How to strengthen your immunity?
There is no doubt that healthy eating habits lead to healthy lifestyles with increased immunity to fight various illness and infections. However, there still would be some diseases and infections, which would keep striking us, once in a while, regardless of how well we plan our meal options. Common cold and flu are perhaps one of those diseases. Whilst nutrition can not eliminate the chances of contracting flu, it would certainly be helpful in strengthening our immune system and lessening the duration and severity of flu’s symptoms.
Recently, scientists have unraveled the complex mechanism of the immune system and its dependence on diet. Nothing makes as much difference to your health as a well-functioning immune system. If you have a good immunity, you can prevent anything from common cold to viral infection, stomach disorders chronic fatigue to even deadly cancer. Foods contain antioxidants, which stimulate immune functioning and increase your resistance to infections.
Influenza, or flu, is a respiratory tract infection caused by a variety of flu viruses with symptoms like fatigue, fever or headaches. Instead of turning to endless pills, its always better to try natural flu-fighters present in foodstuffs all around us and enhance our immune system. Pump up your immune system with these suggested guidelines-
1. Take plenty of fluids in the form of warm water, soups, juices and watery broths to flush toxic by-products out of the body as quickly and efficiently as possible. Avoid drinks with diuretic (fluid-eliminating) properties, such as tea, coffee, alcohol and carbonated beverages. Get plenty of fluids to thin secretions or the phlegm, making it easier for the body to flush them away from the body.
2. Vitamin C is well-known for treating and preventing colds by boosting our immunity and aiding the white blood cells to destroy the invading viruses and bacteria. Include the rich sources like oranges, amla, sweet lime, broccoli, pineapple, cabbage, cauliflower, and sweet potato. If you smoke, then getting an increased amount of vitamin C becomes especially important as smoking not only increases your risk of catching a cold but also steps up the body’s need for this protective vitamin.
3. The next wonder food is garlic. This marvel of nature helps fight bacteria and virus . On testing the blood of some garlic eaters who were made to eat about 15 cloves a day, it was found that their blood contained more potent T-lymphocytes and macrophages, (which increase natural killers activity and increase immunity) than non garlic eaters. Eat 4-5 cloves of raw garlic every day.
4. Honey is yet another flu fighter- Full of antioxidants and muco- kinetic properties; honey has long been used to help treat sore throats and other bacterial infections. It also can assists in the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestine and thus improves digestive health. It’s advisable to have a tablespoon of honey with warm water or as a sugar substitute for your drinks.
5. Ginger contains a natural plant compound called gingerol that can help to fight off infections and flu. You can have ginger in a ginger tea, or make fresh ginger juice and have it with honey and warm water.
6. Radish is an excellent remedy for thinning down mucous clearing sinuses, blocked nose, mucous related migraine etc. Raw radish can be grated or chopped & chewed. Its juice helps to thin down mucous, to reduce phlegm & to correct sore throat, usually associated with flu.
7. Furthermore, a food rich in mineral zinc has also been studied to improve immunity levels. These are foods like whole grain cereals like bajra, jowar, wheat bran, wheat germ, all shellfish, peanuts, most lentils, skimmed milk, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, spinach etc.
8. Take antioxidants like Vitamin A, selenium, chromium, zinc, Vitamin C and E daily either in the natural form or in a pill form.
9. The herb Echinacea is known to strengthen the immune system by exhibiting antiviral and antibacterial properties. It is especially effective against the cold virus and may be taken at the very onset of flu like symptoms.
10. Any food which is spicy enough to make your eyes watery will have the same effect on your nose, promoting release of mucus and breaking up of congestion. Taking a bowl of chili or other spicy foods containing horseradish, hot pepper sauce, ginger, cloves, hot mustard or garam masala helps.
11. Eat Foods rich in beta-carotene or vitamin A such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, broccoli, spinach, apricots, peaches, cherries to keep your immune system strong.
A daily routine of high-fat, high-sugar junk foods, tendencies to skip meals and intake of lots of caffeine and inadequate sleep can make you more susceptible to minor illnesses like colds and flu. Choosing nutritious food options such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat protein as a part of your cold and flu armor always works better to boost your immunity and to keep your body ready to strike back whenever any illness strikes.
ANJALI MUKERJEE, Nutritionist, Founder Director-Health Total, having health centers
in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune -manages obesity & other health related disorders.
Contact numbers: 96506 84061 /+91 86575 61727
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