One of the most commonly searched term in the last few months has been immunity boosting foods. With the COVID-19 crisis at hand, many are looking at ways to power up their body’s ability to fight off the infection.
There have been messages galore shared on social media. Some claim remarkable benefits, while some have gone on to state they have a cure for the Coronavirus infection.
While we still have a lot to learn about how to protect ourselves, increasing your consumption of immune boosting foods or taking supplements that could help is not a bad thing.
So let’s take a look at some of the best immunity boosting foods you can include in your diet today to keep you safe.
Immunity Boosting Foods
Our nutrition plays a pivotal role in keeping our immune system healthy. Under-nutrition is often associated with an increased risk of infections.
When we suffer from any infection, our immune system relies on us constantly ‘feeding’ it with nutrients that keep it going till the infection is cleared. An activated immune system consumes a lot more energy than when it is quiescent, so making sure you eat right is essential.
Most of the vitamins, proteins and certain minerals are important in keeping the immune system fighting fit. We will take a look at each of these vitamins, and the best foods sources for them
Low levels of vitamin A are well known to increase risk of infection. This fat-soluble vitamin has an important role in maintaining a ‘barrier’ within the body that will prevent infective organisms from entering the system.
In particular, vitamin A strengthens the function of a cell called neutrophil – a cell that ‘eats up’ the bacteria that invade the body. Low vitamin A levels are linked to poor neutrophil function.
Best foods sources of vitamin A include cod liver oil, carrots, papaya, whole eggs, spinach, broccoli and dark green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin D is synthesized in the body through exposure of skin to sunlight. Unfortunately, staying in for long hours (working from home) and pollution has drastically lowered vitamin D production within the body, prompting the needs for supplements that contain vitamin D (along with other vitamins).
Vitamin D has a dual role in immune system maintenance. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to development of respiratory infections, which is why it is recommended in the prevention of COVID infections these days. It works by stimulating cells called macrophages, which are vital elements in fighting off infections.
The only sources of vitamin D are fortified milk and some fortified foods. If you are low in vitamin D, you may want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement for your immunity.
Vitamin E is another fat-soluble vitamin which aids our immune system. Low vitamin E levels are associated with poor natural killer cell activity. These cells are also a part of our immune system.
The immunity boosting properties of vitamin E are more pronounced in elderly people. It appears that may have some benefit in reducing the chances of chest infections.
The best food sources of vitamin E include spinach, broccoli, nuts such as almonds and peanuts, cooking oils (sunflower and safflower), and sunflower seeds.
This micronutrient is packed with immunity boosting properties. It is essential in the synthesis of DNA – the building block of all cells and tissues in the body.
Low levels of zinc in the blood can lower the body’s ability to muster up an immune defense against bacteria. The natural killer cells and lymphocyte cell counts can reduce.
Natural sources of zinc include whole grain, meat, chickpeas, milk products, and nuts such as cashews.
This nutrient can also help boost immunity, and works in a similar manner to zinc.
Primary sources are non-vegetarian, including chicken, pork, eggs, whole grain and dairy products.
If you are looking for immunity boosting foods, make sure you select the ones that are rich in the above nutrients.