting digestive health, it has rich antibacterial properties that can prevent various infections. Moreover, it prevents growth of cancerous cells, improves bone health and lowers the risk of osteoporosis.
There are several benefits of eating watermelon. The first and foremost being that it helps to hydrate the body. The fruit is rich in nutrients and plant compounds essential to prevent cancer, improve the health of the heart, lower inflammation, relieve muscle soreness as well as prevent asthma. These also contain antioxidants that reduce inflammation.
Mushrooms are rich in beta-glucans. Beta-glucans are natural substances that primarily help the immune system to fight off infection. Mushrooms contain a varying degree of protein and fiber. They support the immune system and prevent cell damage as they contain antioxidants known as selenium.
When the body breaks down food or pollutants enter the body, it produces free radicals. Free radicals have the potential to damage the body’s cells and lead to the development of various diseases. This also contains theobromine which has antioxidant properties. Hence, eating dark chocolate in moderation can boost up the immune system and protect the body from free radicals.
Lifestyle Habits That Help To Prevent An Infection
Here are some simple habits that can prevent you from catching a cold, flu or any other viral infections (including coronavirus). These habits may seem simple but their effectiveness is being hailed by medical scientists as well as doctors.
- Quit smoking
- Regularly exercise
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Rest properly
- Minimize the stress
- Practice good hand-washing and oral hygiene
Are there any other immunity-boosting foods for children?
As children’s immunity is in the process, they are more likely to develop a cold or flu. Therefore, when it comes to the proper nourishment of your children, there’s no compromise.
Apart from the above list, your child should drink a glass of milk and eat two eggs every day. The protein intake will shield them from various infections.
Serve them a bowl of various fruits daily. Make sure that they drink enough water or else it can lead to dehydration and eventually, make them prone to diseases.
Children whose immunity systems are weak, are prone to catching a cold or flu. You can talk with the pediatrician for a food table that can be followed.