Foods to Boost Our Immunity

A healthy diet keeps our body strong and helps us fight infections. This statement has been heard by all, but is hardly thought about until the fear of flu renewed our interest in building our immunity. Well, now that we are all willing to believe that what we eat does affect our immunity, it’s a good time to know how our diet can help our immune system work efficiently.

Get a Good Dose of Antioxidants
Maintaining a good supply of antioxidants is one of the most important things that we can do to boost our immunity. Antioxidants fight free radicals. These free radicals not only cause diseases such as cancer, arthritis and atherosclerosis but also weaken our immune system.

The important antioxidant vitamins are vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. The key antioxidant minerals are selenium and zinc.

Vitamin C: To get a good amount of vitamin C, add guavas, papayas, oranges, and melon to the diet.  Indian gooseberry (amla), broccoli and brussel sprouts are also rich in vitamin C.|

Vitamin E: Cooking oils like sunflower oil and safflower oil are rich in vitamin E. Dry roasted almonds in the diet boosts Vitamin E intake. Peanuts, olive oil, broccoli, carrots, mangoes, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, and spinach also add Vitamin E to our diet. In addition, whole grains and fortified breakfast cereals are an important source of Vitamin E.

Beta Carotene: Beta carotenes are precursors of vitamin A. They are found in abundance in dark green leafy vegetables, yellow-orange vegetables and fruits. Yellow-orange fruits and vegetables: carrots, cantaloupes, papayas, mango Dark green leafy vegetables: spinach, broccoli, beet leaves, turnips and mustard leaves

Zinc:  As many as 100 enzymes in our body need zinc to work. Its role in building immunity is well recognized for many years. Oysters are the richest known source of zinc. Chicken, beef, crab, pork and lobsters are also rich sources of zinc. Yogurt, cheese, chickpeas, kidney beans, peas, milk, almonds and cashew nuts add good quantities of zinc to our diet.

Selenium:  A good amount of selenium is present in rice, wheat, chicken and eggs. If we eat a well-balanced wholesome meal, our body will get the selenium that it needs. Tuna is a particularly rich source of selenium, giving as much as 63 micrograms per 100 g.

Adults Too Need Proteins
In our growing years we were always reminded by our mothers about how important proteins are to make us big and strong. What we were not informed about was that once we grow big, we will continue to need a good dose of proteins to keep us strong. Proteins are the building blocks of all cells, and that includes the cells of our immune system. If our body doesn’t get a good supply of proteins, it will simply not be able to make enough white blood cells to fight infections.

Adults need 1g of protein per kilogram of their body weight per day. Now since we are adults, we need to select our protein sources carefully so that we do not end up consuming too much fat along with it. The solution is to opt for lean proteins such as fish, seafood, poultry (without skin), egg whites, lentils, beans and soy products.

Go for Green Tea

Do not dismiss green tea as the latest beverage fad. Researchers have demonstrated the antigen-fighting abilities of green tea in the laboratory. The compound responsible for this action is a specific type of antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Therefore, go for green tea during tea breaks. Soak the green tea bag in hot water for at least 3 minutes to extract all antioxidants.

Add a Portion of Yoghurt

Yoghurt contains good bacteria that stimulate the immune cells. In a study done in Austria, women who consumed yoghurt regularly had an increased count of T-lymphocytes. Therefore, it may be a very healthy choice to round-off the meal with some yoghurt rather than ice-cream or other sugary desserts.

Get Some Garlic

Yes! Garlic! The time-honoured remedy for many diseases big and small works as an immune booster. Scientists attribute this action to compounds called Allicin and Alliin found in garlic. If you love the pungent taste of garlic, you would probably not mind chewing a few raw cloves. If not, stir fine chopped garlic in soups and vegetables.

Spice it up

Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and chillies not only add flavor and aroma to our food, but also work against infections. The cold-fighting properties of these spices have been harnessed by traditional medicine practitioners for many centuries. Go for fresh home-made food with a good dose of these spices rather than processed and canned food with artificial flavors.

Cut the Saturated Fat

Other than the damage they do to our blood vessels and heart, here is one more reason why we should say ‘no’ to food containing saturated fats. Trans-fats induce a state of low-grade inflammation in our body. Therefore, our immune cells have to work hard to fight such inflammation. Of course when we are trying to protect ourselves from the flu or other infections, we do not want our immune system to be busy doing something else. We can technically reduce their work-load and give them more time to fight infections by controlling our saturated fat intake.

Supplement with a Multivitamin

It may make sense to take a multivitamin to boost our immunity, particularly if we have not been a long term healthy eater. Take a multivitamin that includes Vitamin Bs, Vitamin A, C, E, Selenium and Zinc. Deficiency of these vitamins can occur without any overt sign or symptom. However, do remember that multivitamins are a supplement and not a substitute for a healthy diet. Besides, overdose of vitamins E and A is known to have adverse effects so check with the family physician about what supplement is to be taken and for how and pumpkins

By Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar | Health Care Magic
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Health Magazine: Foods to Boost Our Immunity
Foods to Boost Our Immunity
Health Magazine
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