03Jul

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Human life in itself is a miracle, but even more miraculous is the way human body is designed. Each and every cell of our body knows what to do in order to heal and keep the body in its most healthy state.

Our immune system is an army of cells that work tirelessly to protect us from foreign particles, microbes, etc. And not just that they keep a thorough record of every microbe that has ever invaded the body in the past. To do all of this laborious work, our immune system needs to be in a top form which is obtained through good nourishment.

The food you eat has the potential to make or break your immunity. Hence, it is very important to supplement the body with right kind of foods. Excessive caffeine, fried, processed, junk food, alcohol have the ability to weaken our immune system so much so that sometimes body mistakes its healthy cells as enemy and starts destroying them causing auto immune diseases like arthritis, psoriasis, irritable bowel syndrome, hypo & hyper thyroidism, etc.

On the other hand, there are certain foods when consumed over a period of time have a positive effect on immunity. We have selected top 15 immunity boosting foods for a stronger you in this article. But remember, just by eating once in a month they would definitely not prove beneficial. If you consume them regularly over a period of time, your immune system will grow stronger gradually. Hence, include them daily as per the recommendations given below.

1. BEETROOT

Beetroot is one of the healthiest food available on Earth. It is classified as a functional food (food which provides a myriad of health benefits). It is a rich source of Vitamin C, carotenoids, phenolic compounds, nitrates and betalains, all of which are bio-active compounds that promote health and prevent diseases like cancer.

Beetroot for immunity

The high Vitamin C content makes it a potent antioxidant for fighting oxidative stress and healing wounds. In addition to all these nutrients, it also has high iron content which is beneficial for people suffering from anemia.

(Reference : Tom CliffordGlyn Howatson et al, The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease, Nutrients. 2015 Apr; 7(4): 2801–2822.  Published online 2015 Apr 14. doi: 10.3390/nu7042801PMCID: PMC4425174 )

Recommendation: A glass of beetroot juice daily or half beetroot in a salad daily will do the trick.

2. GARLIC

You must be avoiding this food because of the bad breath it gives. But if you come to know what it does to your body, you will happily agree to bear smelly breath. The immunity boosting effects of garlic has been studied by many researchers.

Garlic

Garlic contains several water soluble vitamins, amino acids, healthy enzymes and sulfur containing compounds. The medicinal properties of garlic are due to the organo-sulfur compounds. These compounds fight against infections and are anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti- allergic. In addition to all of this, it also effectively reduces blood pressure & cholesterol.

(Reference: 1. Rodrigo Arreola, Saray Quintero-Fabián et al, Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds, J Immunol Res. 2015; 2015: 401630. Published online 2015 Apr 19. doi: 10.1155/2015/401630PMCID: PMC4417560

2. Victor R. Preedy, Handbook of diet, nutrition and the skin
Volume 2 of Human Health Handbooks, Springer, 2012, ISBN, 9086867294, 9789086867295)

Recommendation: Indian households generally use garlic in curries, dal, etc for seasoning. One or two cloves in curry or eating raw daily shall prove beneficial.

3. AVOCADO

This fruit is a store house of nutrients. In recent times, it has gain popularity as a super-food. Rightly so, it is a rich source of Vitamin C, A , E, B6, folate, zinc, iron, copper, selenium and bio-active compounds like phytosterols & β-sitosterol.

Avocado

The antioxidants and the the bio-active compounds together helps in fighting infection and building stronger immunity. Avocados have high Omega 3 content (good fats) and hence highly beneficial in alleviating symptoms that accompany auto-immune disorders like arthritis.

Reference: Deep Jyoti BhuyanMuhammad A. Alsherbiny et al, The Odyssey of Bioactive Compounds in Avocado (Persea americana) and Their Health Benefits, Antioxidants (Basel) 2019 Oct; 8(10): 426. Published online 2019 Sep 24. doi: 10.3390/antiox8100426PMCID: PMC6826385 )

Recommendation: Have two avocados per week to reap its benefits.

4. NUTS: ALMOND AND WALNUT

Almond and Walnut are good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids which are essential to reduce inflammation in the body. Both these nuts contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, poly-phenol and antioxidants. Almond skin has anti-viral and anti-microbial properties.

Almond and Walnut

Polyphenolic compounds in food are currently being explored for their anti-microbial and anti-viral properties by many researchers. Moreover, both almond and walnut are very good for heart health.

(References: Adriana Arena Carlo Bisignano, Immunomodulatory and Antiviral Activity of Almond Skins, PMID: 20438761DOI: 10.1016/j.imlet.2010.04.010)’

Recommendation: Have 5-8 almonds and 3-5 walnuts daily to ward off viral infections and keep your heart in top shape.

5. POMEGRANATE

Pomegranate, a dark red fruit, is the the boss of super-foods. It is considered a functional food and nutraceutical. This sweet juicy fruit is a great source of polyphenols like ellagic acid, gallic acid, punicalin, punicalagin, anthocyanins; Vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants, etc.

The combination of all these nutrients gives pomegranate curative and preventive properties. According to studies, pomegranate has antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, vermifungal agents in it.

Pomegranate

Many studies have confirmed that the polyphenols in pomegranate have anti-viral effects against viruses such as adenoviruses, influenza, herpes simplex virus, etc and anti-bacterial effects against bacteria such as E.Coli.

(References: Amy B. Howell and Doris H. D’Souza, The Pomegranate: Effects on Bacteria and Viruses That Influence Human Health, Hindawi Journal, Volume 2013, Article ID 606212)

Recommendation: One pomegranate per day or a tall glass of pomegranate juice daily is good enough to supplement your body with immune boosting nutrients.

6. YOGURT

Yogurt contains good bacteria which are very essential for a healthy gut. Its immuno-stimulatory properties have been studied by many researchers. The microorganisms in yogurt prevents Gastrointestinal infections. Gut health is very important because it strengthens the immune system.

Yogurt

Regular consumption of yogurt over a period of time has been shown to enhance immunity in people with compromised immune system especially older population. It also helps in keeping allergies at bay.

(References: 1. Fang YanD.B. Polk, Probiotics and immune health, PMCID: PMC4006993NIHMSID: NIHMS441845PMID: 21897224

2. Simin Nikbin Meydani, Woel-Kyu Ha, Immunologic effects of yogurt, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 71, Issue 4, April 2000, Pages 861–872, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/71.4.861)

Recommendation: Have 1 cup of Yogurt daily to get the daily dose of healthy pro-biotics.

7. SEEDS: SUNFLOWER & PUMPKIN SEEDS

Pumpkin and sunflower seeds

Sunflower & Pumpkin seeds are immunonutrients & have immunomodulatory effects. Pumpkin seeds are good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, iron, zinc, selenium & potassium. Sunflower seeds have B vitamins, minerals like copper, magnesium, selenium. All these nutrients, especially iron, zinc & selenium are vital for immunity.

(References: 1. Immaculata, Maria & Insanu, Muhamad & Dass, Caryn. (2014). Development of Immunonutrient from Pumpkin (Cucurbita Moschata Duchense Ex. Lamk.) Seed. Procedia Chemistry. 13. 10.1016/j.proche.2014.12.013.)

Recommendation: A handful of sunflower and pumpkin seeds would provide the essential nutrients required for boosting immunity.

8. TURMERIC

Turmeric has been used as a medicinal spice from time immemorial. This wisdom has been passed on from generation to generation.

Turmeric

Turmeric is an anti-oxidant since it contains nutrients like flavonoids, Vitamin C, carotenoids. It has anti- inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-diabetic, anti-malarial & immunomodulatory effect.

(References: Rahmani AH, Alsahli MA, Aly SM, Khan MA, Aldebasi YH. Role of Curcumin in Disease Prevention and Treatment. Adv Biomed Res. 2018;7:38. Published 2018 Feb 28. doi:10.4103/abr.abr_147_16)

Recommendation: Consuming a teaspoon of turmeric daily will strengthen immunity.

9. KIWI FRUIT

 This small fruit which is incredibly beautiful from inside, is packed with essential nutrients. It has high vitamin C content and nutrients like dietary fibre, potassium, Vitamin E, B Vitamins like folate, antioxidants, phyto-nutrients, poly-phenols and enzymes, all of which have immuno-modulatory effects. Kiwi fruit increases platelets, due to which dengue patients are advised to eat it.

Kiwi fruit

Gold Kiwi fruit is especially beneficial in treating upper respiratory tract infections, asthma because of its high Vitamin C content.

(Reference: Skinner, Margot & Bentley-Hewitt, Kerry & Rosendale, Douglas & Naoko, Suzuki & Pernthaner, Anton. (2013). Effects of Kiwifruit on Innate and Adaptive Immunity and Symptoms of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections. Advances in food and nutrition research. 68. 301-20. 10.1016/B978-0-12-394294-4.00017-1.)

Recommendation: Consuming one Kiwi a day is enough to derive it’s immunity boosting benefits.

10. SPINACH

Our favorite ‘Popeye the sailorman’ was right about spinach. It is a wonder plant. Contains glutathione, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 & Folate.

Spinach

Research has proved, not just Vitamin C but Glutathione also helps keep our immunity strong. It is often referred to as a master antioxidant. Glutathione supplementation helps in chronic viral & bacterial infections. All the more reason you should eat spinach.

(Reference: 1. Dhivya H, Glutathione ─ a master antioxidant and an immune system modulator, Journal of Biological and Information Sciences, ISSN: 2320-1290, Vol. 1 Iss. 3 (2012).

2. Kiyoshi Tanaka, Hikaru Saji, Noriaki Kondo, Immunological Properties of Spinach Glutathione Reductase and Inductive Biosynthesis of the Enzyme with Ozone, Plant and Cell Physiology, Volume 29, Issue 4, June 1988, Pages 637 642, https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.pcp.a077540)

Recommendation: Add a cup of this green leafy vegetable daily in your diet to get Popeye like strength.

11. CHICKEN SOUP

This magical potion has been used as a cure for cold, flu and cough from ages. Research as well as anecdotal evidence has proved that Chicken soup is a potent remedy for Upper respiratory tract infections.

Chicken Soup

It contains immune boosting nutrients like Vitamins A, Vitamin C, magnesium, proteins, phosphorus, gelatin and antioxidants. A low protein and micro-nutrient diet causes poor immunity. Since chicken has high quality proteins and micro-nutrients in good amounts, regular consumption shall be helpful in building immunity.

(References: Barbara O. Rennard, BA, Ronald F. Ertl, BS,et al, Chicken Soup Inhibits Neutrophil Chemotaxis In Vitro, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Section, Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE)

Recommendation: Have Chicken soup 3-4 times a week for getting the immune boosting nutrients.

12. SALMON FISH

Consumption of Salmon fish regularly comes with a host of benefits. It is a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids (good fat), proteins, B vitamins, vitamin D, minerals such as selenium, potassium and a protective anti-oxidant called ‘Astaxanthin’.

Salmon fish

Most fish and especially Salmon helps in development of cognition, is cardio-protective, anti-inflammatory in nature. The immune boosting effects of Salmon is attributed to the antioxidant Astaxanthin.

(Reference: Björn Thorgilsson, Maria Leonor Nunes, Helga Gunnlaugsdóttir1, Review of evidence for the beneficial effect of fish consumption, Matís ohf. / Icelandic Food and Biotech R&D, National Research Institute for Agriculture and Fishery (IPIMAR), Portugal)

Recommendation: Have this nutrient dense fish 2-3 times a week for a better immunity and healthy heart.

13. CITRUS FRUITS

All Citrus fruits are a rich source of Vitamin C and flavonoids. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It prevents oxidative damage in body, has wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties.

Citrus fruits

Vitamin C deficiency leads to poor immunity, slowed wound healing and increases risk of contracting upper respiratory tract infections. Research has proved that consumption of Vitamin C containing foods reduces your risk of getting respiratory & systemic infections.

(Reference: Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017;9(11):1211. Published 2017 Nov 3. doi:10.3390/nu9111211)

Recommendation: Have a glass of lemon water daily in the morning for a refreshing, zesty day and a healthy life. You can also eat a citrus fruit like sweet lime or orange daily for more benefits.

14. GREEN TEA

This bitter tea may make you cringe your nose but the fact still remains that this tea is an elixir. You must have heard about its effects on weight loss. In addition, it also provides a lot of other health benefits like preventing and treating lifestyle disorders.

Green Tea

It has a protective antioxidant called ‘Epigallactocatechin’ which is an immunomodulator. This antioxidant provides anti-cancerinogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, anti-bacterial, anti-angiogenic, anti-viral, neuro-protective, and cholesterol-lowering effect.

(References: Chacko SM, Thambi PT, Kuttan R, Nishigaki I. Beneficial effects of green tea: a literature review. Chin Med. 2010;5:13. Published 2010 Apr 6. doi:10.1186/1749-8546-5-13)

Recommendation: Have 2 cups of green tea daily to get an optimum dose of healthy catechins.

15. GINGER

Ginger tea is probably a remedy every Grandma has suggested for cold, cough, sore throat & flu. This spice not only adds flavor to food but also helps in preventing some diseases due to its immunity boosting and anti-inflammatory properties.

Ginger

It contains gingerols, shogaol, and paradols which are preventative against some cancers, heart related disorders & diabetes.

(Reference: Mashhadi NS, Ghiasvand R, Askari G, Hariri M, Darvishi L, Mofid MR. Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence. Int J Prev Med. 2013;4(Suppl 1):S36-S42)

Recommendation: You can drink a cup of ginger tea or add an inch of ginger to your recipes daily to garner its immunity boosting effects.

CONCLUSION

All the foods listed in this article are good for immune system & shall give countless benefits to your body. But they ought to be consumed on a regular basis. Over a period time you will have a stronger immunity.

Lastly, invest in health more than material things. We have only one body and hence our aim always should be to feed our body with essential nutrients and keep it in its best form.

(Disclaimer: The information on this site is not intended to replace proper medical care. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking medical treatment due to information contained on this website. Always seek the advice of a trained health professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Proper medical attention should always be sought for specific ailments. )

One Reply to “15 Immunity Boosting foods for a stronger you”

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