15 Foods That Boost the Immune System.
- Citrus fruits
- Red bell peppers
- Sunflower seeds
- Green tea
Give your immune system a boost with healthful, plant-based foods.
As coronavirus (COVID-19) is presently affecting communities around the world, it is time that we all take all the steps we can to stay healthy. Following general preventive measures such as hand-washing, social distancing, and good hygiene can go a long way in reducing our risk for viral infections.
Gathering evidence from various studies, it is important to emphasise role of nutrition and other lifestyle measures that influence immune strength and susceptibility to infectious diseases. Present pandemic has given us a good reason to put what we do know about foods and immune defences to use. Here is what we already know that can help you:
Eating a low-fat, plant-based diet may help give the immune system a boost. The immune system relies on white blood cells that produce antibodies to combat bacteria, viruses, and other invaders. Vegetarians have been shown to have more effective white blood cells when compared to non-vegetarians, due to a high intake of vitamins and low intake of fat.
Eat Low Fat Diet
Eating a low-fat diet may also be protective. Studies have shown that limiting dietary fat helps strengthen immune defences. Research also shows that oil may impair white blood cell function and that high-fat diets may alter the gut microbiota that aid in immunity.
Maintain Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight benefits the immune system as obesity has been linked to increased risk for influenza and other infections such as pneumonia. Including plant-based diets are effective for weight loss, because they are rich in fiber to create satiety, without adding extra calories. Fiber also lowers BMI, and is linked to improved immunity. A plant-based diet also reduces inflammatory biomarkers.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants
Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables provide nutrients—like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E—that can boost immune function. Because many vegetables, fruits, and other plant-based foods are also rich in antioxidants, they help reduce oxidative stress.
Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and boost immune function by increasing disease-fighting cells in the body. Excellent sources include sweet potatoes, carrots, and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamins C and E
Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that help to destroy free radicals and support the body’s natural immune response. Sources of vitamin C include red peppers, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, mangoes, lemons, and other fruits and vegetables. Good dietary sources of Vitamin E are nuts, seeds, spinach, and broccoli.
Research shows vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk for viral infections, including respiratory tract infections, by reducing production of pro-inflammatory compounds in the body. Increasing vitamin D in diet has been linked to prevention of other chronic diseases including tuberculosis, hepatitis, and cardiovascular disease. Food sources of vitamin D include fortified cereals and plant-based milks and supplements.
Zinc is an important mineral that can help boost white blood cells, which defend against invaders. Important sources of zinc include nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, beans, and lentil.
Our bodies need sleep to rest and recharge, without which we are at increased risk for health problems like heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and obesity. Sleep has also been linked to optimal immune function. Studies indicate that those who sleep fewer than five hours per night are more likely to have recently suffered a recent cold compared with those who sleep more.
Need help falling asleep?
Try adding healthful fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans to your diet. One study found that diets rich in fiber and low in saturated fat can lead to deeper, more restorative sleep.
Boost your immune system with these plant-powered recipes!
Author: Dr Anuja Gaur
Kalpavriksh Superspeciality Center