A change in season comes with various pathogens, contaminated water, differing temperatures – all these and more pose an increased threat to our immune system. This year has an added disadvantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, people with lower immunity levels are more vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Masks and sanitizers are the new normal for everyone irrespective of whether or not they are infected with the virus. The absence of a definitive cure increases our vulnerability to the virus. Optimizing our immune response is the only preventative care step that can defend our bodies against the virus. So, how do we strengthen our immune system, not just against the coronavirus but also against other pathogens?
Swaantana brings you healthy smoothie recipes for immune boosting. Take a look at how you can improve your immune system’s function the tasty way.
Micronutrients That Boost Immunity
Various vitamins and minerals contribute to the optimal performance of the body’s immune functions. A majority of these micronutrients can be easily obtained from a balanced diet composed of fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. Let’s take a quick look at the micronutrients that boost immunity.
Vitamin A: It is a fat-soluble vitamin. It performs important functions such as maintaining a healthy immune system, keeping tissues and skin healthy, and maintaining a healthy reproductive system.
Vitamin B6: This vitamin is vital in supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system. . It means that when the body is under attack by a pathogen, Vitamin B6 sends a signal to the immune system to mount a response to fight the pathogen. Besides this, Vitamin B6 also helps convert the food we eat into energy.
Vitamin C: It helps in defending the immune system against any attacks by supporting various cellular functions. Vitamin C regulates the synthesis of collagen which is extremely important for healthy skin. Vitamin C also helps grow and repair body tissues.
Zinc: It is an important mineral that helps build body proteins. It plays a crucial role in the body’s defense by fighting off any foreign invasion like bacteria or viruses.
Now, let’s take a look at the best foods for immune system.
What Are Immunity Boosting Fruits & Vegetables?
Fruits and vegetables contribute to a large volume of the Recommended Daily Allowance of micronutrients that are required by our bodies. A combination of these fruits and vegetables helps the body with multiple functions such as:
- Boosting immune functions
- Reducing the risk of heart diseases and stroke
- Aiding a smoother digestive process
- Cleansing blood & improving circulation
- Reducing the risk of certain cancers
There is no single, magical immune system booster food that will give you an instant result. The systematic inclusion of a balanced diet daily will boost body immunity, and also positively affects other functions. Let’s take a look at some of the foods that boost the immune system.
1. Citrus Fruits:
Fruits such as oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruits, etc., are a storehouse of Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. They help the body with multiple functions of repairing damaged cells, helping grow new ones, and also boosting body’s immunity.
A tasty and healthy fruit, kiwi is full of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Potassium, and antioxidants. Regular consumption of kiwi strengthens the immune system, while also aiding digestion, preventing sickness, preventing blood clots, and managing blood pressure.
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a precursor of Vitamin A, which helps the immune system stay strong and also protects the skin. Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and antioxidants are also found in carrots. Besides being known to protect from night blindness, carrots also aid digestive processes and weight loss. They help control blood pressure and fight off bad cholesterol.
Your immune system will not just strengthen from Citrus fruits. Spinach is loaded with Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Iron, and Magnesium. Spinach strengthens bones, eyesight, and the immune system.
Garlic is known to help fight off infections. It contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C, among others. It is also a good source of Calcium, Phosphorus and Zinc. Adding a bit of garlic in the food you cook, definitely enhances the taste while providing you with the necessary micronutrients.
Ginger is one root that can be used in sweets, savory, curries – almost in anything. Ginger is packed with Vitamin B, Magnesium, Phosphorus, and Zinc. It helps reduce inflammation, lowers the risk of heart diseases, helps against sore throat, and even helps reduce severity of digestive issues.
Being the quintessential spice of every Indian kitchen, this yellow spice doesn’t just make our food colorful and flavorful but also helps in preventing heart diseases, certain cancers, and Alzhimer’s. Further, turmeric, due to its anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, also keeps the bones in good shape.
Along with the mighty protein, a storehouse of Calcium, Phosphorus, Vitamin B12, and many other micronutrients, yogurt in itself is a tasty immune system booster. It builds immunity, helps your muscles recover faster after a workout, provides calcium to bones, and also prevents infections in the body. Just be cautious about all the added sugar in store bought flavored yogurts. For greater benefit, make your own at home.
Packed with Proteins, Fiber, Magnesium, Potassium and Vitamin E, almonds should be your go to snacks. Replace your fried snacks with a closed fistful of almonds for improved blood pressure control, optimum sugar levels in the body, and even the addition of healthy cholesterol.
10. Green Tea:
Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, and Folic Acid are some of the most important micronutrients found in green tea. It is full of antioxidants that help flush out free radicals from the body. Green tea also lowers the risk of heart diseases, boosts immune functions, increases fat burning, and reduces bad breath.
There are plenty of ways to add these foods to your diet. One of the simplest and tastiest ways is to have them as smoothies.
Smoothies To Boost Immune System:
Smoothies are simple and tasty. They include a variety of ingredients that can be combined in various creative and adventurous ways to suit the taste buds. Let’s look at five smoothie recipes that are sure to kick in the much-needed immunity.
The Green Smoothie
1 bunch of spinach
A quarter pineapple
1 spoon of lemon juice
1 inch ginger
Wash the spinach thoroughly in lukewarm water. Make sure the spinach leaves do not change their color. Take off the skin of the pineapple and cut the pineapple in a half. Chop one half into blocks. Peel the kiwi. Now add a spoon of lemon juice, chopped pineapples, kiwi, ginger, and the cleaned spinach into a blender and blend until you get the desired texture.
Pro tip: Use a bit of honey in the blend to balance out the flavors.
Carrot With Ginger Zing Smoothie
2 slices of pineapple
1 spoon of lemon juice
A pinch of turmeric
1 inch ginger
Peel both the carrots and banana. Chop them into large, rough pieces. Add the banana, carrots, and pineapple slices into a blender. Then add turmeric and ginger. Blend well and add lemon juice in the end.
Pro tip: A hint of cinnamon powder will add a lovely flavor to your smoothie.
The Winter Smoothie
1 tablespoon oats
1 inch ginger
Wash the strawberries well. Peel the bananas and kiwi. Add all the fruits along with the ginger and oats to a blender. Blend well until you get the desired consistency.
Pro tip: You could add a bit of coconut milk or yoghurt to enhance the flavor of your smoothie and get a better consistency.
The Gold Smoothie
Half a pineapple
1 pinch turmeric
1 spoon honey
½ inch ginger
Peel the pineapple and cut it into rough pieces. Add the pieces to a blender, then add turmeric, ginger, and honey. Blend well to get the desired consistency.
Pro tip: You could also add a bit of honey on top of the smoothie once you have served it.
The Red Fruit Smoothie
1 cup of pomegranate seeds
½ cup milk
A pinch of pepper powder
1 teaspoon of honey
Peel the apple’s skin. Blend the apple with pomegranate seeds and milk. Add honey and pepper powder and blend again. Serve immediately.
Pro tip: You could also use low-fat yoghurt in the dish or milk like almond milk, soy milk etc. A good addition of fruits and vegetables boosts our immune system while keeping our hearts, blood, and minds healthy. You can always consult a nutritionist to know the right amount of nutrient requirements for you and your family. Try out these smoothies and tell us which one was your favorite.