A robust immune system is the core foundation of a healthy person.
Organs, cells, tissues, and proteins make up the immune system. Together, they work to carry out bodily processes to fight pathogens – the viruses, bacteria, and foreign bodies that cause disease and infection.
The immune system triggers an immune response when it comes into contact with a pathogen. Antibodies are released in this process, which kills the pathogens by attaching to the antigens on them.
Various factors contribute to making the immune system strong and healthy. However, the first step is to start incorporating immunity-boosting foods into your diet. Following are some of the best foods to eat to strengthen your immunity.
Do you know why people turn to vitamin C as soon as they catch a cold? It's because it helps strengthen the immune system. It is believed that vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells, which are crucial for fighting infections. Vitamin C can be found in abundance in almost all citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemon, grapefruits, tangerines, limes, clementines, etc. Since your body does not produce vitamin C, it is crucial to take a daily dose for sustained health.
If you opt for vitamin C supplements, make sure you're not taking more than 2,000 milligrams a day. However, our bodies process the vitamins and nutrients obtained from natural foods much better. So it is better to depend on citrus fruits for your vitamin C intake. A glass of lemon water in the morning and one or two oranges, grapefruits, or tangerines throughout the day are usually enough to provide you with an adequate amount of vitamin C.
Berries have gained the reputation of superfood. They contain a type of flavonoid known as anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can boost a person's immune system. It has also been noted that flavonoids play a crucial role in the respiratory tract's immune defence system.
Various researches have also shown that people who eat foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to catch an upper respiratory tract infection (common cold) than those who didn't.
One of the healthiest and most nutritious vegetables that you can put on your plate is Broccoli. It is packed with vitamins A, C, and E and fibre and various antioxidants, including sulforaphane. All of these make it an excellent immunity-boosting food, and Broccoli should consume it regularly for the best health benefits.
However, cooking it too much can reduce its nutrient content. Therefore, it is better to cook it as little as possible or even consume it raw. The best way to cook it without losing nutrients is by steaming it in salted water.
Garlic is commonly used in almost every cuisine around the world. Aside from adding a zing to your dishes, it also has some excellent health benefits. Early civilizations recognized these benefits, as garlic was used as a common home remedy to prevent common colds and other illnesses.
It contains a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin, which seem to be the reason behind its immunity-boosting properties. Additionally, garlic helps slow down the arteries' hardening, and there's some evidence that it may help lower blood pressure.
Ginger is another ingredient that is commonly used in home remedies. It is also used to add flavour to a variety of dishes, desserts, and even teas. Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties, which are the reason behind its health benefits. It can help reduce the symptoms of conditions such as sore throat, inflammatory illnesses, and nausea.
With regular use, it may even decrease chronic pain and lower cholesterol levels. The best way to reap its benefits is by regularly drinking ginger tea. You can also add lemon, turmeric, or cinnamon to it for additional benefits.
Besides being rich in vitamin C, spinach is also packed with numerous nutrition, antioxidants, and beta carotene, including flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamin E. All of these work together to increase the infection-fighting abilities of the body.
Similar to Broccoli, spinach retains most of its nutrients when it is cooked as little as possible. However, it is recommended to cook it lightly, making it easier to absorb the vitamins A and allows the oxalic acid to release other nutrients.
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant that is crucial for a robust immune system. Since it is a fat-soluble vitamin, it requires the presence of fat to be adequately absorbed. Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E and also contain an adequate amount of healthy fat. They also contain fibre, manganese, and magnesium.
A quarter cup of almonds (23 to 25 whole, shelled almonds) provides about 50% of your daily vitamin E requirements and only contains about 163 calories. They make a great snack, and you can also keep a small packet in your bag or pocket to carry on the go.
When the body breaks down foods or comes in contact with pollutants, it produces free radicals. These can damage the body's cells and may contribute to disease. Dark chocolate contains an antioxidant know as theobromine. This helps boost the immune system by protecting the body's cells against free radicals.
However, despite their benefits, dark chocolates are high in saturated fat and calories. Therefore, consume them in moderation to help fix your sweet-cravings.
Adding the above foods to your diet can strengthen your immune system and enhance your ability to fight off infections. However, the immune system is complex, and making smart food choices is only one aspect of supporting it. It is also essential to be mindful of other aspects of your life, such as exercising and refraining from smoking.