Our diet has changed tremendously as humans have developed and progressed over time, from the meat-heavy diets from our hunter-gatherer days to the advent of agriculture years ago.
How Diet Influence Immune Function?
With food and diet playing such a vital role in maintaining a healthy immune system, it is important to a healthy diet. While no single food will boost your immune system, what counts is a nutritious well-balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.
DIET IS THE KEY
Diet is the key to better immunity.
Just think about your car, if you put low-quality oil or dirty oil to fuel your car. What will happen?
Slowly slowly the performance of the car will degrade and it will stop.
The same applies to humans also. Diet is the fuel of your body, it should be of good quality so that your body system performs well as well your immune system.
What you want is a well-planned and balanced immune system.
Anything good for your general health is good for your immune system conversely, anything that deleterious to your general health is bad for it.
WHAT ARE THE FOODS WHICH INCREASE YOUR IMMUNITY?
- Broccoli: Broccoli is rich in vitamin C. it also contains potent antioxidants like sulforaphane. It is a very good choice of vegetables to eat regularly to support your immune system.
- Spinach: It is a vegetable-filled with nutrients. It will help you boost your immune system as it contains many essential nutrients and antioxidants like flavonoids, carotenoids, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. These nutrients support your immune system and make you more energetic.
- Almonds: Almonds are an outstanding source of vitamin E. They also contain manganese, magnesium, and fiber. Just a hand full of almonds may help your immune system to boost significantly.
- Orange: Orange is best for vitamin C. it is an antioxidant that reduces the duration of common cold symptoms and improves the function of your immune system.
- Blueberry: Blueberries are rich in flavonoid which is also called anthocyanin, which contains antioxidant properties that help to boost a person’s immune system. It plays an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defense system. Blueberries are considered one of the best fruit for a person who is struggling from a lack of immunity power.
- Dark chocolate: You might wonder how dark chocolate boosts immunity? Dark chocolate contains theobromine, it is an antioxidant that helps you to boost your immune system by protecting the body’s cells and may contribute to various diseases. They are also high in calories and saturated fats, which is good for your immune system.
- Sunflower seeds: Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E. This antioxidant improves the immune system of the body. It fights the radicals which can damage the cells of your body.
- Red Bell Pepper: it is a great source of vitamin C. So if you don’t like sweet or sugary stuff you can go with this one.
- Papaya: Another great source of vitamin C. Apart from that they also have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects. They are rich in potassium, magnesium, and folate, all of which are beneficial to your immune system and overall health.
- Kiwi: Like papayas, kiwis are naturally a ton of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin C. These nutrients keep your body functioning properly and boost the immune system.
Apart from these, there are other foods as well which will help to improve your immune system like Citrus fruits, garlic, ginger, yogurt, turmeric, etc.
WHAT ARE THE DRINKS THAT WILL BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM?
Making juice, smoothies, and nutritional drinks is one of the tastiest and easiest ways to stay healthy. Here are some drinks you can prepare at home with minimal ingredients.
1. Ashwagandha drink: Ashwagandha is an Indian herb and is well known to boost your immunity instantly. Take one glass of hot milk and add 1 tablespoon of ashwagandha powder and consume this drink once a day. (best time of consumption is before bed).
2. Turmeric drink: Turmeric is a common and well-known spice of India. It boosts your immunity through its amazing antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties.
3. Giloy drink: It is an ayurvedic herb, also known as Amrita (Root of immortality). It helps to remove the toxins, purifies the blood, and fights the bacteria in your body. ( it will be better to have an empty stomach).
4. Mint drink: this is best to boost the immune system instantly. This drink has all the antioxidants to fight the unwanted microbes in the body.
5. Citrus juice (orange, grapefruit, etc.): Packed with vitamin C. These have powerful properties which protect you from the substances which can damage your body. The notable nutrients that these fruits contain are potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, vitamin C, and Zinc.
6. Tomato juice: Tomatoes are rich in vitamin B9, commonly known as folate. It helps lower your risk of infection and also provides a modest amount of magnesium, an anti-inflammatory.
It also contains vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K, which are great sources to augment your immune system.
7. Watermelon juice: Watermelon is rich in vitamin C and arginine (which can bolster your immune system) but also can help relieve your muscle soreness is a common symptom of flu, especially in older adults. It contains arginine, citrulline, magnesium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
SOME EXTRA POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND
Here we have been discussing, Importance of diet and lifestyle in building a robust immune system. Many factors can lead to immunosuppression like stress, low-nutrient diet, busy lifestyle, overconsumption of alcohol, and being sedentary. All of these will increase infection and disability in otherwise normal individuals. With a focus on nutrition, there are certain micronutrients-Vitamin A, D, C, E, B2, B6, B12, folate, iron, selenium, and zinc that are important for establishing a strong immune system. They are found in higher quantities in specific foods, but the best for many are nutrient-rich animal foods like grass-fed butter, egg yolk, red meat, organ meat, and seafood. Besides eating these nutrient-rich foods, it is important to limit the number of processed foods like refined carbohydrates/grains, refined sugar, refined vegetable oils (canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean, corn oils).
Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Drink enough water to stay hydrated (3-4liters).
Eat seasonal fruits daily.
Avoid the consumption of alcohol as much as you can.
Get vitamin D from the sun daily.
Minimize the consumption of sugary junk foods.
Stay fit, stay healthy because “Health is your real wealth”.
Dr. Jase Neo earned his MS and Phd degree from Columbia University. His interests are centered in general health, mental health, and he is also an accredited cognitive behavioural psychotherapist. He has written articles on the connection between socioeconomic status and health, homelessness, violence, stigma, and discrimination. Now he is researching health disparities by race or ethnicity and socioeconomic status.