Food for Immunity !

Whenever a new foreign object such as bacteria invades the human body, it defends by attacking the new object. This defence system is a network of cells, tissues and is generally called as immune system. This system acts as a barrier between our body and the things that can make us sick. The defence system is made up of two main steps. First, mucous membranes present in nose, eyes, and mouth which use white blood cells to fight infections before they can get inside body. Secondly, the white blood cells (specifically called T cells and B cells) produce antibodies to fight the invaders and then destroy the infected cells throughout body. Our immune system needs to function optimally to keep diseases at bay and this demands nutritious and immunity supporting foods.  

Food rich in carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals are essential to human beings. Carbohydrates, proteins and fat are called as macronutrients. Carbohydrates provides energy to the body. Proteins are building blocks for antibodies, cells, muscles and repair the wear and tear in the body. Fat has multiple roles in the body. It stores energy, protects our vital organs and is essential to maintain blood cholesterol and heart beat levels. Here are the common source of carbohydrates, proteins and fat.

Carbohydrates: Rice, wheat (roti, bread), milk, potatoes, beetroots, banana, apple, mango

Proteins: Pulses (beans, lentils, tur dal, rajma), nuts (almond, peanuts), egg and meat

Fat: Oil (sunflower, coconut oil), ghee, butter, peanut, beans, dark chocolates

Vitamins and minerals are called as micronutrients. These are necessary for metabolism and immunity system but the human body doesn’t produce vitamins and minerals, hence eating food rich in micronutrients is extremely important. Vitamin A and C act as antioxidants, meaning it neutralizes free radicalsthat can damage cells and tissues. Also, vitamin C helps direct white blood cells to the site of infection. Vitamin B complex and E also support the immune system. Minerals such as potassium, magnesium, zinc, selenium aid in cellular metabolism. Many of these vitamins and minerals have role as antioxidants or anti-inflammatory chemicals that protect the cells from radical damages and strengthen immune system. Hence consumption of adequate amount of micronutrients is critical to sustain a healthy body.

Here are a list of food rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The more fruits and vegetables we eat, the better off we are. And we need specific nutrients for optimal immunity. It is hard to measure and eat micronutrients, therefore we broadly recommend everyday consumption of at least 2-3 foods from the list below. 

Vitamins: Fruits (lemon, oranges, watermelon, mango, papaya, apple, strawberry), vegetables (spinach, carrots, garlic, ginger, sweet potato, mushrooms, broccoli, bell peppers), eggs 

Minerals: Fruits (watermelon, banana, apple, oranges, avocado, grapes), nuts (almonds, cashewnuts), vegetables (sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli), legumes, seeds, eggs and whole grains (Wheat germ, oats), milk,  yogurt

Anti-inflammatory: Onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chicken soup

Antioxidants: Fruits (apple, strawberry, lemon, oranges, kiwi), dark chocolates, Green tea, shell fish (crab, clams) 

Eating both macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are essential for optimal functioning of a healthy human life. Immunity typically declines as age, it becomes especially important to eat more nutritious and immune-supporting foods as the body gets older. The human body and the immune system needs to be nurtured and cared for as it’s the only thing we live with for our entire life.

-Manisha and Smitha from Veri-Pure labs

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