Coronavirus prevention: Add these 5 foods to your daily diet to boost your immune system, reduce your risk  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
New Delhi: Scientists and health researchers across the world are scrambling to find a safe, effective vaccine and antiviral drugs to treat as well as help prevent the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) infection. As there’s no specific treatment for COVID-19, taking preventive measures such as eating a healthy diet that can help strengthen the immune system is one of the best things you can do in these difficult times. Research has shown that enhancing immunity, the body’s natural defense system, is vital for maintaining overall health.
While there’s no ‘magic bullet’ pill or food item that will protect you from COVID-19, including a variety of specific nutrient-dense foods in your diet and making other healthier lifestyle choices may boost your immunity, helping you stay healthy and fit.
Why is it important to boost your immune system?
Your immune system – organs, cells, tissues and proteins – carries out bodily processes that fight of viruses, bacteria and other disease-causing pathogens. A strong immune system is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being.
Certain factors such as age, medical conditions and their treatments can weaken the immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections and diseases. People over the age of 60 also have lesser immunity and are at risk of developing complications. Pre-existing conditions like hypertension, diabetes, respiratory problems can increase the risk of severe illness and complications from COVID-19.
The younger generation with no underlying illness may develop mild infections or may be asymptomatic throughout the course of the disease. But there are certain foods that can help improve your immunity which is paramount at this juncture.
So, which foods should you eat to boost your immune system?
Eating a balanced diet can help you stay well. Try adding the following foods to help boost the immune system:
Spinach: Spinach is one of the most nutritious foods packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The leafy, green vegetable is high in vitamin C, beta carotene, and other essential nutrients that support the infection-fighting ability of your immune system and reduce the risk of several diseases.
Button mushrooms: Button mushrooms are a nutritious as well as a delicious addition to your recipe. They can help improve your health in several ways. They contain significant amounts of B vitamins such as riboflavin and niacin, the mineral selenium, all of which play a vital role in a healthy immune system.
Red bell peppers: Red bell peppers aren’t just rich in vitamin C but also a great source of beta carotene. Adding them to your daily diet to strengthen your immune system, keep your eyes and skin healthy.
Almonds: Nuts like almonds are loaded with vitmains, antioxidants and healthy fats. Almonds are high in vitamin E, which is a family of fat-soluble antioxidants that can help the immune system fight infections.
Garlic: This kitchen staple is actually a must-have for your overall health. Garlic contains compounds that can help the immune system fight bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Allicin, the most biologically active compound of garlic, has been linked to major health benefits, including boosting immunity and lowering cholesterol levels.
The bottom line is, a nutritious diet will ensure that your immune system functions optimally, thereby safeguarding you from any disease and infections, including COVID-19. Apart from following the safety guidelines – such as maintaining good hand and respiratory hygiene standards, practicing social distancing, wearing masks and gloves when outdoors – try adding these foods to your diet to develop strong immunity, keep you hale and hearty amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.
As parents, the last thing we want on our hands is a sick kiddo. Nothing is more undesirable than seeing your little one fighting a cold (or worse). We try and get our children to habitually wash their hands, sneeze in their elbows, and keep their fingers out of their mouth (or nose). But, kids will be kids and they have a knack for picking up bugs and germs wherever they go.
As a registered dietitian and mother, I personally try and make sure my daughter eats certain foods to support her immune system. While I know that no food will prevent a viral infection or the flu, certain nutrients found in various foods have been shown to help support a healthy immune system that may offer benefits like help shorten the duration of an illness or lessen symptoms.
Along with adequate sleep, proper hygiene, regular exercise, stress management (toddlers can practice yoga, too!) and a good old boost of natural sunlight, here are some foods I encourage toddlers to eat that are developmentally appropriate and may help support a healthy immune system.
Include These Foods in Your Diet to Boost Up Your Immune System:- To boost up your immunity, the eating habits play a crucial role. Foods that are rich in Vitamin-B should be taken. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) suggested food that is rich in Vitamin-B plant-based foods to stay healthy and boost up your nervous and immune system. FSSAI took twitter to reveal the Vitamin-B rich plant-based food that would play a crucial role to boost up the immunity. Walnuts, Ragi, Arhar Dal, Groundnut, Banana, Fortified wheat flour are the suggested foods.
The foods that are rich in Vitamin B also promote cell heath, good eyesight, growth of the red blood cells, brain health, good digestion, cardiovascular health and they boost up the energy levels as per the report from the Healthline. Walnuts are rich in monosaturated fats and they bring down the LDL or bad cholesterol levels that are present in the body. Walnuts are also rich in linolenic acid and keep the risk of heart diseases away.
Ragi has a low glycemic index, high dietary fibre and antioxidants. They are rich in iron and calcium. Arhar dal is rich in carbohydrates, fibre and proteins. They improve the bowel regularity and reduces the risk of heart diseases. Groundnuts are rich in proteins and they help us to burn the calories and help in weight loss. They keep up the energy levels and protests against the death from cancer.
Banana is rich in water and carbohydrates. It moderates the blood sugar levels and they are rich in antioxidants. Fortified wheat flour prevents nutritional deficiencies in the body and it helps to fight anaemia.
FSSAI recommended eating walnuts to boost immunity. (Source: getty images)
When it comes to boosting your immunity, what you eat plays a very important role. After recommending vitamin C-rich plant-based foods, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has now suggested including vitamin B-rich plant-based foods to one’s diet to stay healthy.
“To strengthen your nervous and immune system, add Vitamin-B rich, plant-based food to your diet from today,” FSSAI wrote on Twitter. Here are the suggested foods that you can eat:
*Walnuts *Ragi *Arhar dal *Groundnut *Banana *Fortified wheat flour
Foods rich in vitamin B are also known to promote cell health, growth of red blood cells, good eyesight, good digestion, brain health and good cardiovascular health, besides boosting energy levels, according to Healthline.
Here are some specific health benefits of the foods recommended by FSSAI:
Walnuts: Rich in monosaturated fats, walnuts help bring down the LDL or bad cholesterol levels in the body. They are rich in linolenic acid, which helps lower the risk of heart disease. They also help reduce inflammation that could otherwise lead to chronic diseases.
Arhar dal: Also known as toor dal, it is rich in healthy carbohydrates, fibre and protein. A 2015 study in Clinical Diabetes suggested that it helps lower the risk of type 2 diabetes as well. Arhar is also known to improve bowel regularity and reduce the risk of heart disease, according to livestrong.com.
Banana: This mostly consists of water and carbohydrates. The pectin and resistant start content in banana helps moderate blood sugar levels, research has shown. They are also rich in antioxidants which reduce the risk of heart disease and degenerative illnesses.
Fortified wheat flour: Eating this prevents nutritional deficiencies in the body. Iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 added to this kind of wheat flour helps in blood formation and fights anaemia, as per ffrc.fssai.gov.in.
An expert breaks down the best sources for immune health
Poor nutrition can influence the body’s performance and affect the immune system. But it’s difficult to say whether specific healthy foods can boost immunity, according to registered dietitian Brandi Thompson, of the Lynn Cancer Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital.
Phytochemicals and antioxidants can help to diminish free radicals produced by stress, environment and more. Deficiencies in some vitamins and minerals affect the immune system, according to Thompson. So it makes sense to ensure you’re getting those vitamins and minerals with a nutritious diet.
Best sources of zinc include vegetables, legumes, nuts, yogurt, whole grains and beef.
Best sources of selenium are nuts, tuna, beef and chicken, tofu, shrimp and mushrooms.
Best sources of iron are beef, chicken, turkey and fish.
Best sources of copper are leafy greens, nuts, seeds and mushrooms.
Best sources of vitamins A, C and E are fruits and vegetables.
Best sources of B6 are eggs, fish, beef, carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, beans, bananas, avocadoes and beans.
Best sources of folic acid are leafy greens, citrus fruits, beans, asparagus, nuts, papaya, banana and avocado.
Probiotics can help to feed the good bacteria and support a healthy immune system, according to Thompson. “Foods rich in probiotics include those that are fermented and or have probiotics added,” she says. These foods include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, some pickles, sauerkraut and kimchee. “Incorporate plain yogurt with fresh berries into your breakfast, pickles or sauerkraut on your grass-fed burgers, and 8 ounces of kombucha with your nighttime meal,” she says.
Plant-based proteins include nut butters, nuts, soy, seeds and beans. Animal-based protein sources include fish, chicken, beef, pork, eggs and dairy products. Reap the benefits of fruits and veggies. “Berries, those tiny sweet red, purple and blue fruits, do pack more of a concentrated punch when it comes to the antioxidants that help boost the immune system. And sprinkle in the orange, yellow and green fruits that each add their piece of the diverse phytochemicals that support the immune system,” Thompson says.
Vegetables are packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals. “Add fresh greens to a smoothie or eat them raw in a salad. Roast peppers and fill them with quinoa and lentils for a meatless meal, or grill zucchini, mushrooms and eggplant to serve as a side dish with hummus,” Thompson suggests.
With a rise in COVID-19 cases and tough flu seasons in Louisiana, anything we can do naturally to help our immune system is worth it. As we age, our immune response becomes reduced, which is why we are more susceptible to infections as we get older. Living a healthy lifestyle has many components and they can all help your immune system. Things like not smoking, exercising, healthy weight, not drinking too much alcohol, getting enough sleep, and minimizing stress are just a few things that can affect your immune system. Good nourishment is also a plus. Specific foods actually strengthen a person’s immune response. I’m just finding out about many of these an thought I’d share them with you. Here are 10 foods that can help boost your immune system.
GoodMills’ new SpermidinEVO wheat germ concentrate is rich in spermidine, a polyamine compound found in ribosomes and living tissues that is associated with various metabolic functions.
Spermidine occurs naturally in the human body and is produced within the cells as well as by bacteria in the intestinal microbiome.
Recent studies in journals Science and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have concluded spermidine supports autophagy, the ‘self-cleaning process’ that takes place in the body’s cells and is linked to a healthy immune system, as well as ‘decelerated ageing’.
During this process, old and superfluous cell components as well as harmful invaders such as viruses are broken down and recycled. These disassembled components can subsequently be used to build new structures, meaning the system provides an energy efficient mechanism for the production and renewal of cells.
GoodMills Innovation noted that the spermidine contained in SpermidinEVO also offers a ‘high degree of purity’. Compared with conventional wheat germs, the concentrate has up to six times the spermidine content: two grams provides the recommended daily intake of one milligram of spermidine.
SpermidinEVO also provides vitamins that enhance these positive effects, GoodMills added. Folic acid, for instance, plays a role in immune defence. Vitamin E, with its cell-protecting function, is considered to be a ‘classic anti-ageing ingredient’, while vegetable proteins and fats round off the nutritional profile.
“This composition allows product developments in the health, wellbeing and healthy ageing market segments. Thanks to its pleasant taste, the concentrate is suitable for numerous applications,” the company said.
Health ‘from the inside out and outside in’
In combination with a high-fibre diet, the company said its wellbeing ingredients contribute to a healthy microbiome and a ‘holistic approach to spermidine supply’.
“The right nutrient source for intestinal bacteria is an important basis for the body’s own spermidine production. Dietary fibres contribute to healthy intestinal flora and thus support spermidine production from within,” explained Michael Gusko, Managing Director.
“The combination of high-fibre ingredients and our spermidine-rich wheat germ concentrate makes it possible to boost cell recycling in two ways — from the inside out and from the outside in.”
Microbiome health has been linked to numerous benefits, from cognition and skin health to immunity. This is an important attribute as the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
“We see that more and more consumers are concerned about a healthy diet and corona crisis is fueling the trend towards a healthy and immune-boosting diet definitely,” Project Manager Johanna Imbeck told FoodNavigator.
“Food manufacturers can of course position themselves well right now by offering appropriate products. As a partner for the industry, it is therefore important for us to provide up-to-date solutions and we can also observe an increased demand.”
Addressing ‘less active health-conscious consumers’
Diet is not the only way to stimulate autophagy. Regular fasting intervals and intensive sport are also associated with the cellular recycling process.
However, GoodMills Innovation sees the mainstreaming of health concerns due to COVID-19 as an opportunity to leverage diet to reach consumers outside the ‘active nutrition’ niche.
“Foods and drinks with SpermidinEVO can address less active health-conscious consumers who find it hard to fit regular activity into their everyday life and would rather not undertake fasting.”
This is opening up innovation opportunities outside the ‘traditional’ supplement space for such ingredients.
“Traditionally, health-promoting properties are very much anchored in the nutraceutical sector. However, more and more consumers are concerned about a healthy diet and are pleased when enjoyable foods bring added value to their health,” Imbeck explained.
GoodMills said its wheat germ concentrate is suitable for multiple mainstream grocery categories, from baked goods, bars, cookies and pasta to liquid applications such as dairy drinks and shakes.
According to the company, it can be ‘easily integrated’ into existing recipes as well as new formulations.
“Especially now in times of the corona pandemic, many consumers are concerned with an intact immune system. In view of this positioning, we therefore see enormous potential in all application areas including everyday foods. Classical positioning is probably in product segments that are already perceived as ‘healthy’ anyway, such as shakes, smoothies but also wholesome baked goods,” Imbeck suggested.
In terms of specific health claims in the EU, there are currently no approved claims for spermidine. However, GoodMills said ‘if dosed in sufficient amounts’ health-related claims such as ‘folic acid for immune system support’, and ‘vitamin E for cell protection’ are possible.
Imbeck added: “In many cases, health claims can also be made in accordance with EU regulations by combining different grain-based ingredients, for example with grain varieties which are rich in zinc or selenium.”
Sources ‘Spermidin in Health and Disease’ Science DOI: http://doi.org/10.1126/science.aan2788 Authors: Madeo, F et al
‘Higher spermidine intake is linked to lower mortality: a prospective population-based study’ The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy102 Authors: Kiechl, S et al
A lot of us are doing everything we can when it comes to our health right now. Making sure that we are healthy has become even more paramount and this is evident in all the decisions we are taking to boost our immune systems whichever way we can.
Having enough sleep, exercising, and getting into a healthy diet all contribute to maintaining our body’s system of defense against illnesses.
A number of foods like blueberries, garlic and sunflower seeds for example have been found to benefit the immune system, but there are many other foods that can weaken our immune system. Below are some of the foods that can cause harm.
If you have a sweet tooth, your immune system is likely to suffer. Researchers have found that excess sugar consumption weakens your body’s immune system, greatly impacting your body’s ability to fight infections like the common cold and flu.
Studies show that the immoderate use of alcohol kills some of the antibody cells needed to destroy virus-infected cells. They reveal that people who drink alcohol are more open to infections and pneumonia because alcohol impairs the activity of immune cells in the blood. They also reveal that when consumed in excess, alcohol is a poison to every system of your body.
A fact that we all know is that junk food is bad for us, but many of us try to ignore that. Junk food affects more than just our waistlines. According to research, a poor diet could also have a direct impact on the immune system. They also note that the fact that your immune system also changes in a fundamental way could have all kinds of negative impacts on your health in the long run.
For most people, nothing says summer quite like biting into a cool slice of watermelon. In addition to being a refreshing treat on a hot day, this fruit is an ovular powerhouse that offers a multitude of immunity boosting benefits.
The fruit is about 91% water, and low in calories and fat. Watermelon is high in potassium, which is important for our nervous system, fluid regulation, and muscle contractions. The fruit also contains vitamins A and C, helping reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cancer. What’s more, it even has lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals.
Winter is in full swing and we’re actively trying to avoid colds and flus. One way to safeguard yourself from sickness is to strengthen your immune system. Your immune system maintains your body’s cells and protects them from infection, so by strengthening it you immediately put yourself in a better position health-wise.
You can do this by making simple diet swaps to eat more nutritional and colourful foods. To explain this further, POPSUGAR Australia spoke to Accredited Nutritionist, Jacqueline Alwill, (@brownpapernutrition) who shares five effective ways you can boost your immune system.
1. Supercharge With Zinc-Rich Foods
Aim to up your intake of chickpeas, lentils, tofu and tempeh, walnuts, cashews, pepitas, linseeds and hemp and if you eat seafood or meat, oysters are some of the richest in zinc per serve. Zinc plays a vital role in immune cell production and function, has powerful antimicrobial effects and can regulate and reduce inflammation.
2. Consume Plenty of Plant-Based Whole Foods
When it comes to both snacks and main meals, think about ‘crowding’ your diet with plant-based foods. They’re abundant in vitamins and minerals of course but also will fuel your gut microbiome with essential fibre which plays a key role in supporting immune cells, 70 percent of which are housed in the gut. Always remember — fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and wholegrain and you’re on the right track. Include those rich in prebiotic fibres such as garlic, leeks, onion, barley, asparagus, steamed and cooled white potatoes and oats — at this time of year it’s easy to kick off the day with porridge for breakfast and a super quick but delicious and prebiotic fibre-rich option is Eimele’s Porridge Sachet which can be served straight up or with added berries or stewed fruits for an extra hit of fibre and antioxidants too.
3. Enjoy an Array of Colourful Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Especially those rich in beta-carotene such as carrots, sweet potato, red and yellow capsicum, spinach and other dark leafy greens. Beta carotene is a precursor to Vitamin A (a powerful antioxidant) which is essential for immune regulation, for antibody response, and protecting cells from the effects of stress and free radical damage. A great snack option to get these antioxidant-rich foods could include a smoothie (serve at room temp so we’re not chilling the body in the winter months) with Eimele’s Chocolate Shake plus two good handfuls of baby spinach or a fresh vegetable juice with carrot, beetroot, celery and ginger.
4. Eat a Healthy Dose of Fermented and Probiotic Rich Foods
Fermented and probiotic-rich foods help to fuel and diversify our beneficial gut microbes or good bugs in the gut. When the good bugs are well fed our digestion and absorption of key nutrients involved in supporting and boosting the function of our immune cells improves too. Aim for sauerkraut, kimchi, natural pot set yoghurt and kombucha.
5. Pump Up Your Intake of Beta Glucan Foods
This includes mushrooms such as shiitake, reishi and maitake, wholegrain (oats and barley) and seaweed. Beta-glucans play an important role in immune defence by protecting the body from viruses and bad bacteria. Mushrooms are delicious in a broth with Japanese noodles, miso, steamed vegetables and tofu or an Asian inspired risotto. Seaweed such as nori is a delicious seasoning for food, whilst kombu is wonderful popped in a big bean stew to help tenderise the beans whilst adding the beneficial components of beta-glucans to the meal.