World food day: Healthy food habits to armor our immune system in the changing weather

October 16, 2020 12:56 PM

Most grown-ups face such common symptoms twice a year whereas in children it is observed to be around 5-6 times.

Key soldiers in the fight include vitamins like A, C, E, B6, D, and minerals like zinc, iron, and selenium that help maintain a strong immune system and they are also antioxidants. (Representational image: IE)

By Namit Tyagi

The Autumn season has just begun in the country and we all are starting to fall a little sick with the common symptoms of cold and cough. Most grown-ups face such common symptoms twice a year whereas in children it is observed to be around 5-6 times. Everytime the weather changes, the count of allergens in the air also spikes up to nearly 200 viruses. The most common virus is Human Rhinovirus (HRV) that causes 40% of all colds. Thus these are mild viruses and can be eliminated easily from our body by following few precautionary measures.

To keep your immune system strong this season, adapt certain dietary habits and enjoy the festive season without any hurdle:

Eat more citrus fruits and vegetables – Citrus fruits are an amazing source of Vitamin-C. It strengthens our immunity system and keeps our skin smooth and elastic. Citrus fruits are also rich in Vitamin-B nutrients, copper, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium as well. For their antioxidants properties, add them in their mid-morning or evening snack in the form of either salad or juice. Infact, having an orange a day is sufficient enough to fulfill all our Vitamin-C requirements.

Make sure you eat enough protein – Protein helps our body in infinite ways. From muscular development to improving digestion. It is an important compound required in blood oxygenation which is then carried in all over the body. Add protein in your every meal in an adequate amount to fulfill your protein requirements thus help your body produce antibodies to boost immunity. The sources of protein include lentils, egg whites, quinoa,soya, broccoli and other dairy & poultry products.

Don’t overlook prebiotic foods – Add prebiotic sources in your meal or smoothies. Prebiotics are found in foods such as onion, garlic, banana, and curd. They assist in maintaining a balanced gut microbiome, which is a vital player in how your immune system functions. Prebiotics work by increasing the population of good bacteria in the gut which in turn sparks the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, which are tiny proteins that help the immune system function.

Get enough vitamins through your diet – Key soldiers in the fight include vitamins like A, C, E, B6, D, and minerals like zinc, iron, and selenium that help maintain a strong immune system and they are also antioxidants. Some foods that are rich in these vitamins include carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, strawberries, almonds, avocados, salmon, oysters, tuna, and lean chicken breast. Enjoy adding them to your regular meals, evening or morning salads and smoothies.

Add Herbs and spices in your diet – Turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, clove, Tulsi, Giloy, ashwagandha, Mulethi are ayurvedically known for boosting immunity, you can enjoy them as kadha or tea in the early morning or evening. You can add ashwagandha powder or tablet with milk at night or post-dinner to have sound sleep because sound sleep helps in boosting your immune health.

Thus, adding on a few basic ingredients from our kitchen in our dietary routine and swapping junk evening snacks with a bowl of fruits and sprouts could make a big difference in terms of health and energy levels in our body.

(The author is Co-Founder & Head Nutritionist, Neuherbs & Neusafe India. Views expressed are personal.)

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