Immunity Boosting Superheroes!
Despite the mayhem caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, what is vital to observe are the small yet significant lifestyle changes we can make to ensure we are protected. Don't worry, you can take steps to help keep your body protected against the effects of Covid!
These include washing our hands properly, maintaining a sanitized and sterilized environment, keeping adequate physical distance, going out only when necessary, wearing a mask whenever stepping out, and, as importantly, eating right to ensure our body is prepared to tackle the burden of the virus. We all are what we eat, which remains the same when battling infections and maintaining our immunity.
Be it any age, gender, or anyone with any pre-existing condition (such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory illnesses, or autoimmune disorders), we need to maintain a healthy and disciplined lifestyle to ensure our vitals are in place and our body responds to changes in the most appropriate way. Eating right is one of the basic steps to supply proper nutrition, maintain a healthy immune system, and keep our calories in check.
Some of the most common food items that help to maintain a stable immune system include,
- Citrus fruits like orange, sweet lime, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, clementine, kiwi
- Herbs like ginger, ashwagandha, mulethi
- Fruits and vegetables that are red / orange in colour, like bell peppers, carrots, papaya
- All berries, including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, mulberries, acai berries (wherever available naturally)
- Broccoli and leafy greens like spinach and kale
- Dry fruits and nuts like almonds
The most common nutrients available from all these food sources, helping in keeping the immune system in check, include -
Vitamin C contains powerful antioxidants and helps combat any damage caused due to oxidative stress. Its benefits range from protecting against mild coughs and colds to improving health conditions in patients with severe infection levels, such as sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Generous doses of vitamin C can be derived from citrus fruits, viz. oranges; lemon; tangerines; sweet lime; kiwi; grapefruit; greens such as broccoli, spinach, and kale (wherever available); all forms of berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mulberry, elderberry, acai, and goji berries (wherever available); red bell peppers; and tomato juice.
Vitamin D has been shown to confer bone strength, maintain, and regulate the levels of calcium and phosphate in the body as well as facilitate the normal functioning of the immune system. The most abundant source of vitamin D is sunlight; however, owing to the stagnant lifestyle of many these days, most people are left with a vitamin D deficiency.
The only plant source that provides vitamin D are mushrooms, so ensure you eat them regularly.
Vitamin A is an omnipotent vitamin that helps maintain multiple vital functions of the body—whether it is maintaining eyesight, regulating the immune system, maintaining good hair and skin, or maintaining overall growth and development, it is everywhere!
It plays a significant role in reducing oxidative stress and ensuring protection against free-radical mechanisms. This is crucial to maintaining a healthy immune system.
Precursors of vitamin A known as carotenoids are present in most red and green vegetables such as carrots, spinach, kale, sweet potato, grapefruit, and red and yellow bell peppers.
Vitamin E is another forerunner of immunity in the body. It is responsible for fighting oxidative stress in the body and prevents the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) when fats are oxidized in the body. It occurs naturally in most food sources. Common sources include avocados, kiwi, spinach, broccoli, mangoes and green turnips.
Zinc is another power-packed nutrient that helps maintain white blood corpuscles (WBCs), which fight infections. Zinc deficiency can end up making people susceptible to a lot of diseases. Common fresh sources of zinc include legumes, spinach, asparagus, okra, mushrooms, garlic, broccoli, and kale.
Other Factors to Help You Stay Fit
Remaining adequately hydrated is another important factor in maintaining good health. Hydration keeps the body balanced and flushes out toxins, which may cause severe damage if accumulated inside the body.
Regular exercising is another critical component. Indulging in 150–200 minutes of moderate activity throughout the week works wonders for the immune system.
Health supplements should be taken if and only if we are advised by a medical professional. Self-advocacy in such cases can do more harm than good.
Above everything else, we need to remember that there is no magic pill for ensuring good health or perfect immunity. It is only our daily practices and constant perseverance that help us reach our goals.