A Registered Dietitian Shares 11 Immunity Boosting Foods You Can Incorporate Into Your Diet for Better Health

By Rashmi Cherian

You want to fight the flu that’s spreading in office. You want to keep your child away from constant cold & cough.  In order to do this, you need to take extra care of your immune system. Keeping your immune system healthy must be done throughout the year, whatever is the season.

A healthy immune system is very important for fighting bacteria & viruses. Poor nutritional intake results in immune system dysfunctions such as increased infections, and slow healing from injuries and infections. It is true that as we age, our immunity drops. However, recent research suggests that with proper nutrition this decline in immunity can be reduced and can even be stopped completely.

The saying “We are what we eat” has an element of truth in it.  What we eat affects not only our digestive system but  it also plays an important role in strengthening our immune system. Taking a healthy and balanced diet can help improve our immunity.

However, there are no short-cuts for this.  Just by eating an orange or amla or grapefruit , do not expect your immunity to miraculously improve. You need to eat a good and healthy diet over a period of time in order to strengthen your immune system.

These 11 immunity boosting foods can add an extra flu-fighting punch to your healthy diet.

1. YOGURT

Yogurt contains probiotics, also called “good bacteria”;  which improve digestion & keep
the immune system healthy. It is also full or proteins, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and vitamin B2 (riboflavin). Good Vitamin D level is also important for robust immune function.

How to consume:

  • Fruit smoothies can be prepared with yogurt
  • Cucumber yogurt salad can be prepared with herbs
alisha-hieb-227577
Yogurt contains probiotics, also called “good bacteria”;  which improve digestion & keep
the immune system healthy. (Photo by Alisha Hieb)

2. TURMERIC

Turmeric has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory & anti-microbial properties. Curcumin, an
active ingredient in turmeric boosts immunity as it has anti-inflammatory properties. Studies suggest that turmeric can help provide a boost to the white blood cells that help your immune system fight off bacteria, viruses and other ailments.

How to consume:

  • Try it in turmeric latte, also known as golden milk
  • It can be added to soups or to season lean meats or stir fries.
Photo by Osha Key on Unsplash
Indians have known for centuries that turmeric or haldi is one of the best immunity boosting foods. The rest of the world is also waking up to its benefits. (Photo by Osha Key)

3. GARLIC: 

Garlic contains an active ingredient, allicin which fights bacteria & infection and boosts
immunity. In one study, participants given a daily allicin supplement experienced colds 63% less often than the placebo group. In addition, when they did get sick, participants in the allicin group recovered 3.5 days earlier, on average. So to boost immunity try to eat one small clove of garlic 2 – 3 times a day.

How to consume:

  • Add chopped garlic to salads, curries etc.

4. GINGER: 

Ginger contains gingerol which fights infections & in turn improves immunity. Ginger also has anti-inflammatory & antioxidant properties.

How to consume:

  • Grated ginger can be steeped in water to make ginger tea.
  • Add ginger to marinades for meats or in cakes or muffins as well

5. MUSHROOMS

Mushrooms are rich in selenium, Vitamin B2 & Niacin which are important for good
immunity. Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, which help to fight any infection or pathogens. Mushrooms are also full of anti-oxidants.

How to consume:

  • Mushrooms can be added to omelettes & scrambled eggs or to soups, salads & lasagne.
  • Stuffed mushrooms makes a great recipe
sebastien-marchand-417448
Mushrooms are rich in selenium, Vitamin B2 & Niacin; which makes them one of the most sought after immunity boosting foods.

6. GREEN TEA

Polyphenols & flavonoids in green tea makes it a super food for boosting immunity.        L-Theaninein green tea helps in fighting viruses & bacteria. Try to consume 2 – 3 cups of green tea a day.

7. SWEET POTATOES

Sweet potatoes are packed with a potent antioxidant, beta carotene which fights
free radicals that damage our immune system.

How to consume:

  • Sweet potato French fries can be made by baking them in an oven
  • Sweet potato pie or casseroles can be made

8. POMEGRANATE 

Pomegranate has high antioxidant properties, which stimulate the white blood cells to neutralize toxins in the body. This promotes a strong and healthy immune system.

How to consume:

  • Pomegranate seeds can be added to sprouts & salads
  • Pomegranate lemonade is good in summers
samay-bhavsar-96212
Pomegranate has high antioxidant properties, which stimulate the white blood cells to neutralize toxins in the body. This promotes a strong and healthy immune system. (Photo by Samay Bhavsar)

9. CHICKEN SOUP

Chicken soup is old remedy to fight cold & flu. Its ingredients stop white blood cell
movement which in turn decreases mucus production. This soup also provides ample amount of an amino acid, cysteine, which chemically resembles the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine, which helps in clearing mucus.

charles-koh-365288
Who knew that the humble chicken soup would turn out to be one of the most nutrient rich immunity boosting foods? (Photo by Charles Koh)

10. SHELLFISH

Oysters & other shell fish are rich sources of selenium and zinc, which are important for
boosting white blood cells. Oysters can be consumed raw, grilled and can be added in stews as well.

11. COCONUT OIL

Coconut Oil contains lauric acid and caprylic acid, which are natural antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-viral. Both are known for fighting off candida & bacterial infections. Coconut oil also strengthens a weak immune system by improving  the white blood cell count.

How to consume coconut oil:

  • A spoon of coconut oil can be added to smoothies, yogurt & cereals.
  • Coconut oil can be used in baking instead of butter

So, your diet plays an important role in strengthening your immunity. The deficiency of certain nutrients can cause your immune system to become weak. In order to build a strong immune system, eat the above mentioned super foods along with a healthy balanced diet throughout the year.


About the Author

Rashmi

Rashmi Cherian is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s Degree in Food & Nutrition and a Certified Sports & Exercise Nutritionist. She has been providing nutritional counselling for almost a decade, displaying a vast diversity of clientele seeking her expertise. A leading Sports Nutritionist, Rashmi works with a wide variety of professional and amateur athletes in swimming, tennis, badminton, triathlon, cycling, football, basketball, cricket, golf, go karting etc. She teaches them how to have more energy, lose undesired body fat, enjoy a winning sports diet—and feel confident bout their food choices.

She currently serves as the Official Sports Nutritionist for Birel Art. As Rashmi’s love for helping other’s continued to grow, she decided to open WELLNESS VOWS Nutrition Clinic, which focusses on overall wellness, sports nutrition, weight imbalances, lifestyle disorders, auto immune diseases etc. Rashmi has been a key note speaker at conferences, lectures, sports academies, schools and corporations across the country. Two of her research papers have been published in international journals – “Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry” and “Nutritional Neuroscience”.

Rashmi’s nutrition philosophy is one that looks at the total person. She believes “If YOU take care of your body, it will take care of you.” Outside of her work, Rashmi loves cooking, is a fitness freak and a proud mother of a young boy. You can contact Rashmi on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. She can also be reached on wellnessvows@gmail.com

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