When people hear ‘immunity’, they think ‘protection’. They are probably right, but that’s not all there is to the word ‘immunity’. Immunity is a balanced mechanism operating in human beings to fight infections, diseases, or other unwanted biological invasions, while having adequate tolerance against previously encountered contagions.
Immunity is also the body’s ability to resist pathogens and other harmful microorganisms. One great thing about immunity is its outstanding memory. It can recall previously encountered infections and provide helper cells and chemicals to deal with them adequately.
In recent times, the world has been shaken by a pathogen, coronavirus aka COVID-19. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has labelled it a pandemic.
To stop the spread and offer protection against this pandemic, people are advised to wash their hands regularly, maintain good personal hygiene, and maintain social distancing. But it is equally important to eat well to improve the immune system. To boost your immunity, here are 10 healthy foods that you consider today.
#1: PROTEINS (All Proteins): To have a strong immune system your body needs a daily supply of quality protein. Research studies have shown that intake of high-quality protein can result in the restoration of immune cells, and boost the ability of the body to make antibodies. Milk, fish, lean meats, nuts, soy, etc. are all excellent sources of protein, capable of repairing worn-out cells, organs and tissues.
#2: VEGETABLES (Carrots): The carrot is a superb root vegetable, rich in vitamin B complex for energy metabolism, vitamins D, E, C, K, fibre, potassium, iron, manganese, copper, iodine, silica, chromium and many more! Carrots also contain vitamin A precursors called carotenoids (beta carotenes) that help promote vision and support a healthy immune system.
#3: VEGETABLES (Spinach): This nutrient-dense green super food is great for enhancing immune cells. Spinach is an energy packed low calorie food that provides Vitamin A, K, and essential folate. It is regarded one of the healthiest foods on the planet.
#4: HERBS and SPICES (Turmeric): Turmeric, from turmeric root, is a bright yellow-orange spice commonly used in curries and sauces. The spice has been used for its medicinal, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties for thousands of years. Turmeric tea is one popular form of consuming turmeric, but it is an absolute delight when used to season soups and stews. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. It is responsible for the distinct yellow colouring and the impressive list of health properties. Curcumin, with its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, detoxifying potential, is remarkable for digestive health.
#5: HERBS and SPICES (Garlic): Garlic is also an immune system warrior, protecting the body from infections and illness. Garlic contains allicin, a potent phytonutrient that is great for cardiac health. It has been shown to help lower blood pressure, inhibit blood clotting and promote healthy cholesterol levels.
#6: HERBS and SPICES (Ginger): This friendly spice stimulates digestion, and bowel function while helping to relieve bloating, cramping and nausea. Ginger has potent antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It helps to boost immune function and combat cellular damage.
#7: FRUITS (Citrus): Citrus such as oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, lemons and limes are an excellent source of vitamin C which helps maintain the body’s defenses against bacterial infections. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant utilised throughout the body. It is involved in tissue growth, adrenal gland function, immune system support, iron absorption and stomach acid activation. Increased vitamin C intake increases immune system support.
#8: FRUITS (Berries): Berries are nutritional powerhouses that contain decent amounts of folate (vitamin B9) vitamin C, manganese and potassium. Another delightful thing about berries is that it has a lot of varieties. Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, elderberries, you name it, they are all healthy.
#9: FRUITS (Paw-paw or Papaya): This golden fruit is so nutritionally rich that it is known as the medicine tree in Africa and the Caribbeans. The enzyme papain is extracted from papaya and is beneficial for those with digestive problems. According to Wikipedia “Papaya is a rich source of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body and promotes healthy eyes, skin and tissues.”
#10: NUTS and SEEDS (Walnuts): With more antioxidants than any other nut, walnuts are also brimming with Vitamin E, plant serums, omega 3 oils, and healthy fats.
Undoubtedly, it is essential to eat the right meals to improve your immunity. Yes, eating the right food can help make you healthy. It can also make you happier. Do not wait to start.
Reginald Onabu, Researcher and Public Relations Officer, Writes from Lagos.