The Corona Virus COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the life of many people worldwide. Consequently, this has drawn people’s attention to personal hygiene, social distancing, and other healthy habits. And, of course, towards immunity-boosting foods and drinks, as the virus kills those with weakened immunity.
With the coronavirus being more common in people over the age of 65, it leads us to understand that immunity decreases with age. So, are elderly people more likely to contract infectious diseases and subsequently die from them? What can be done towards immunity-boosting in the elderly?
Are supplements the answer to immunity-boosting?
With a variety of nutritional supplements just a click away, it may seem like an easy way to boost your immunity. According to associate professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, Dr. Clifford Lo, nutrients from food are best for the body.
Also, consuming immunity-boosting nutrients through foods, is less expensive and tastes better than in supplements.
However, if your immune system is comprised due to an underlying condition, you may need immune booster supplements to improve your immunity. Of course, it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking any supplement to avoid overdose or toxic side effects.
The body’s immune system
Our body’s immune system comprises of a complex collection of cells, processes, and chemicals. These work continuously to defend our body against disease-causing microbes. As a result, we remain healthy and do not think how this system works until we fall sick.
Are there certain factors that can decrease our immunity and make us more prone to an infection or illness? And if so, how can you take care of your immune system?
For instance, can we do it by improving our diet? By taking Vitamins or herbal preparations? Or perhaps bringing a change in lifestyle?
In addition to these, many other questions arise in our minds. So, here are some ways to naturally boost your immunity.
Good-health guidelines to strengthen our immune system.
Being the first line of defense, the immune system functions against germs best when the body is taken well care of.
- Firstly, quit smoking or don’t smoke. The toxins in cigarettes interfere with the growth and function of immune cells.
- Secondly, drink alcohol in moderation as alcohol weakens the body’s ability to fight infections.
- Daily exercise: go for a daily walk or join a yoga class
- Also, sleep for at least 7-8 hours at night: your body heals and regenerates while you sleep.
- Do keep stress under control as it can negatively impact the immune system.
- Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits helps the body’s natural immunity boosting abilities. Also, limit the intake of sugar and processed foods.
- Lastly, avoid infection: Wash your hands frequently and cook your meals thoroughly.
Immunity-boosting ingredients in foods:
Research has shown that plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, and nuts contain not only nutrients but also antiviral and antimicrobial properties.
Furthermore, the nutrients present in food are potent immunity boosters and include
- Vitamins A, C, E, B6, and B12
- Minerals like zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium, etc.
- Proteins: beans, pulses, fish, meat, eggs
- Anti-inflammatory compounds such as fennel, rosemary, turmeric
- Probiotics present in fermented foods
Foods containing immunity boosting substances:
Our elders have always told us that vegetables and fruits are good for our health. Moreover, their nutritional value is maximum when eaten raw.
Also, we have been studying since childhood that these food groups contain fiber, water, and nutrients.
In addition, many people prefer a vegan diet as it can fulfill all our dietary requirements and keep us energetic.
Vitamins present in immunity boosting foods
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, bell peppers, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and strawberries, papaya are rich sources of Vitamin C.
The immunity boosting benefits of Vitamin C include
- Wound healing
- Fighting against infections especially colds
- Absorption of iron and
- Helps keep skin, gums, cartilage, bones, and teeth healthy.
Vitamin A is an immunity-boosting nutrient for triggering the production of white blood cells that fight bacteria and viruses.
Carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and squash are rich sources of beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant.
Moreover, beta-carotene is required for Vitamin A production. Also, it helps form mucous membranes within the respiratory tract, which acts as a barrier against germs.
Tuna, chicken breast, bananas, chickpeas, and baked potatoes are rich sources of Vitamin B6
Vitamin D supercharges the immune system, and the most efficient way to stock on it is to soak up the sun’s rays. So, venture out into the sun daily at least 15-20 minutes to get your dosage of Vitamin D.
Spinach, broccoli, green veggies, and nuts contain vitamin E
Foods that cure a cold, sore throat and flu:
Raw honey: This powerhouse of nutrients has been used since times immemorial to cure a variety of ailments.
It has immunity boosting, antibacterial, and antifungal and antioxidant properties.
Also, pure honey can cure wounds and very effective for a sore throat.
Turmeric: This olden yellow-colored spice has a powerful anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin.
The Journal of Clinical Immunology has a published study which states that curcumin activates the production of T-cells that are the main cells fighting for your health.
Garlic: A great immunity booster, garlic can be eaten raw, prepare garlic bread, or just make it into a paste to add to soups, sauces, stews, mashes, and dressings.
Moreover, garlic has infection-fighting properties, lowers cholesterol hence prevents heart disease.
Ginger: Ginger has been used to cure common colds and flu for centuries. Additionally, it has powerful immunity-boosting properties like
- anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant,
- soothes nausea, and
- digestive problems like bloating and indigestion, and
- helps in weight loss and diabetes
Because your body’s immune response is affected by inflammation, ginger can play a key role in boosting your immunity due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Bone broth: According to a study by the American College of Chest physicians, a hot bowl of bone broth, can relieve cold symptoms.
Chicken soup (for the soul): Ingredients: chicken breast, onions, turnips, sweet potatoes, celery, carrots, and pepper.
A healthy mix of vegetables and chicken breasts can actually have a mild anti-inflammatory effect. Yes, a hot bowl of chicken soup can do wonders for relieving colds and congested chest.
Tomato soup: Whatever recipe you follow, tomatoes are rich in antioxidants and a treat for everyone.
Here’s an immunity shot to beat the flu:
Ingredients: Carrots (2-3), lemon juice, garlic (2 cloves), an inch knob ginger.
A tried and true remedy for colds which works as a “magical elixir” contains
Just mix all these ingredients in warm water and see the magical effect on overall health.
Did you know? All colored fruits and veggies, green tea, beans, dark chocolate, and many other food substances have powerful antioxidant properties. That means they can get rid of the free radicals from the body.
So, why are free radicals harmful? Free radicals are harmful molecules produced by the body when it is exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation. Furthermore, these substances may play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
Pomegranate can be considered as one of the healthiest fruits to eat. The many health benefits of pomegranate are because it is a good source of Vitamin A, C, E, and folic acid.
Moreover, pomegranate has antiviral, antioxidant, and antitumor properties, boosting immunity, and lowering the risk of many diseases.
Foods containing probiotics :
Yogurt: It is one of the healthiest food that contains probiotics (friendly bacteria that are also present in the digestive tract).
Moreover, probiotics help in immunity-boosting by
- maintaining the number of gut bacteria that promotes digestive health
- can help treat and prevent diarrhea
- Improving mood and mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and stress.
- Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
Tip: Yogurt can be eaten in breakfast, or a base in salads dressings or eaten with fruits. It is also rich in vitamin D.
Seeds and nuts- the powerhouse of micronutrients
- Vitamins and minerals
- Omega-3, Omega-6 fatty acids and
- Dietary fibers
These nutrients help in
- Overall immunity-boosting against illnesses
- Aids in digestion improves metabolism
- Reduces inflammation
- Improving heart, brain, and eye health.
You can consume them raw, or include them in salads or in powdered form, add it in smoothies.
Nuts are rich sources of
- omega-3 fatty acids,
- vitamins E and B6
- minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, copper, and manganese
Almonds: A rich source of protein, iron, and vitamin E to boost your immunity and sharpen your memory. You may remember your mother or grandmother soaking almonds overnight and giving them to you in the morning.
Add almonds to your oats, yogurt, or use it as a condiment in foods to enhance flavor.
Walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds in dark chocolate- are super nutritious foods full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Immunity boosting drinks:
First and foremost Water:
We are all well aware that 60% of our bodies comprises of water. And almost all chemical reactions in the body take place in the presence of water.
Moreover, most fruits and vegetables contain a good percentage of water by weight.
In addition, it is common knowledge that we require at least 7-8 glasses of water per day.
But, did you know the immunity properties of water? Water helps flush out toxins from the body. Also, it helps carry oxygen to your body cells.
Among the myriad of functions of water, we need water to maintain our body temperature and prevent us from dehydration.
Detox water is exceptionally good for improving your digestive system and metabolism hence making you more energetic.
Here are some recipes for effective detox water that you can easily make in a jar at home:
Lemon Cucumber Detox Water:
Slice some cucumber and lemon. Mix them together with around six glasses of water. However, to make it flavorsome, you can add ice cubes and fresh mint leaves.
Lemon, ginger and cayenne pepper water:
Start with mixing one tablespoon lemon juice with ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
Again, if you like then add an inch of fresh ginger and a couple of ice cubes
Fruit Infused Water:
Grab your water bottle and add;
- One tablespoon of lemon juice
- ¼ – ½ cup fresh berries like-
- blueberries or
I’m sure we’ve all heard about green tea or green tea flavored foods. Yet, a lot of us are unaware of its numerous benefits.
Besides weight loss and detoxifying our body, green tea is also the best source of antioxidants. Also, it fights against harmful toxins that help in boosting our immune system.
Similarly, it is considered as the ultimate treatment for cold, flu, and viruses like influenza.
Research has also proven for green tea to have anti-inflammatory properties, making you feel light and fresh.
Smoothies are filling and nourishing. Here are some great recipes that you can follow:
- two medium bananas
- one fresh pear or apple, peeled if desired, chopped
- chopped kale leaves, tough stems removed-2 cups
- take half cup of cold orange juice
- cold water -½ cup
- ice cubes
- a tablespoon ground flax-seed
Smoothies are also a great treat for immunity boosting in kids. Some smoothies that are healthy and flavorful include:
- Cherry-Almond Smoothie
- Red Berry-and-Beet Smoothie
- Mango, Coconut and Chia Smoothie
To summarize, we have seen that natural food substances contain nutrients that help to boost the immune system quickly. A variety of simple home recipes that includes herbs, seeds, fruits, and vegetables can be made into delicious remedies for boosting immunity in kids and adults alike.