Food is medicine and what happens on our plates to a large extent dictates how healthy we are and how strong our immune system is. Good food can nourish the immune system, and bad food can cripple it.
Why do the oldest remedies to cure fever, colds, coughs, flu, headaches, stomach aches, or other physical ailments involve food as the first step? Because food heals us, from a spice or herb to various concoctions and dishes. According to Luke Coutinho, a holistic lifestyle coach who works in integrative medicine and lifestyle, “When it comes to immunity, we are talking at the cellular level. Our diet should include all the basic macros (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and micro (vitamins, minerals), fiber, probiotics and prebiotics in the right balance and in the right amount.
The ability of the right food to boost immunity may be linked to gut health. According to Dr Vishnu Satheesh, Senior Wellness Advisor, Atmantan Wellness Center, Pune, “If you eat a low-fiber diet that is high in sugar, you can develop a leaky gut where toxins enter your bloodstream and reach other parts of the organs, and this can lead to autoimmune diseases. In such a condition, your absorption will be very poor and you will have fatigue and brain fog. good diversity of flora.
There are two types of immunity, innate immunity, which we are born with, and acquired immunity, which we develop as a result of exposure to disease or vaccination. Sakshi Bakshi, Founder of Nucros, says, “The food we eat, the level of physical activity we engage in, and our lifestyle can all support or break our acquired immunity. The Covid-19 pandemic has made us all realize the importance of good immunity, but immunity requires a holistic approach.
Food is important, but it’s only part of building a strong immune system. According to Lovneet Batra, nutritionist, “The main factors that affect immunity are nutrient-dense foods, stress and level of physical activity, sleep and sunlight. Our lifestyle dictates how we deal with these factors. To build robust immunity, one must obtain adequate amounts of all of the above and if there is a gap it can be filled with supplements after consulting your doctor or nutritionist. “
Another aspect of immunity that is often overlooked is that it is an ongoing process. It can’t be built overnight and there isn’t a single magic food or pill that works to turn it on or off. Batra adds: “Immunity protects our body against infection, but above all it is a delicate system within our body that should not get carried away. “
Diet and gut health
About 70 percent of the immune system depends on gut health. You can eat all the foods that boost immunity, but if the digestive system is not able to break them down, there is no point. Coutinho says: “I like to focus not only on health, but also health at the cellular level. What keeps a cell alive and functioning best? The food and energy we get from it and the oxygen in the air we breathe. “
Food contains energy and the right kind of food is what fuels every cell the right way. “While a clean, healthy diet contains foods that are highly vibratory, processed, putrid, burnt and refined foods are foods with low vibration. It impacts all aspects of body, mind and spirit. Food is meant to energize and fuel you, not to exhaust you. and deprive you of energy, ”adds Coutinho.
What’s on the plate
People with deficiencies should take supplements, such as vitamin D. “But if you eat the right mix of foods in the right form using the herbs, spices, and ingredients from your cooking, you can strengthen your system. immune, ”Batra advises.
However, strong immunity isn’t just about supplements, kadhas, powders, and superfoods. Although you may need additional supplementation of a particular nutrient in case of real deficiency, the secret to a strong immune system lies in our daily diet and its healthy, natural, unprocessed, unrefined and seasonal character. .
Some of the foods that boost immunity can be khichdi, amla, local and seasonal fruits, cruciferous and leafy vegetables, chickpeas and sattu, Indian spices such as turmeric, pepper black, cinnamon, jeera, ajwain and fennel, and herbs like thyme, oregano and rosemary.
Having these foods is only one piece of the puzzle and the focus on immunity needs to be holistic.
Vitamins, minerals and their sources
From vitamins like vitamin A to the whole family of B vitamins, and vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin E to trace elements like zinc, selenium, iron, copper, all have a role to play in strengthening immunity.
Vitamin A: Green vegetables such as drumstick leaves, radish and curry leaves, eggs and oily fish
Vitamin C: Amla, lemons, peppers, guava, kiwi, mango, orange, parsley, pumpkin seeds and broccoli
Vitamin D: Enriched cereals, egg yolk and fatty fish
Vitamin E : Sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, pine nuts and wheat germ
Zinc: Millets, rajgira and bajra, Bengal gram, oysters, dark chocolate, moringa, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, sattu and chickpeas
Selenium: Brazil nuts, free-range and hormone-free chicken, eggs, mushrooms and cottage cheese