By Jessica Robinson
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic is testing the endurance of the world to the core. The highly contagious virus is affecting millions of people worldwide and has made public health vulnerable. In such a virulent scenario, our health and safety is both a personal and public responsibility. In addition to following public health guidelines, everyone needs to enhance their immunity to be able to protect themselves from the virus efficiently. Given that, healthy eating has a direct correlation with the state of the human body’s immunity. People should keep this in mind and include immunity-boosting foods in their diet plans. This thoughtful post sheds light on the inclusions that need to be made in daily diets to amplify the body’s immunity.
Why is it significant to look after immunity?
In the simplest terms, the immune systems are mechanisms that protect human bodies against pathogens. An immune system is an integrated network of cells and tissues that form a defense mechanism against invading viruses and bacteria. As explained by Medical News Today, the immune system identifies the proteins on the surface of all cells in the human body. When foreign proteins or antigens are detected, the immune system is triggered to fight foreign bodies. So, the immune system in an undeniable way is paramount to health and survival.
Speaking of response to COVID-19, the World Health Organization states that eating healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential. The choices of food and beverages can directly impact the body’s ability to prevent, battle, and recover from the virus. It is evident that subject to body immunity; the virus is affecting different people in different ways. There are variations in symptoms and the intensity of the COVID-19 infection among people. Not all people had to get admitted to a hospital, as millions of people have recovered by isolating themselves at home. This augments the argument why immunity plays such a key role as a health determinant. The subsequent section puts forth a list of foods that have the potential to upscale immunity in human bodies.
Foods that are known to enhance immunity
Vitamin C rich foods
Vitamin C has medicinally proven benefits in terms of maintaining healthy immunity. Here it is noteworthy that the human body does not produce or store Vitamin C. So, people must make it a part of their diets on a daily basis in order to keep their immunity affluent. Vitamin C boosts white blood cells that help the human body to fight infections. As per the National Institutes of Health, US, the suggested daily amount is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men.
Speaking of foods rich in Vitamin C, all citrus fruits contain high levels of the vitamin. Oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruits, and tangerines are among the best sources of VItamin C. Besides, broccoli, bell peppers, potatoes, and brussels sprouts are among other Vitamin C enriched foods.
Garlic not only adds a tinge of flavor to the food we make daily, but it also has incredible health benefits. Garlic is known to contain high proportions of sulfur compounds that attribute to its immunity-boosting properties. In addition to improving immunity in general, there is empirical evidence suggesting that garlic helps prevent the hardening of arteries and keeps blood pressure in check.
Almonds are rich in Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that facilitates the efficiency of immune systems. Also, almonds and other nuts include high proportions of healthy fats. The recommended daily intake for Vitamin E is not more than 15 mg. Half a cup of shelled almonds can account for almost 100 percent of the daily recommended intake.
Yogurt is another excellent food when it comes to boosting immunity. The ‘live and active cultures in Greek yogurt help the body enhance its response to foreign pathogens. Besides, it also contains decent amounts of Vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a key role in improving the overall defense mechanisms of the body.
It is suggested that people should go for plain yogurts rather than flavored ones. They can add honey and fresh fruits to yogurt to make it delicious and even healthier. In the larger picture, too, Greek yogurt gives an organic perspective to health.
Turmeric is a common food ingredient in many cuisines of the world. More than the flavor, turmeric has some exclusive health benefits. Turmeric has excellent anti-inflammatory properties that supplement the immune system of the human body. Scientific research has confirmed high concentrations of curcumin. Curcumin gives turmeric its distinguishable color and medicinal properties. Further, curcumin has anti-viral and immunity-boosting benefits. So, people should add moderate amounts of turmeric to their daily food items.
Spinach, in addition to Vitamin C, also has multiple antioxidants and beta carotene. Beta carotene is well known for its ability to increase the infection-fighting efficiency of the body. Some pieces of research also suggest that beta carotene helps people to retain the strength of their lungs.
It is noteworthy that experts suggest cooking spinach as little as possible. If overcooked, it can lose its nutritional value. The nutrients of spinach should be preserved to support the idea of a healthy lifestyle.
Green tea has much more health benefits than aiding weight loss. Green tea is rich in flavonoids, a class of efficient antioxidants. Plus, green tea contains high levels of epigallocatechin gallate that is another powerful antioxidant. Various studies indicate that epigallocatechin gallate improves the responses of the immune system.
To add, green tea is a great source of L-theanine, an amino acid that adds to the germ-fighting compounds in T cells.
In summary, it is vital to note that healthy eating alone cannot protect people from COVID-19. There is no specific diet that has proven benefits for protection against the virus. But healthy eating is still salient to support and bolster the defense mechanisms of the body. The battle against COVID-19 also requires compliance with public health guidelines and social distancing norms. Eating healthily to boost immunity is an added prevention and not a singular one. The pandemic is not over yet; the world needs to come together but maintain distance. Keep yourself safe, keep your immune system healthy and follow protocols.
Jessica Robison is a guest writer, personal blogger, and the content manager for The Speaking Polymath.
Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash