Immunity is the ability of the body to fight or resist a particular infection or toxin, protecting it against various diseases. A strong immune system is the key to staying healthy. This is even more true in the current situation, whereby immunity has a key role to play in combating covid-19.
The covid-19 pandemic and practice of social distancing has confined everyone to the four walls of their homes. The increasing stress of balancing household and office work, inability to meet close family and friends and venturing out can take a toll on overall health and well-being. Therefore, ensuring health and wellness by strengthening immunity to protect yourself from falling ill is crucial, especially during this time.
Immunity can be strengthened naturally by avoiding stress, getting adequate sleep, engaging in regular physical activity, and most importantly by consuming a wholesome, nourishing diet packed with all essential nutrients.
While, generally, the Indian diet comprises foods filled with most of the crucial vitamins and minerals, there are some dietary musts that we can’t afford to ignore.
The foundation of a strong immune system is laid with essential macro and micronutrients. In fact, here are three key nutrients that we just cannot afford to ignore:
Zinc is vital for the proper functioning of the immune system and plays an important role in the inflammatory response. Moreover, scientific evidence documented in the past few decades also demonstrates that the consumption of zinc plays a significant role against viral infections.
Zinc can be easily included in the diet through foods or as a dietary supplement. The zinc requirement depends upon the personal diet of individuals. Those who consume a vegetarian diet, may have a requirement close to two-times greater than those who consume a non-vegetarian diet.
Zinc-rich foods: Legumes such as lentils; chickpeas and beans; seeds including sesame, squash and pumpkin; meat; nuts such as almonds, cashew and pine nuts; dairy products like milk and cheese, eggs; whole grains; and shellfish. For vegetarians, consuming zinc through dietary supplements is recommended.
3. Vitamin C
Although it cannot be stored in the body, vitamin C has significant health benefits. It is a powerful antioxidant and can boost immunity. It helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease by keeping blood pressure in control. Vitamin C also helps maintain the uric acid levels in the body and prevents gout which is a kind of arthritis.
Vitamin-C-rich foods: Citrus foods (such as oranges), pineapple, kiwi, grapes, lemon, berries, red and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, and sprouts.
3. Vitamin D: Vitamin D is an essential daily nutrient and can protect against diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. While the primary source of vitamin D is sunlight, it can also be consumed through diet and supplements. A deficiency in Vitamin D can not only affect immunity but can also cause osteoporosis, brittle bones, and increase your risk of fractures.
Vitamin-D-rich foods: Cod liver oil in fish (like salmon, tuna and sardines), egg yolks, mushroom, fortified foods, cow’s milk and soya milk, oatmeal, cereals, and cheese.
A fortified immune system is the best personal defense that we can put against any kind of infection. Needless to say, it’s more important now than ever before that our immune system can be fortified. Prioritize a balanced diet in your life and stay safe.