Regular consumption of immune boosting foods provides the vital ingredients, which function together to support the functioning of our immune system.
They act as the building blocks to create a strong backbone of good immunity that helps to keep the allergies, infections, and sickness away.
What we consume on a daily basis provides us with the required energy and nutrients to nourish the tiny soldiers or antibodies our immune system produces.
And then to maintain strong immunity, we should tend to our immune system by providing it stimulation through exposure to natural environment and exercise. Also, we should take ample of rest to help your body rejuvenate.
In this post, you will learn how Immune system functions and how each nutrient is responsible for strong and responsive Immunity.
You will also get to know the nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and specific foods lists that will help you to boost your immunity and improve the functioning of your immune system.
This post on Immune Boosting Foods is also available in video here.
5 Most Important Things for a Strong Immunity
A strong and healthy immune system depends on a balanced healthy diet over time. Sure, our immune system doesn’t work in a way that you can pop in pills or supplements overnight and expect it to function at its best.
So, in order to boost immunity and to truly take care of our overall health, it’s important to monitor the foods that we eat on regular basis.
And at the same time, our lifestyle should be conducive to maintain good immunity that we are building from these immune boosting foods.
You can naturally boost your immunity by observing these 5 daily practices:
- Consuming fresh and healthy foods that supply you with ample of Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants
- Keeping your digestion good so that you can absorb the essential nutrients to improve your immune system
- Exercise regularly to keep your metabolism good and remove the toxins that jeopardize your immunity.
- Sleeping on time and by getting good sleep
- Keep your mind relaxed and remove stress through meditation or deep breathing exercises.
All in all, your diet and lifestyle should help to support the working and strength of our immunity. Sure, the nutrients that we talk about in this post are important. And, your food should be rich in these nutrients.
Yet, it is even more important that it should also be easily digestible to make those nutrients available to your Immune system organs.
Ayurvedic View | How to Boost Your Immunity?
According to Ayurveda, strong immunity results from a healthy mind and body.
Both physiological factors and psychological factors are important, when it comes to a healthy functioning of our organs and body functions.
This synchronous rhythm leads to a perfect state of interaction with our external environment. And hence it enables us to flourish mentally and physically.
Strong Immunity results from a balanced state of Body and MindAyurveda
The strength of our Immunity is highly dependent on our diet and lifestyle!
When this rhythm is broken, our immunity gets compromised. And then we can fall sick from any external changes such as changes in food, temperature, and due to exposure of microorganisms including bacteria, yeasts, and viruses.
Functioning of Our Immune System
Our skin and the layers of mucus on our internal organs such as nose, mouth, and gut act as the first line of defense against pathogens and microbes.
If they escape this barrier, our immune cells alert the system to activate a full-blown attack.
With this attach, our immune system tries to get rid of the pathogens and heal our body. Here’s what our immune system does:
- PROTECTS: It produces specific killer cells to destroy the pathogens
- COMMUNICATION: Generates memory cells to retain the information of these pathogens for the future. This will help to prevent any illness in future from the same pathogen.
- HEALING: It also activates the healing mechanisms of our body to repair the damage caused by pathogens.
Cell numbers multiply and increase greatly during the sickness period or the immune response mode. This step requires both energy and nutrients that would help the cells to function.
That’s why it is important that nutritive foods and ample of rest are provided to the sick at this point.
Natural Immune Boosting Foods should be consumed on a daily basis
It is very common to pop in pills of supplements containing multi-vitamins or minerals and feel that our immunity is getting supported.
However, these synthetic supplements tax our body’s inner functioning. They slow down our digestive system and also alter the functioning of our gut microbiome in the long run.
You may also be prone to over dosing as you do not really know how much is enough and where it is going in the body. That’s why it’s best to get your vitamins and minerals from your food rather than in pill form.
Of course, there are some exceptions to this, specifically in cases of acute need or for somebody going through transition phases of life.
However, for majority of the individuals it is best to get a wholesome diet containing plenty of immune boosting foods in the natural form.
Importance of Immune Boosting Foods and Healthy Diet to Boost Immunity
The foods that we put into our mouth provides the nourishment to build healthy body tissues and to support the functioning of our immune system.
- Vitamins A to E, Minerals as Zinc and Selenium, Dietary Fiber, and Probiotics are required nutrients that support various functions of the Immune System.
- For a fast response of the immune system, it is critical that these nutrients are made readily available to the immune system organs for regular maintenance functions and during sickness.
- A diverse diet consisting of whole grains, rainbow-colored vegetables, and fruits, fermented and sprouted foods is naturally rich in the essential nutrients.
- A perfect proportion of Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants in NATURAL foods ensures maximum absorption of nutrients, resulting in a strong immunity.
- High bio availability of nutrients may not always be the case for artificially prepared supplements and foods, which often have either very high dosage or unwanted chemicals causing side-effects.
Hence, natural immune boosting foods should always be preferred.
List of Essential Nutrients and Immune Boosting Foods
Our top list of Immune Boosting Foods consists of Vitamins that range from A to E, Minerals, Prebiotics, and Probiotics. Let us learn about the role of each nutrient and where you can get them from.
1. Vitamin A
VITAMIN A is a fat soluble vitamin that participates in all three functions of a healthy immune response. It is an essential nutrient for good vision, healthy skin cells, for cellular intelligence and for the working of immune system.
Top sources of Vitamin A include red, yellow, and dark green leafy vegetables such as:
- Sweet Potato
- Raw Banana
- Drumstick Leaves
- Amaranth Greens
- Curry Leaves
- Turnip Greens
- Fenugreek Leaves
- Amla – Indian Gooseberry
Dietary Tip: One large sized carrot is enough in a day to cover your daily needs of Vitamin A.
2. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) – Immune Boosting Foods
Vitamin B6 is a vital Vitamin that affects the speed and strength of our Immunity as well as of metabolism.
It can alter the Immune functions related to COMMUNICATION or Alert raising capability, GENERATION of antibodies, and also MEMORY retention related to pathogens.
Vitamin B6 deficiency can impair T-cell (immune cells) functioning. It results in a decrease in blood lymphocyte counts.
Top sources of Vitamin B6 include:
- Whole grains
- Pistachio Nuts
- Sweet Potato
- Squash and Pumpkin
- Sesame Seeds
- Brussels Sprouts
- Beans and lentils
- Dairy – cheese, and yogurt
- Sprouted Foods
- Buttermilk or Curd
- Wheat Germ
- Sunflower Seeds
- Water Chestnut
Dietary Tip: 1 serving of salmon, or 3 medium-sized potatoes with skin, or 1 cup of beans will cover your daily requirement of Vitamin B6.
3. Vitamin C
VITAMIN C is a powerful antioxidant that affects the strength of Immune functions related to Primary Barrier, Communication, and Production of antibodies.
It also affects the healing function related to prevention and cure of OXIDATIVE damage during Immune system response. Top sources of Vitamin C include:
- Citrus fruits – Orange, Lime, Grapefruit,Mandarins, and Pomelo
- Berries – Raspberry, Blackberry, Cranberry
- Herbs such as curry leaves and Moringa
- Indian Gooseberry or Amla is the richest plant-based sources of Vitamin C.
- Corainder leaves
- Chili Peppers
- Orange Peel
- Malabar Spinach
Dietary Tip: one piece of Amla, or a Kiwi, or an Orange is enough to cover your daily Vitamin C.
4. Vitamin D
VITAMIN D is critical for the functioning of our ADAPTIVE IMMUNE response. It affects the functions related to the production of specific antibacterial cells that would DESTROY and RETAIN information for the future.
One of the best and most effective sources of Vitamin D is right and timely exposure of our body parts to sunlight. Here are some of the Vitamin D food sources:
- Shiitake Mushroom
- Enoki Mushroom
- Maitake Mushroom
- Oyster Mushroom
- Button Mushroom
- Dandelion Greens
- Moringa Leaves
- Fortified Foods
- Oily Fish (Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines, Herring, Tuna)
- Red Meat
- Egg Yolk
Dietary Tip: 15-30 minutes of sunlight exposure to major body parts per day is sufficient for daily Vitamin D requirement.
5. Vitamin E
VITAMIN E affects the speed and growth of Killer Cell production. It also acts as the healing agent against oxidative damage caused during Immune Response. Top sources of Vitamin E include:
- Sunflower seeds
- Wheat germ
- Cottonseed Oil
- Rice Bran Oil
- Mustard Seeds
- Cayenne Pepper
- Curry leaves
- Cloves Parsley
- Moringa Leaves
- Mustard Leaves
Dietary Tip: Half a cup of sunflower seeds, a handful of almonds, or few sprigs of curry leaves will cover your dietary requirement.
6. Zinc – Immune Boosting Foods
Mineral ZINC is responsible for the strength of BARRIER (first protection layer), antibody PRODUCTION, and MEMORY functions of Immune System.
Top food sources of Zinc include:
- Brown Rice
- Whole Wheat
- Dried Beans and lentils
- Leafy Greens
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
- Fermented whole grain foods
- Cocoa Powder
Dietary Tip: 4 tablespoons of sesame seeds, or pumpkin seeds, or 2 cups of sprouted beans will cover your daily requirement for Zinc.
Mineral SELENIUM is essential for all Immune system functions: BARRIER, antibody PRODUCTION, MEMORY, and HEALING. Selenium is required in small amounts by our body. And it is best to take it from the foods.
You can get Selenium from:
- Brazil Nuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Brazil Nuts
- Mustard Seeds
- Ground Ginger
- Oat bran
- Pinto Beans
Dietary Tip: One or Two Brazil nuts, half a cup of sunflower seeds, or 4 oysters will cover your daily Selenium requirement.
Our Gut or the digestive system is the largest Immune organ. It is also home to trillions of friendly microbes. PROBIOTICS affect the balance and nature of our gut flora!
When operating in a balanced mode, the friendly bacteria help in the absorption and assimilation of nutrients from our food. Rich sources of probiotics include:
- Curd or Takra (Buttermilk)
- Miso Paste
- Sour Dough
While there is no specific limit when it comes to probiotics from food, it is highly recommended that we should include at least one probiotic food source on a daily basis in our meals. They replenish the gut flora, hence allowing us to absorb nutrients from the food.
Here’s a recipe of homemade probiotics drink: Takra or Buttermilk, which is the best way to take probiotics according to Ayurveda.
Takra | Lassi Recipe with Indian Spices
- Blender (Hand blender or food processor)
- ¼ cup Fresh curd Make sure that it is not too sour
- 1 cup Plain water
- 1 Sprig Curry Leaves optional
- ½ tsp Cumin Seeds Roasted and Ground (Make and store the powder in an airtight container)
- 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds optional
- 1 pinch Asafetida optional
- ¼ tsp Sunth (Dry ginger powder)
- ½ tsp Black Pepper Powder
- ¼ tsp Rock Salt or Black Salt
- 1 sprig Mint Leaves or Coriander Leaves You can add both or one. This can be used for garnishing and for Pitta balance. Use this instead of seasoning with mustard seeds and curry leaves.
- Combine curd, water, ginger powder, rock salt, and cumin powder in a blender. Blend well and set aside.
- Add finely chopped mint leaves or coriander leaves. OR you can season the takra as directed below.
- For seasoning, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
- Add asafetida, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Let the seeds crackle.
- Add to butter milk and stir well.
Proteins provide the building blocks to make the structure of immune cells. If sufficient protein is not there, your body will naturally have a weakened immune response.
Several studies have shown that protein deficiency can result in depletion of immune cells, inability of the body to make antibodies and several other immune-related problems.
High-quality, complete proteins are found from many sources:
- Fish and shellfish
Many vegetables and grains are also excellent sources of many of the immune-stimulating amino acids
- Whole grains such as broken wheat (daliya), unpolished rice and brown rice
- Millets and Amaranth
- Sprouts, Beans and Lentils
- Nuts and Seeds
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Green leafy vegetables
Day One or One Day…You Decide! These immune boosting foods and nutrients to strengthen your immunity will work well for you if you stick to them on regular basis..
Don’t rush it though! Take baby steps…and start with one thing at a time. Give yourself and your body time to adjust to the change that you are bringing in. Once, you are cool with the new thing, move on to the next step.
Now we would like to hear from you. Have you tried any of the above foods and health advise to boost your immunity? What worked for you and what was your experience? Do let us in the comments below.
Or if you have any queries. Ping us here and we’ll get back the soonest. Wishing you vibrant health!