Exercise and yoga are never enough when it comes to building immunity. You need to complement it with foods that build up your immune system. These foods provide enriching nutrients to the body that help it fight infections and diseases. A balanced diet usually contains enough immune-building foods. However, one might want to give their immune system an extra boost at times. This could be when they are immuno-compromised, during times of a seasonal disease, or during an epidemic. Enriching your diet with foods that boost your immune system in such times helps you combat the additional force of diseases.
What Comprises The Immune System
The immune system of our body is an extensive organization of multiple organs, processes, and chemicals. They work together to protect our body from pathogens and harmful substances. The immune system consists of physical barriers as well as biochemical reactions. Physical barriers include skin, tears, saliva, mucous membranes of internal organ surfaces, filtering hairs, etc. Internal organ systems involved in providing immunity are the bone marrow, lymphatic system, spleen, thymus, appendix, white blood cells, parts of the digestive system, etc. Moreover, the endocrine system closely controls many immune responses.
Nutrients To Include In Diet To Boost Immune System
An immune-boosting diet should contain the following nutrients to help the body bolster its immune system.
- Vitamin A – Vitamin A has anti-inflammatory properties and is responsible for the maintenance of the mucous and epithelial layers.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C forms a large number of functions in the immune system. Thus, it is well-known for its overall immunity-strengthening properties, especially against infections.
- Vitamin D – Nutrient D assumes an indispensable part in the calcium substance and absorption in our bodies. Moreover, it also helps prevent autoimmunity and susceptibility to infections.
- Vitamin E – The most popular capacity of Vitamin E is that of a cancer prevention agent. It helps control free radicals in the body and prevents ageing-related immune deficiencies.
- Iron – Iron plays a very important role in the development of the immune system and the production and maintenance of immune cells.
- Zinc – Zinc is necessary for the body for innate as well as adaptive immunity. It is an essential part of numerous biochemical responses.
- Selenium – Selenium enhances both cell-mediated and humoral immune functions. Moreover, it reduces oxidative stress, inflammation, and DNA damage.
- Folate – Folate helps synthesize and repair DNA, which supports its role as an immunity booster. Apart from that, folate deficiency also impairs cell-mediated immunity.
- Amino Acids – Supplementing specific amino acids connected with the immune defence against certain diseases in the diet can help fight against that disease.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory and anti-autoimmunity properties. It is also responsible for the activations of innate and adaptive immunity.
- Fibres – Dietary fibres have a positive impact on gut bacteria. But recently, research has shown that soluble fibres have the ability to turn pro-inflammatory cells into anti-inflammatory ones.
- Phytochemicals – Phytochemicals include carotenoids, anthocyanin, isothiocyanates, flavonoids, isoflavones, curcumin, and phenolic acids. They are important constituents of many biological reactions and prevent DNA damage. This helps prevent genetic and metabolic diseases.
- Probiotics/Fermented Foods – Besides maintaining the microflora ecosystem in our digestive tract, probiotics, and fermented foods are known enhancers of the immune system.
- Water-Water composes approximately 60% of the body and participates in all reactions and processes. Therefore, besides flushing out pathogens and toxins, water is necessary for the equilibrium and immune health of our body.
Best Immune Boosting Foods
Incorporating immunity-boosting foods in your diet gives both short-term and long-term protection against diseases. Some of the immune system booster foods should and can be taken daily, while others should be taken regularly.
- Citrus Fruits – Citrus fruits are the richest source of Vitamin C and can help combat cough, cold, and flu.
- Berries – Berries like blueberries, red raspberries, and acai berries are considered superfoods. Berries are plentiful in cancer prevention agents, Vitamin C, and phytochemicals. This makes them some of the best foods to boost the immune system.
- Pomegranate – This is one of the best fruits that boost the immune system as it contains anti-carcinogenic ellagitannins, besides other important nutrients.
- Nuts – Nuts are rich sources of proteins, healthy fats, Vitamin E, and essential micronutrients.
- Peppers – Peppers contain unbelievable amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and capsaicin.
- Leafy Greens – Leafy vegetables like kale and spinach also come under superfoods for the immune system. They contain Vitamins A, C, folate, and other minerals.
- Broccoli – Broccoli contains Vitamins A, C, E, K, antioxidants, fibres, calcium, and more.
- Coloured Foods – Colored fruits and vegetables contain lots of phytochemicals, which are known as immunity boosters.
- Sweet Potato – Sweet potato delivers Vitamins A, C, and antioxidants to the body in high amounts.
- Seafood – Shellfish and sea fish are packed with zinc, selenium, and healthy fats.
- Garlic – Most of the immunity-enhancing properties of garlic comes from its active ingredient allicin and antioxidants.
- Ginger – Ginger has anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties due to the ingredient gingerol.
- Mushrooms – Mushrooms provide our bodies with selenium and Vitamin B.
- Turmeric – Turmeric contains curcumin, which has mitigating, against viral, and hostile to cancer-causing properties.
- Neem – Neem is famous for its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-pain, immunomodulating, and antimetastatic properties.
- Green tea – Green tea brings polyphenols, flavonoids, EGCG, and more to your diet.
Including foods to strengthen your immune system in your diet alongside doing yoga can greatly enhance your resistance against diseases. The yoga TTCs and retreats you will find on BookYogaRetreats all include guidance for a healthy, immunity-increasing diet.