Aparna, 35, is a homemaker and mother of two. Like many young parents, she does not get enough sleep and often feels tired and worn out. But, what worries her most is the health of her sons, for they are both prone to repeated bouts of cold and flu. Lately she herself also seems to be falling sick more frequently. Aparna decided to speak to her sons’ paediatrician about this and was referred by him to a dietician. Imagine her consternation when the dietician told her that she and her sons were suffering from malnutrition, which in turn was weakening their immunity! Following a diet correction as recommended by the Dietician, Aparna and her two boys are now much healthier…
Nutrition and our Immune System
Appropriate and adequate nutrition is required for all cells to function optimally and this includes the cells in the immune system. Optimal nutrition helps to support the functions of immune cells, allowing them to initiate effective responses against pathogens and to avoid any underlying chronic inflammation.
A well functioning immune system is necessary for survival. Certain foods can help you keep your immune system strong by reducing or delaying the onset of chronic diseases.
Include these in your daily diet to boost your immune system
1. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits are not only flavourful but they are also good for you. They are rich in Vitamin C and contain other vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function properly, including vitamin B, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and copper. They are also rich in plant compounds and have various health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Choose a fruit depending on the season and your geographical location.
Some citrus fruits include:
2. Red bell peppers
Red bell peppers are rich in vitamin C, twice as much as citrus fruits. They are also full of beta carotene. Besides boosting your immune system, vitamin C keeps your skin healthy while beta carotene helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.
Broccoli is supercharged with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fibre, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your plate. The best way to keep its power intact is to cook it as little as possible or not at all.
Garlic not only adds zing to food but also helps fight infections. Garlic helps in slowing down hardening of arteries and lowering blood pressure. Garlic’s immune boosting properties come from a heavy concentration of sulphur containing compounds, such as allicin.
Ginger helps reduce inflammation and nausea. Ginger not just helps in boosting the immune system but also decreases chronic pain and has cholesterol lowering properties.
Spinach is rich in vitamin C, packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, known to increase the infection fighting ability of our immune systems. It is the healthiest when it is cooked as little as possible so that it retains the nutrients. However, light cooking is advisable as it helps to enhance its vitamin A and also helps in releasing other nutrients from oxalic acid.
Yogurt stimulates the immune system to help fight diseases. It is a great source of vitamin D, which helps boost our body’s natural defences against diseases.
Almonds are packed with healthy fats and vitamins. The right quantity of almonds (approximately, half a cup) can provide almost 100 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E.
Known for its anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory effects, it can also improve your immune response due to curcumin, a compound found in turmeric.
10. Green tea
Green tea contains flavonoids which can reduce risks of a cold and can also strengthen the immune system.
11. Sunflower seeds
They are a rich source of vitamin E, an antioxidant which helps improve immune function.
It is important to eat a healthy and balanced diet to support the immune system along with keeping other lifestyle factors in mind, like exercising daily and not smoking.
Consult our Dietician for a healthy diet plan.