“He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything.” —Arabian proverb
With a deadly virus on the prowl and everyone taking precautionary measures, it has become all the more important to focus on one’s immune system. So, here is a look at some immunity-boosters in the form of food items, herbs, fruits and vegetables.
Focus on nutrition
No matter what you follow -veganism, vegetarianism or non-vegetarianism - what matters is your diet, which should be rich in vitamins A, C, D and E, and minerals, such as zinc, selenium and magnesium. Dietician and nutritionist, Dr Mansi Chatrath says, “It is important to stick to seasonal vegetables and fruits. Most of the ingredients that boost immunity are used in our cooking techniques. Take for example garlic, ginger and turmeric, which are immunity-builders and used in every second recipe in India; be it veg or non-veg. Also, while non-vegetarians get all the important minerals and vitamins in their diet, vegans often have deficiency of vitamin B12, unless taken as supplements. At the same time, it is true that veganism leads to stronger immunity.”
Vitamin C wonder
Vitamin C helps us fight disease the most and one should include all citrus fruits and veggies in the diet. Dietician Dr Madhu Sharma explains, “Fruits like oranges, mausami, kinoo, kiwi and berries are a rich sources of Vitamin C. But one should know that even vegetables like red bell peppers and broccoli contain more vitamin C than a medium-sized citrus fruit like an orange.”
In addition, there are home remedies and spices one can incorporate in the diet, like lemon-ginger tea and turmeric milk. For the mineral selenium, it is not that fish, ham, eggs, pork and beef are the only options; a vegetarian can also consume cottage cheese, Brazil nuts, cashew-nuts, baked beans, bananas, brown rice and enriched foods, such as whole wheat breads, grain cereals and pastas.
Amla is extremely rich in Vitamin C and helps safeguard the body from infections. One can have it in the form of Chyawanprash or juices. Bhavna Anand Sharma, founder of Cureveda, talks about simple Ayurvedic ways to boost immunity, “Ashwagandha, Giloy and Panax Ginseng are herbs that help bolster the immune system. It’s good to have more Vitamin A, so increase the consumption of orange, red fruits and vegetables like carrots and red peppers; sweet potatoes and apricots.”
Studies reveal that deficiency of vitamins C and D are quite common, she adds, “Spirulina is a blue-green algae, which can be had as a supplement from reliable brands. Also mushrooms can make up for the lack of Vitamin D.”
Nuts and seeds
“Enriching your diet with fibre helps, but it is best to pair it with the right amount of protein. One can stay at an arm’s distance from diseases if one adds fruits and nuts in the daily bowl of fibre-rich cereal,” says Dr Mansi. Bhavna, on the other hand, advocates healthy snacking, which ranges from fruit and nuts to a seed mix. She says, “I love to have raw seeds, such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds and hemp seeds. They are healthy and I eat them raw. If one needs to develop a taste for it, go for roasted seeds. Also, sunflower seeds and nuts like almonds, and dried cranberries, contain high antioxidants, which help in boosting immunity.
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