In the trying times of COVID aka Coronavirus, we keep hearing over and over again that people with strong immunity systems are either able to stay asymptomatic or ward off the symptoms with nothing more than mild cold and coughs. Suddenly, there became a cottage industry selling immunity-boosting powders and syrups that allegedly ‘works to prevent COVID-19’ without zero research or studies.
Best Foods To Eat For Increasing Immunity
While these became all the rage, we have forgotten that there are naturally occurring foods that we can have in our regular meals without having to gulp down awful tasting drinks. So today, I’m going to list out all the immunity-boosting foods that you can eat, and you’ll be surprised to find how many of these you are already eating.
Papaya: Papaya is not only loaded with antioxidants and phytochemicals. It also contains an enormous amount of vitamin C, A, folate, potassium, and calcium, making it an excellent fruit to boost immunity. Papaya also lowers the risk of cancer, heart disease while improving digestion and reducing inflammations. Add fresh cut papayas to your fruit bowls to kickstart the day.
Citrus Fruits: Vitamin C is recommended as an immunity booster as it is shown to increase white blood cells’ production, which is key to fighting off infections. All citrus fruits such as grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, lemons, and limes are high in vitamin C and easily available. If you are keen on boosting your immunity without having to cook anything, you can just make some fresh fruit juices using any of the mentioned citrus fruits and drink them on a regular basis.
Spinach: This dark leafy green vegetable is one powerhouse for an innumerable number of vitamins and minerals. Spinach is abundantly rich in iron, folate, vitamin K, A, C, B12 as well as magnesium, which aids in fighting off infections. It is also high in fiber and calcium, making it an excellent choice to add to your everyday meals. Make sure you cook it as little as possible to reap all of its benefits. I love adding a cup of shredded spinach when my pasta sauce is done cooking.
Broccoli: When I was a kid, I used to watch cartoons, and one thing they all had in common was how those kids hated eating broccoli. They are the healthiest veggie you can eat and supercharged with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fiber and many other antioxidants, the best way to retain the nutrients is to steam them. I usually add them to my steamed veggies, but you can try so many recipes at home.
Red Bell Peppers: If you are looking for foods that have more Vitamin C than citrus fruits, look no further than bell peppers, especially the red variety. Not only does it boost the immune system, but it also contains beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. This helps the eyes and skin stay healthy. Bell peppers are something I love to add to my foods, especially when making pasta sauce or any kind of Asian stir fry dish or even noodles.
Turmeric: Turmeric is root-like ginger that is native to India. It imparts a distinct yellow color when used. You can use fresh turmeric root by grinding it to a paste or dry it and powder it and store it as a dry spice with a longer shelf life. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which is a strong antioxidant and holds anti-inflammatory properties. It is also rich in anti-bacterial properties, which is why I love adding it to my marinades and curries. The best way for maximum curcumin absorption is to add black pepper to it.
Garlic: The easiest ingredient you could add to your dishes, and you probably are already adding, is garlic. It contains allicin that is known for immunity-boosting properties, which also gives it a distinctive taste. The best way to get the most of garlic is to leave it for around 10 minutes after crushing it to allow the allicin to convert to sulfur-containing compounds that give garlic its medicinal properties. Studies have shown that having small amounts of garlic every day improves the immune system and leads to a healthier lifestyle. There is powdered garlic available, but experts believe that fresh garlic is where you get the most nutrients.
Ginger: Ginger is another great source of immunity-boosting food that has been used for ages. It is also good for reducing inflammation, sore throat and preventing nausea. There was even a study where researchers found that both fresh and dried ginger has antiviral effects on human cells’ respiratory viruses. There are many ways you can have ginger as part of your meal, and you don’t even have to have it in large quantities. If you want to make it simple and not as part of a dish, you can take a small piece, crush it coarsely and add it to boiling water or tea. There are a lot of recipes that use ginger, especially in Indian cuisine, as it is one of the staple ingredients.
Yogurt: Yogurt is rich in Vitamin D, which helps regulate the immune system. There have been clinical studies that show that this particular vitamin effectively reduces the effects of COVID-19. When buying yogurt, try to get Greek yogurt or any other plain yogurt instead of flavored one as those contain way too much-added sugars and negate the benefits to your body.
Almonds: Almonds are the finest nuts to snack on for a strong immune system. It is rich in healthy fats, protein, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E, which plays a vital role in warding off bacteria and colds. I love snacking on almonds as it is by soaking it in water overnight or adding slivers of it in both sweet and savory dishes like oatmeal, chicken curry, or even while making any baked goods.
Button Mushroom: Mushroom is one of the most overlooked food when it comes to boosting immunity. If you ask anyone, their answer will always be some kind of fruit juice or soup, but no one thinks about mushrooms. These tiny umbrellas are high in protein, and there have been a number of studies that show that it is great at boosting immunity to fight viral infections and even reduce the probabilities of tumors. I love adding button mushrooms to a lot of dishes, from Indian to continental cuisine, as it is quite versatile.
Sweet Potato: Sweet Potato is another underrated food when it comes to boosting immunity. It is rich in fiber and has vitamins B and C and minerals, including iron, calcium, and selenium. It is also rich in beta-carotene, which converts into Vitamin A when digested. Sweet Potatoes can be added to a large number of dishes, and you can even substitute them instead of regular potatoes. I love to make mashed sweet potatoes, but if you want to eat without actually preparing a dish, you can just boil them and eat after the skin.
Poultry: When it comes to meat, the most nutritious foods are chicken and turkey. Chicken meat is dense in protein, which helps increase immunity and builds lean muscles. The most popular dish that everyone knows is chicken soup. A lot of you will remember when you were a kid, and you became sick or not feeling well, your mom would make chicken soup. Not only is it nutritious, but even in broth form, it also helps in digestion and improving bone joints. Personally, I love to make Japanese chicken curry as it will also have potatoes and carrots!
Shellfish: Coming to seafood, crabs, lobsters, oysters, and mussels are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, protein, and vitamin B12, which helps in building a strong immune system. It also helps with improving brain and heart health. Eating shellfish regularly will help with improving your overall immune system. My mom makes excellent crab thokku on Sundays, and I relish every last bit of it.
The Bottom Line – Eating fresh fruits and veggies is the key to staying healthy and disease-free. Make sure you eat a variety of these immune-boosting foods combined with other whole foods to get all the nutrition you need for a stronger immune system. Please try to eat everything in moderation and don’t exceed the serving size thinking it would overhaul your immune system overnight because our body doesn’t work that way. We need to stay consistent with our eating habits to see any difference. It is a slow and steady process. I hope you liked this article. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Until next time, stay healthy!