Include 8 vitamins and minerals for a stronger immune system

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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What what you eat, and ensure your immunity gets a much-needed boost in these times of Covid-19. Here are some expert recommendations.

The combination of the winter season and rising Covid-19 cases and variants is no good news for our health. On one hand, the chilly winds bring along a variety of infections and allergies, and on another, the stress around the Covid-19 surge is not good for immunity either. So, it’s a good idea indeed to do all that you can to boost your immune system.

Ladies, our kitchen cabinets and refrigerators have a whole lot of solutions, and they work for better immunity too. One of the best ways to care for your immune system and help make it stronger is by eating a well-balanced diet that must include a variety of fruits, vegetables, and protein, vitamin C, D, E, zinc, and iron. Having a regular workout regime also helps.

Sushma PS, Chief Dietician, Jindal Naturecure Institute, says, “While exotic immunity-boosting food items like goji berries and chia seeds have started to invade the health food market, there are plenty of ingredients native to our country that are widely available, inexpensive, and have a number of health-promoting properties. This time, turn to your roots and include these desi superfoods in your diet”.

Dr Jyoti Khanijoh, Head – Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics Department, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Patparganj, New Delhi, tells HealthShots, “Immune system or immunity is our body’s great defender. It helps our body by stopping incoming attacks from viruses and bacteria and the cells bounce back after illnesses.”

Include these vitamins and minerals rich foods in your diet to boost your immunity:

1. Protein-rich foods

We know that the Indian diet lacks protein. We should consume complete, high-quality proteins (egg, dairy, and soy proteins) in our daily diet. So we must add milk and milk products, soy and its products, pulses or beans or sprouts and eggs, chicken and fish in our daily diet.

immunity-boosting foods
Stay high on protein to save yourself from diseases. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Vitamin C rich foods

The most common benefit of vitamin C is that it is used in the treatment of the common cold to boost immunity. Though it may not help prevent cold, it can reduce the severity of symptoms and shorten the duration of the same. The sources are citrus fruits like orange, malta, lemon, strawberry, kiwi, guavas, papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, amla, and tomatoes. The daily recommendation is 40 mg for an adult.

3. Iron-rich foods

A component that is critical for immune cell function and good sources are red meat, beans, nuts, chia seeds, dates, radish leaves, spinach, and fortified breakfast cereals.

4. Vitamin A-rich foods

We know it is a skin-friendly vitamin. It protects against infections of skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines, and respiratory system and keeps healthy. Sources are red meat, and vegetables like sweet potato, spinach, broccoli, carrots, apricots, and bell peppers.

5. Vitamin D rich foods

A well-known fact that vitamin D helps in synthesizing calcium absorption but it also helps in regulating antimicrobial proteins that can directly kill pathogens. Sources are sunlight; fatty fish, like salmon; egg yolks; and fortified dairy.

6. Vitamin E rich foods

An antioxidant to protect the integrity of cell membranes from damage caused by free radicals. It helps in the healthy immune system, formation of red blood cells. Fight against heart disease, cancer, age-related disease. Sources include seeds, dry fruits and nuts, avocados, vegetable oils, and peanut butter.

7. Zinc-rich food

This is a top mineral to boost immunity, and helps in faster wound healing. It also reduces the effect, severity, and duration of cold and flu. Sources are oysters, meats, whole grains, milk, seeds and nuts, mushrooms, dark chocolate.

immunity-boosting foods
There’s a lot more that haldi has to offer for healthy immunity. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

8. Turmeric

The everyday spice staple has a number of medicinal properties. This golden spice is well known since ancient ages for its health benefits. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and wound-healing properties. It’s known to fight against infections and improves immunity. The daily recommendation is 1 teaspoon for an adult, suggests Sushma PS

  • 1 teaspoon in milk
  • It can be taken in lukewarm with lemon water and honey.

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