In this article, we look at a “home kit” for a healthy immune system. Here are a few simple foods that are proven immunity boosters – just as essential as a good sanitizer, in the post-COVID world!
This is such a peculiar time! While the world scrambles to maintain hygiene to stay healthy, the basics of maintaining health have become a bit sidelined! Ironic, isn’t it? With all the time on our hands to cook, we may not have all the material handy to cook a nutritious meal. With all the time on hands to exercise, we can very easily get distracted by “Internetainment”!
Antioxidants: Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against free radicals that play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and carotenoids help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
These are present abundantly in garlic, ginger, carrot, pumpkin – all readily available throughout the year, and berries available seasonally. So, do make these a part of your daily diet. Since many of these are already a large part of most Indian kitchens, conscious use will only help more.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C supplements have been found to lower blood pressure and linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, including high blood levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. Vitamin-C-rich foods and supplements have been linked to reduced blood uric acid levels as they improve the absorption of iron and reduce the risk of iron deficiency. This boosts immunity by helping white blood cells function more effectively. Not only does this help in fighting the common cold but it also strengthens the defence system of skin and helps wounds heal faster. This can play a big role in post-surgical healing.
Most of us know that Vitamin C can be found in the humblest of sources ranging from guava, amla, oranges, lime, papaya, and cantaloupe. But who would have guessed that even vegetables like tomatoes, capsicum, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower offer Vitamin C?So don’t despair if fruits aren’t available aplenty, those ordinary-looking vegetables can pack a punch!
Vitamin E: This wonderful antioxidant slows the ageing process of your cells. Dryness of skin experienced after a post-flu attack or even in menopausal age in women can be easily alleviated by vitamin E. So, greens like Spinach can keep you evergreen while nuts like groundnuts and almonds can keep your skin buttery smooth!
Vitamin D: Yes, of course, this elusive pro-hormone helps maintain strong bones – something that all women could use, especially considering the toll pregnancies and estrogen changes near menopause take on our bones. But did you also know that it helps in the reduction of risk of viral infections like flu and regulation of insulin levels? Although a 10-minute walk in the sun is the best source of Vitamin D, in the lockdown period when even a walk outside has become a rare event, look for it in everyday food items such as cheese, eggs, soy milk, and fortified milk, cereals, or orange juice.
Turmeric: This super-spice contains bioactive compounds with powerful medicinal properties. Turmeric gives the yellow colour to foods with curcumin, its main active ingredient. Curcumin is a very strong antioxidant, has powerful anti-inflammatory effects, and thereby is also believed to possess anti-cancerous properties. Hence, the age-old “Haldi” – the secret weapon in the armoury of Indian kitchens – is a miracle food. You could try it as golden milk- Half teaspoon Haldi (turmeric) powder in 150 ml hot milk – once or twice a day.
Probiotics: Probiotics are live microorganisms that help in promoting a healthy digestive tract. No points for guessing that a healthy plumbing system leads to a healthy immune system! They are also commonly known as friendly, good, or healthy bacteria. You can easily find them in garlic and yoghurt or in commonly available fruits like apple and bananas.
StarAnise and Ginger: Eat these ingredients however you like – add them to your tea – green, black, or regular, or any culinary preparation you fancy. Not only do they enhance the flavour but they keep inflammations at bay.