Keeping your immune system healthy, directly means protecting yourself from many diseases. In winter, colds and flu are quite common but have you ever thought about why few people get flu while others do not.
The reason is their immunity. Some people have a naturally strong immune system, while others are weak. No matter whether your immunity is naturally strong or weak, you can definitely boost your immunity with some powerful foods. This will not only make your winter flu-free, but it will also protect you from many diseases.
When it comes to immunity, the four major nutrients that need to be taken into consideration are as follow:
Vitamin C is the most crucial nutrient for boosting your immunity. Vitamin C supports various cellular functions of the immune system, thus contributing to immune defence.
Vitamin A promotes as well as regulates the immune system. Therefore, it enhances the immune function and provides an enhanced defence against multiple infectious diseases.
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and can modulate immune functions. Studies suggest vitamin E improves the decreased immunity in aged people.
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory means they prevent inflammation or swelling in the body.
Zinc is an essential mineral that is crucial for the normal development and function of cells mediating immunity.
These five nutrients are crucial for maintaining and boosting immunity. A deficiency in any of these nutrients may weaken your immune system. Eating foods rich in zinc, omega-3, vitamin A, C, and E, help you build a stronger immune system. Let’s see which power foods contain an abundance of these crucial nutrients.
Below are the 10 power foods to boost your immunity, so, start adding them to your diet for a disease-free, healthier life:
1. Citrus fruits
If you think of immunity, the first name that comes to mind is vitamin C! and why not? Vitamin C is actually the best nutrient when it comes to immunity. It protects against immune system deficiencies, skin wrinkling, cardiovascular disease, eye disease, etc.
Vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells, which are an essential part of the immune system. These are the key to fight infections by killing bacteria and viruses that invade the body. Citrus fruits such as lemon, tangerine, orange, and grapefruit are high in Vitamin C.
Citrus fruits are a natural antioxidant that boosts the immune system. These have antiviral and antibacterial properties that prevent infections, bacterial growth, and relieve nausea.
Squeeze one medium lemon in one glass of warm water (250 ml) and drink it every morning. You need vitamin C daily for continued health, so make a habit of taking lemon water instead of plain water every morning.
Curcumin is a potent antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric not only boosts your immunity but is also very effective in treating both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Add one tablespoon of turmeric powder in hot milk (250 ml) and drink it every night just before bed and see the magic yourself.
Garlic is an adaptogen, which means it helps the body to adapt to varied environmental and psychological stresses and supports all the major systems, such as the nervous system, immune system, and hormonal system.
It regulates blood sugar; if they are too high, it will lower it and vice-versa. Garlic contains the active compound allicin that improves the immune cells’ ability to fight off the flu and reduces the risk of infection. Garlic also has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties that help in inhibiting the growth of some bacteria and fight against viral infections.
Taking one clove of crushed garlic on an empty stomach every day not only boosts your immunity but also normalizes all major systems in your body. If your body is already acidic or warm in nature, limit the consumption to 3 times a week.
The bioactive substance gingerol in the ginger root has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. It helps in lowering the risk of infections and relieving a sore throat. It also helps fight viruses such as rhinoviruses, human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV), which cause colds, and many respiratory infections.
Ginger is a strong antioxidant, it naturally boosts your immunity. Drinking ginger tea every morning in the winter season keeps you warm and saves you from cold and flu.
5. Flax seeds
Flax seeds are rich in Omega-3 fats that help protect your body against bacteria and viruses, improving your immunity. Flax seeds contain the highest concentrations of dietary lignans that help protect against cancer by blocking the growth and spread of tumour cells.
These are also a great source of iron that ensures your immune system gets the required oxygen to fight infection. The omega-3 fatty acids of flax seeds fight inflammation in the body and prevent
6. Red and green bell peppers
If you think orange or lemon is the richest source of vitamin C, then here is the surprise, bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as any citrus fruit. They are also a rich source of beta carotene, which converts into vitamin A in your body.
The high content of both vitamin C and vitamin A in bell peppers enhance your immune function and provide enhanced defence against multiple infectious diseases. Vitamin A is an anti-inflammation vitamin that helps in treating and preventing arthritis and contact dermatitis. Eat cooked bell peppers because cooking increases vitamin C content in bell peppers.
Cashews are a great source of zinc and copper. Zinc plays an important role in the production of immune cells and antioxidant enzymes that help fight disease and infection.
Cashews have antioxidant effects that help your body fight off oxidative damage. Cashews speed up the healing of wounds as they are rich in vitamin K. Vitamin E of cashews help decrease inflammation in your body.
Pregnant women must eat cashews as they help with the growth and development of the baby.
Papaya has antioxidant and immunostimulant effects that reduce oxidative stress and improve immune functions. Papayas also contain potent antioxidants known as carotenoids — particularly lycopene. Carotenoids are converted into vitamin A in the body and help regulate the immune system.
Papaya is also a great source of vitamin B, C, and K and is known as an excellent immunity booster. It slows down the ageing process and helps your skin look more youthful and supple. One medium-sized papaya can fulfil your daily requirement of vitamin A.
It is said that the healthier your gut is, the better will be your immunity. Yogurt is the best probiotic. Yogurt contains lactobacillus, a probiotic, or good bacteria that help keep your gut healthy, and also gives your immune system a boost.
Yogurt is also high in vitamins and protein. Due to the immunostimulatory effects of yogurt, it helps fight against diseases such as infection, GI disorders, cancer, and asthma. It is actually very beneficial for older people. Go for plain yogurt, not the flavoured ones, and eat it with your lunch.
10. Green tea
The list is incomplete without the mention of green tea. The higher concentration of polyphenols and flavonoids, the two powerful antioxidants, make green tea a gem for boosting your immunity. These antioxidants kill the free radicals in the body and increase your longevity.
Free radicals are the by-products of the process where cells use oxygen to generate energy in the body. At low or moderate levels, free radicals are harmless, but at high concentrations, they cause oxidative stress, a deleterious process that can damage all cell structures.
Oxidative stress plays a crucial role in the development of arthritis, autoimmune disorders, cancer, ageing, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.
The powerful antioxidants in green tea kill these free radicals and help in fighting illnesses, like the common cold, arthritis, ageing, and cancer. Start drinking green tea if you have not started yet!
The Best Immune System Supplements Reviewed
I have written many reviews about the best immune system supplements. If you want to know how these immune system support supplements work and if they can help you improve immune system, you may read the immune system supplements reviews below:
These foods definitely boost your immunity, but to keep your immune system healthy, it is also important to have a healthy lifestyle that includes getting sufficient sleep, doing yoga, taking a morning walk, and managing your stress.
Definitely, there are dietary supplements available in the market to boost your immunity, but their effects are limited. One good thing about going natural is, it comes with all benefits with no side effects. Most of the immune booster foods also enhance your skin and hair health, so it’s a win-win situation.