Eating healthy is vital to building good immunity. Healthy foods help trigger the right signals within our bodies and give a boost to our immune system. While junk food is tasty to the tongue and provides a distraction from boredom and stress, it is also harmful to our body. It is important to plan and prepare our meals, keeping in mind its nutritional value. The following is a guide on some key nutrients that help boost immunity along with examples of food items that contain these nutrients:
Vitamin C: This has well-known and immense benefits for the immune system. Vitamin C can be obtained not only from citrus fruits like orange, sweet lime, guava, grapes, amla but also from just lemon wedges, leafy vegetables such as spinach or bell peppers, brussel sprouts, strawberries, tomatoes or green chilies. In fact, Vitamin C is in so many foods that most people do not need to take supplements
Vitamin E: Like vitamin C, vitamin E can be a powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight off infection. Almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds are all high in vitamin E.
Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is an essential nutrient for the body since it is part of nearly two hundred biomedical reactions which play a part in how our body’s immune system functions. Foods high in vitamin B6 includes chicken, egg, tuna, bananas and breakfast cereals such as oats, all bran etc.
Vitamin A: The antioxidant benefits of Vitamin A help to strengthen the immune system against any type of infection. Vitamin A can be found in foods that are high in colorful compounds called carotenoids— carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and orange and yellow colors vegetables.
Vitamin D: Many people have a hard time absorbing Vitamin D from sunlight; however, this nutrient plays a crucial role in our immunity. For an added advantage you can make your body warm by spending time on your balcony or rooftop for at least half an hour per day. In case of a deficiency please consult a nutritionist or doctor for advice on supplements.
Iron: Iron carries oxygen to cells in the human body. Your body can easily absorb “heme iron,” from eggs, dry fruits, spinach, beet root, beans etc.
Selenium: Selenium seems to have a powerful effect on the immune system. It can be found in chicken, nuts, cereals, mushrooms etc.
Zinc: Zinc boosts immunity and is available in oysters, crab, lean meats and poultry, yogurt and chickpeas.
Condiments & Spices: Ginger, garlic, turmeric, black pepper, green tea also has immune boosting effects.
Adhering to good nutritional habits, mindful eating, and physical exercise to the extent possible is the primary rule to creating a foundation of good health. Reducing portion sizes, avoiding high calorie food, binge eating and adding a good amount of protein in daily menu will help you to stay away not only from weight gain but also strengthen your immunity.
By Soumita Biswas, Chief Nutritionist, Aster RV Hospital