Immunity in simple terms is the ability of an organism to resist a particular infection or toxin, which is largely dependent upon the diet of the person. The more the variety of foods, the stronger the immunity. Having said that, costly foods and exotic foods are not the only sources of good nutrition. Nutritionist and Dietician Golla Sailaja sheds light on locally available foods that do wonders in providing resistance against ailments and diseases.
Keep in mind:
The best way to get optimum nutrition and prepare the body against the diseases of that season would be to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables. Enjoying a proper diet which has the correct proportions of carbs, protein, fats, fibre and water is also important to boost the immunity. Any food taken in excess or lesser than the recommended value is not beneficial.
Here is a list of basic foods that boost the immunity:
They make an important part of the diet. Both animal and plant fats are beneficial but the ones to be avoided on regular basis include margarine (dalda) and palmolive oil. All other vegetable oils when used alternatively along with the restricted use of ghee help in modulating the immunity. They help in managing diseases involving inflammation and prevent various diseases by stimulating the immune system. A target of ½ litre oil per month should be set for a healthy adult. This includes all the fats that are usually consumed at home except the ones mentioned above.
Homemade curd is the best and among the richest source of probiotics. For those who are unaware, probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that not only help boost immunity but also assist in synthesising some nutrients in the body. The microorganisms in curd help stimulate the immune system, improve immune responses as well as specific and natural immunity. The best part is, curd can be taken in any form, by all age groups and at any time of the day. Store bought curd also gives the same amount of advantages.
Since ancient times, garlic has been a widely-used ingredient in our dishes. The reason being, it is an excellent source of a lot of nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Selenium. Raw garlic is also believed to be a good source of prebiotics (these help probiotics in functioning better). Having said that, eating it raw can create some inconvenience. It is best consumed by adding it to other foods.
The cure for all problems for Indian mothers is mostly haldi, be it fever, injury or a pimple! This wonder ingredient is used in traditional Indian medicine too. The high level of antioxidants in it help cure ailments and keep ageing at bay as well. Haldi is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects and thus not only boosts immunity but restores it as well.
As per Hindu mythology, every household is advised to have a tulsi plant. It is considered divine and is included in Prasadam as well. Daily consumption of this herb helps in preventing disease, promoting general health, well-being and longevity. All these characteristics can be attributed to the fact that it is rich in polyphenols and other nutrients. Naturally grown tulsi is best consumed instead of the extracts available in the market. Why go for artificial when the best is easily available?
Not only tulsi but many other herbs like pudina (mint leaves), etc., also help to boost immunity.
An excellent source of Vitamin C, amla protects the body against infection and improves immune response. It can be eaten in any form like pickled or in murabba, etc, and thus can be bought in season and stored for the rest of the year. Not only gooseberries, but pickled foods also are also good a source of Vitamin C.
‘Eat your greens’ is repeatedly told by doctors, dietitians and moms. Their fame can be attributed to the many ailments they can cure and the wide array of nutrients they possess. Some of them include:
- Fibre – Helps in digestion, reducing absorption of cholesterol. It gives a feeling of satiety, eases excretion and thereby helps in fighting obesity. Fibre is also beneficial in avoiding problems like colitis.
- Vitamin C – Is an antioxidant and helps in the absorption of calcium.
- Antioxidants – Helps in delaying ageing and improves general health.
We are lucky to be born in a country where highly nutritious food is so easily available and affordable too. We should take maximum advantage of it and make India a stronger country.
Tip of the day – As my father says, “Eating Pani puri occasionally only boosts our immunity.” Doing regular exercise and not raising kids over sensitively only helps to boost immunity further.
Golla Sailaja is a Research Assistant at School of Pharmacy and Food Sciences, University of Barcelona. She is qualified with M.Sc in Dietetics and Applied Nutrition.