We all acknowledge the importance of a healthy lifestyle. It not only depends on your workout routine but also on the kind of food you eat. Eating the right food not only helps you stay lean but boosts your immune system which is your body’s defence against infections. Your immune system consists of organs, cells, tissues, and proteins. Together, these carry out functions that fight off pathogens, which are the viruses, bacteria, and foreign bodies that cause infection or disease. The stronger your immune system, the healthier you will be. This is why eating the right food to increase immunity is essential for your health.
While there are plenty of immune boosting foods, you should also be aware of foods that weaken the immune system.
Below are a few foods that should avoid to have a good immune system:
Soda is made of artificial colouring, artificial sweeteners, and artificial flavours that make you fat. Keeping the weight issue aside, soda has damaging effects like decreased brain function, moodiness, allergies, and suppresses your immune system. It is advised to skip soda as it has zero nutritional value. Soda is associated with weight gain, risk of type 2 diabetes, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Processed Foods:
When you are tired, it seems convenient to go and grab a packet of chips from your kitchen shelf. But, have you ever stopped for a minute and wondered about its effect on your immune system? A large number of calories in processed food may lead to numerous health problems like auto-inflammatory disease, increased inflammation, and reduced control of infection. Did you know that your poor diet choices get encoded into your DNA scaffolding and the gut microbiome? This means that your food habits can permanently change the balance of bacteria in your body, therefore, can weaken the immune system.
- Refined carbohydrates:
You must have heard of good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates. Basically, refined carbohydrates (also known as processed carbs) are bad for one’s health. Refined carbs are basically present in two kinds of food - sugars and refined grains. The main dietary sources of refined carbohydrates are white flour, white bread, white rice, sodas, maida, sweets, breakfast cereals, and added sugars, of course. These foods disrupt the integrity of your gut microbiome and the good bacteria it contains, leading to a weakened immune system that further makes you prone to various diseases. Refined carbs and sugar-filled diets are also linked to chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, digestive disorders, etc.
- Alcoholic beverages:
Alcohol can affect us in many ways, but did you know it can weaken your immune system too? Let’s understand how alcohol affects your immune system. Alcohol can disrupt the gut barrier, further allowing more bacteria to pass into the blood. These rogue bacteria can cause inflammation in the liver which can further lead to liver damage. When you drink a lot of alcohol, it can also disrupt your digestive system. Hence, it is advisable to avoid drinking alcohol.
Now that you know about the foods that weaken the immune system, let’s have a look at immune boosting foods and drinks. Feeding your body with immune boosting foods can help you prevent winter cold and other various infections. So, it’s important to eat nutrient rich foods to improve immunity so you stay stronger.
Immune System booster foods:
We all had been forced by your parents to eat a lot of spinach when we were a kid, right? This is because spinach is one of the best immune boosting foods. Spinach is rich in Vitamin C that helps fight infections. Spinach is also rich in various antioxidants, which are known to increase the infection-fighting ability of your immune system.
Tip: Cook your spinach as little as possible because light cooking enhances its Vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid.
This green vegetable is super rich in vitamins (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K ) and minerals. It is rich in numerous antioxidants that make it one of the best immune boosting foods. Eating broccoli is good for your digestive system because of the fibres present in it.
Tip: Boiling can leach most of the valuable nutrients from your green veggies like spinach and broccoli. Therefore, just like spinach, cook your Broccoli as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients - or better, eat it raw!
Garlic has been used from centuries as the early civilization realized its infection-fighting properties. Today, garlic is found in almost every home and used in many cuisines. It also adds a good flavour to the food. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties come from a heavy concentration of a sulfur-containing compound called allicin. When garlic is eaten, alliin compound turns into allicin that gives garlic its distinctive smell and taste. Allicin is an unstable compound, so it quickly turns to sulphur containing compounds that give garlic its medicinal properties.
Tip: Adding garlic daily in your food helps prevent the common cold and flu. And eating garlic when you’re sick can help you recover faster.
Ginger has been used as a medicine for common cold and flu for centuries. Ginger is packed with gingerols, paradols, sesquiterpenes, shogaols, and zingerone. These consist of powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that make it one of the best foods to increase immunity. Ginger also soothes nausea and digestive ailments, like bloating and indigestion. Ginger also helps in weight loss, diabetes, and exhibits anti-cancer properties.
Tip: For reaping maximum benefits, eat raw ginger or make ginger shots at home.
Yogurt is one of the healthiest foods to turn to when you’re looking to eat something yummy. Probiotics (friendly bacteria that are also present in your digestive system) present in yogurt makes it an immune system booster food. These probiotics boost the healthy bacteria in your body thus helps to boost your immune system.
Tip: There are many ways to add yogurt to your daily diet - add yogurt to your oats, or use it as a base for salad dressings, or eat it with fruits. Nothing can go with yogurt!
If you’re a non-vegetarian, you would be aware of the health benefits of poultry such as chicken and turkey. When you’re sick, a bowl of hot chicken soup can feel like heaven. It helps you fight cold and recover faster and protect you from falling sick in the first place. The protein in chicken and turkey also provides you with amino acids, which are used by your body to build antibodies to fight infection.
Tip: Boiling poultry—to make soup—releases gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients that help your gut and immune system as well.
Almonds are rich in iron, protein, and Vitamin E that acts as antioxidants and are essential for your immune system. Eat a handful of almonds daily to boost your immune system and sharpen your memory.
Tip: Add almonds to your oats, yogurt, or eat them directly as snacks. You can also soak almonds overnight and then eat them.
Mushrooms are rich in B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin and minerals like selenium that helps boost your immune system. Mushrooms are also added in various dishes to enhance the flavour.
Tip: Top mushrooms in your soup, lasagna, or eggs.
From today onwards, include these foods to improve immunity and stay healthy and happy.
From our childhood, we had been told to eat at least one fruit daily. There is also a famous saying - “An apple a day keeps a doctor away” and we can’t agree more. Let’s have a look at fruits that boost the immune system.
Fruits that boost immune system:
- Citrus Fruits:
Citrus fruits like oranges, grapes, and tangerines are rich in Vitamin C. Vitamin C is known to increase white blood cells that fight against infections. Since your body doesn’t store Vitamin C, it is advisable to take Vitamin C on a daily basis.
Papaya is loaded with Vitamin C. One papaya contains 222% of Vitamin C, recommended to take daily. They also contain digestive enzymes known as papain that have anti-inflammatory effects.
Like papayas, kiwis contain tons of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts white blood cells to fight infection, while other nutrients help your rest of the body to function properly.
- Red bell pepper:
You had been told that citrus fruits and vegetables have the maximum amount of Vitamin C, we are here to prove that wrong! Red bell peppers contain twice the amount of Vitamin C as in citrus fruits. Besides fighting with the infection, Vitamin C also provides you with clear and glowing skin. Include red bell pepper in your salad or make a delicious vegetable and serve it hot with chapati or rice.
We all know carrots are rich in Vitamin A. But did you know that carrot also contains antioxidants, which help your body fight against infections, cell damage, and inflammation. Eat raw carrots or drink carrot juice to keep the infections away.
Pomegranate is one of the healthiest fruits one can eat. It provides a plethora of health benefits. Pomegranate has antioxidant, antiviral and antitumor properties and is said to be a good source of vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and also folic acid. Consuming pomegranate protects/lowers the risk of many diseases.
Zinc is known to have virus-fighting properties as it helps create and activate white blood cells. It’s the zinc in Oysters that make them immunity booster food.
Add these fruits to your daily diet to boost your immune system.
Summer is all about drinking more fluids to keep your body hydrated and feel relaxed from the heat. But, avoid drinks that can weaken your immunity and include healthy drinks to boost the immune system. Below is the list of drinks to boost the immune system.
Drinks to boost immune system:
There are countless benefits of drinking good amounts of water daily, and these benefits can’t be emphasized enough. But, did you know that water helps you boost your immune system? Yes, you heard it right! Water helps to carry oxygen to your body cells which improve the functioning of your body system. It also helps to remove toxins from your body. Therefore, drink lots of water to prevent toxins from accumulating in your body.
Tip: Add lemon to a cold glass of water. Lemons are rich in Vitamin C and act as a great fruit for boosting the immune system. Adding lemon to your glass of water will take its boosting property to the next level.
- Green Tea:
Many people can’t go about their daily tasks without their mug of coffee. Rather than indulging in caffeinated drinks, it’s advisable to make green tea a part of your daily lifestyle. Green teas are rich in antioxidants called Polyphenols that are efficient infection fighters. Polyphenols protect your body against potential viruses and infections, thus protecting you from falling sick. Even other teas -- Oolong Tea, White Tea, Black Tea, Ginger Tea -- help you boost your immune system. Green tea also helps in shedding those extra kilos.
Tip: Drink 2 cup of green tea to boost your immune system.
- Berry smoothie:
Smoothies are a great option to add zinc to your boring food routine. And berry smoothie is one of the healthiest options as berries are rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants that make them a great immune boosting drink. You can make your smoothie with other fruits such as orange and tomato, watermelon, mint, and lime, etc. These are known drinks to boost the immune system.
Tip: To reap the maximum benefits, mix up a few different varieties of berries to make your berry smoothie. You can add blueberries and raspberries with coconut milk to make a healthylicious smoothie!
- Aptonia Sports Drink:
Aptonia sports drink is one of the easiest ways to regain energy after a sports practice. It is filled with vitamins like B6, B12, and magnesium to boost your immunity. This drink is completely made of natural flavour and natural colour. This drink is designed to hydrate and replenish lost vitamins and minerals during the sports. You can buy this drink online from Decathlon. All Aptonia products are tested at every stage of their development by Decathlon’s technical partners and sports users in order to best meet their needs.
- Pumpkin seed Milk:
Adding pumpkin seeds into your diet will not just boost your immunity but also help your bone health, mental health, hair and skin, urinary health, and menopause symptoms. This pumpkin seed milk is easy to prepare (can be prepared in 10 minutes), rich in nutrients and makes for a perfect smoothie, desserts, and savoury recipes.
Now switch to the above-mentioned food to increase immunity to stay healthy!