Falling ill is not a risk that you would want to take, especially during this widespread pandemic. Yes, washing hands, staying at home and practising social distancing is important, but what about your immunity? Your immune system plays an important role in keeping you protected from diseases and that's why it's essential to build your immunity.
Immunity cannot be strengthened overnight. While regular exercise is non-negotiable, consuming rich foods to boost immunity is even more crucial. From fruits and vegetables to immunity-boosting drinks, here are some superfoods that you must include in your diet.
Learn which nutrients these immunity-boosting fruits carry so that you can start your mornings with a refreshing boost to your body’s natural defences.
Grapefruit is a tropical citrus fruit that’s rich in antioxidants, fibre and other nutrients, making it one of the healthiest fruits you can eat.
It’s rich in Vitamin C that has antioxidant properties. It also has Vitamin A that helps protect against inflammation and infectious diseases. The high content of zinc, copper and iron in grapefruit also work together to boost the immune system. FYI, it also controls your appetite. Fibre-rich fruits increase your digestion time and slow down the rate at which your stomach empties and therefore, it can aid your weight loss process as well.
Another fruit that is known to be rich in Vitamin C is orange. Orange juice is a powerful antioxidant and plays an important role in building your immune system. Rich in potassium, magnesium and folate, orange can help in promoting bone formation, wound healing and gum health. Orange juice has also proven to increase levels of citrate in the urine and decrease urine acidity, thus preventing kidney stones. However, since it's high in calories and sugar, monitor the amount you eat.
Lemons are a good source of Vitamin C and hence it is one of the best fruits to increase immunity. The soluble fibre and the plant compound lower the risk of heart disease, anaemia and kidney stones. Lemons also aid weight loss and can improve your digestive health.
Limes are one of the immunity-boosting fruits that are rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C along with calcium, iron, potassium and thiamine. They help in building immunity while lowering the risk of heart diseases, preventing kidney stones and aiding iron absorption. In a 2014 study, researchers found that the essential oil from Kaffir lime could stop acne-causing bacteria.
Loaded with Vitamin C, papayas also have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory properties. The immunity-boosting fruit also has decent amounts of folate, magnesium and potassium, which have proven to be beneficial for the immune system.
When it comes to foods that increase immunity, it’s impossible to leave kiwi out of the list. This delicious tropical fruit comes packed with a number of essential vitamins and minerals. A recent study by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition ranked fruits on the basis of their nutrition density per 100 gm of the fruit. And according to the findings, Kiwi, with an index of 16, has the highest nutrition density, followed by papaya (14), mango (12) and orange (11).
Kiwis are rich in Vitamin C and E. While Vit C helps boost the immune system, Vit E lowers the cholesterol levels, besides fighting against cancer-causing cells. High in magnesium content, kiwi powers up your energy levels and improves nerve and muscle functions.
Guava is one of the best foods to boost immunity. The high amount of Vitamin C present in the fruit helps you to maintain a healthy immune system. It’s also said to have antimicrobial benefits, which means that guava can help kill off the bad bacteria and viruses that can lead to infections. Loaded with fibre and low in calories, this tropical fruit will be an excellent addition to a healthy diet.
Yes, your favourite summer fruit may also improve your immunity! The king of fruits is not only delicious but also boasts of impressive nutritional value. It has Vitamin C, A, E, K, Vitamin B5 and magnesium in abundance, and hence contributes to improving your immune system.
Mango is also packed with plant compounds like polyphenols that function as antioxidants. It also contains a unique antioxidant called mangiferin that might protect heart cells against inflammation and oxidative stress.
Not only is watermelon extremely hydrating and light on the stomach, but its nutritional composition also helps enhance the immunity level. The body needs Vitamin C, A and B6 for proper immune function, and this immunity-boosting fruit has them in abundance. This refreshing fruit is also soaked with nutrients like lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids. Lycopene has been linked with heart health, prostate cancer prevention and bone health. To really maximise the intake of lycopene, let your watermelon fully ripen.
Humans are incapable of producing Vitamin C naturally and a cup of strawberries a day gives you the daily requirement of the vitamin, which in return boosts your immunity. It also works as an excellent antioxidant. Strawberries are rich in antioxidants like lutein and zeathancins that help fight free radicals and reduce their effects on the body. Ellagic acid that’s found in strawberries is known to control the growth of cancer cells.
Vegetables, indeed, are the best foods to boost immunity. From garlic to ginger and even tomatoes, most veggies contribute to making your immune system stronger.
Packed with Vitamins A, C and E along with fibre and several antioxidants, broccoli is the healthiest vegetable that you can put on your plate. It also contains sulfur compounds that may boost the production of the antioxidant product, glutathione. In terms of support to the immune system, glutathione works by attacking free radicals to minimise their potential damage to the body. The key to keeping its nutrients intact is to cook it as little as possible.
According to a 2015 study by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, including mushrooms in your diet is a great way to give your immunity a boost. The research showed that having shiitake mushrooms every day for four weeks resulted in a significant increase in numbers of immunity-boosting T-cells. They also noticed a reduction in inflammation-inducing proteins. Mushrooms are also a great source of Vitamin D and several B Vitamins.
As mentioned above, citrus fruits are a good source of Vitamin C, but if you really want to load up, go for red or yellow bell peppers. Plus, bell peppers are packed with the antioxidant beta-carotene and have a small amount of Vitamin E as well. FYI, a medium red pepper contains more than twice Vitamin C in comparison to a medium orange.
Just like broccoli, spinach is the healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible. The leafy greens made it to our list because it’s rich in Vitamin C and the antioxidant beta-carotene, and both of them are known to increase the infection-fighting ability of the immune system. In fact, leafy green vegetables, in general, are considered to be immunity booster foods for adults as they are a good source of folate.
While garlic is primarily used as a spice, botanically, it is actually considered a vegetable. Why? ‘Coz it comes from an edible plant with a bulb, stem and leaves. Garlic contains compounds that can help boost the immune system. It’s one of the best immunity boosting vegetables that is used in common home remedies to treat cold and flu. A heavy concentration of sulfur-containing products like allicin contributes even more to its immune-boosting properties.
It’s no surprise that we turn to this ingredient after getting sick. Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties that contribute to several health benefits. Consuming ginger tea or medicinal ginger concoction on an empty stomach can strengthen your immune system. It also helps in reducing cholesterol levels and regulating blood sugar levels.
Sweet potato is another vegetable that’s packed with nutrients. Rich in fibre, Vitamins A, B6, C and other minerals like manganese and potassium, sweet potatoes contribute to strengthening the immune system. They are one of the richest natural sources of the antioxidant beta-carotene that is converted to Vitamin A in the body. A healthy gut is an important part of a healthy immune system and consuming the immunity-boosting vegetable promotes gut health.
With its anti-inflammatory properties, cucumber is highly beneficial for boosting the immune system. Considered to be one of the best vegetables to increase immunity, cucumber has about 95% water and small amounts of Vitamin A and K.
Green vegetables like kale are some of the best foods to boost immunity. It’s loaded with Vitamin C, E, iron and zinc and helps in fighting off any infection.
Due to their high concentration of Vitamin C, tomatoes are another excellent vegetable to increase immunity. Just one medium tomato contains more than 16 mg of Vitamin C which is enough for the daily requirement of the body.
Besides including these superfoods in your home-cooked meals, you can also incorporate some immunity boosting drinks in your diet. Check them out!
This immunity-boosting drink is not only healthy but tasty too.
- 2 large carrots
- 2 oranges
- 2-3 green apples
How to make it:
- Wash off the carrots, apples and the oranges. Cut off the tops of the carrots and slice the apples and oranges into quarters.
- Take a juicer and start by adding carrots to it.
- Now, add the apples and then oranges. Mix all the juices together thoroughly and enjoy.
This one is common to cure cold and cough, and a known home remedy for the same.
- 2 pieces star anise
- 2” cinnamon stick
How to make it:
- Boil two cups of water and add star anise and cinnamon to it. Boil it for 10 minutes with a lid on and leave it for 3 minutes. Strain the tea and serve.
This herbal blend of several immunity-boosting foods for adults comes to your rescue in fighting flu and infections.
- 1 tsp ajwain
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 5-6 tulsi leaves
- 1/2 inch ginger
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp jaggery
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- Half a lemon
How to make it:
- Add all the ingredients in 500 ml water and boil for 15 minutes on medium heat. Strain it into a cup and squeeze a bit of lemon juice.
This healthy and creamy smoothie is packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
- 1 cup roughly chopped spinach and kale
- One-and-a-half cup of mango, pineapple and kiwi
- One-and-a-half cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
How to make it:
- Add the spinach and kale to the blender with the almond milk and blend them well. Now add the fruits, ginger and lemon juice and blend them smooth. If you feel that the smoothie is too thick, add some more almond milk to adjust the consistency.
Ideal to consume on an empty stomach, this turmeric shot is one of the best immunity boosting drinks.
- 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp of turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp of black pepper powder
How to make it:
- Take a small cup of lukewarm water and add the turmeric powder and black pepper powder to it. Give it a good stir. Now add the apple cider vinegar and drink up!
So now that you have ample information about the best foods to boost immunity, it's time to include them in your daily intake.
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