Healthy eating and boosting our immunity are more important than ever in these unprecedented times. The changes we have made to our eating and lifestyle habits make it quite evident. For starters, we eat mostly home-cooked meals. We’ve also cut back on dining out and ordering in. These modifications are unquestionably beneficial to the process of eating well.

When it comes to immunity, we always think of it as a ‘switch’ in the body that can be turned on with the help of supplements. Amla, Ashwagandha, and Giloy Supplements are commonly used to improve immunity. Although these natural supplements are extremely beneficial, it is important to keep in mind that they are not miracle cures. They are only effective when used in combination with a regular, well-balanced diet that contains all of the necessary nutrients in sufficient amounts. If you want to improve your immunity, include the following foods in your daily diet:

  • Adequate hydration: Water is functional for the body’s immune system to work properly, so drink plenty of it. Mint, lemon, lemongrass, or cinnamon may be added to plain water to add flavour and nutrition. Lemonade, soup, lemonade, buttermilk, smoothies, aam panna, and rasam are the fluids that can also keep your body hydrated.
  • Seasonal produce: Consume at least 5 portions of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables every day. Even better, 7-8 portions are perfect for improving your immunity. Consuming fruits and vegetables provides a steady supply of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, all of which help to keep us safe. Include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, and play with different recipes such as soup, salad, juices, cooked vegetables, chutneys, etc. for variety in taste and nutrition.
  • Herbs and spices:  Herbs and spices are more than just seasonings that enhance flavour. They’re a good source of compounds that help the body fight oxidation and inflammation. Some examples include dried roots and barks like cinnamon and turmeric, as well as seeds like jeera, black cumin seeds, ajwain, and methi. Among the herbs, fresh leaves, stems and flowers, including mint, lemongrass, tulsi, bay leaf and cloves, are good options. Disease-fighting compounds are abundant in the bulbous group of vegetables (onion, garlic). Incorporate all of these ingredients into your everyday meals.
  • Pulses and dals: Include pulses and dals (whole, split, and washed) in your diet. Soy, beans, and peas should also be consumed on a daily basis. Combining cereals and dals, as in khichdi, idli, or missi roti, is a healthy way to improve the consistency of proteins in your diet.
  • Dairy: Dairy and its products, including fermented preparations, are excellent immune boosters. Yoghurt, buttermilk, and cheese are high in proteins, vitamins (especially vitamin D), minerals,  and beneficial microorganisms, that play a vital role in building immunity.
  • Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds provide the body with a variety of nutrients such as proteins, magnesium and zinc. These are essential for a healthy immune system. Adding seeds to the cereal/atta used to make roti/chapatti is a simple way to incorporate seeds into your daily diet.
  • Wholegrain cereals: Another important nutrient for improving immunity is wholesome fibre. Wholegrain cereals and flours can be substituted for refined cereals and flours.
  • Omega 3 fats: Omega 3 fats are important for the body’s immune function, but they’re often lacking in the daily diet. Nuts, seeds, fatty fish, dals, and green leafy vegetables are all good sources of Omega 3 fats. Omega 3 fatty acids can also be found in mustard, soy, rice bran, and canola oils. Coconut oil, which has long been known to have antiviral effects, can also be included in the overall recommended fat intake.
  • Fermented foods: Fermented foods are known to boost the body’s mucosal defense systems, so they should be consumed daily. The fermentation process enhances the diversity of gut bacteria while also increasing vitamin and mineral bioavailability. Gut bacteria diversity has been related to improved health and innate immunity.

    If you are unable to obtain a sufficient supply of these vital nutrients from your daily diet for inevitable reasons, you can add supplementary doses under the supervision of a medical practitioner.

    In addition to a balanced and healthy daily diet, a strong immune system needs a sufficient amount of sunlight, restful sleep, and physical activity.

    About the author:

    Ms. Nilanjana Singh Registered Dietician, Certified Diabetes Educator, Author, Columnist and Wellness Consultant

    Ms. Neelanjana Singh
    Registered Dietician, Certified Diabetes Educator, Author, Columnist and Wellness Consultant

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