Health & Nutrition
October 20, 2020
• Updated on
3 Jun

A Complete Guide to have a Strong Immune System

As COVID -19 pandemic hit the world, more and more people around the world started looking for ways to build a strong immune system. One of the reasons behind it is the number of patients recovering from Covid-19. This could mean that our immune system has the ability to successfully fight this virus.

The scientists in Australia even claimed that they have identified how the body’s immune system fights COVID-19, determining which immune cells can help with vaccine development. Hence strong immune system became the top health goal for millions around the world. From garlic to ginger, people are lapping up all kinds of information on bolstering immunity — the body’s natural defense system. But can immunity be built overnight?

The immune system is basically a complex network of cells, organs, and tissue that work in tandem to protect the body from a pathogen such as bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that cause disease. It is the system that helps your body resist, fight, and conquer the disease. However, it doesn’t have the power to stop a disease from attacking the body.

A strong immune system certainly doesn’t work as a ‘bulletproof’ protective gear against coronavirus or any kind of illness for that matter. While immunity can’t be built in one day, you can definitely boost it with a healthy diet and lifestyle. On average, a few weeks are required to build up immunity. There are immune-boosting foods that can give your immune system the best possible chance of functioning at its optimum level.

Strong Immune system

Nutrients for Strong Immune System

Vitamin E: A strong and powerful anti-oxidant, Vitamin E helps protect your cells from damage. It fights with an infection and builds immunity. You can meet your daily requirements of Vitamin E with a fistful of nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Vitamin C: It is a water-soluble vitamin, which is easily found in foods such as amla, lemon, bell peppers, and oranges, etc. it is well known for being a potent antioxidant and having positive effects on immune function. Since it is water-soluble, which means the body does not store it, it is important to maintain adequate levels of Vitamin C with a daily intake of food that contains it. Try to include five to six servings of fruits and vegetables in a day.

Zinc: You can call it your immune system’s BFF s it helps the immune system fight infection efficiently. Even mild zinc deficiency, which is more common in contrast to severe zinc deficiency, depresses the immunity of humans.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sunlight and is often lauded for its health benefits. Researchers have also found that it affects key cells of the immune system. It modulates the immune response in a way that it doesn’t harm your body but at the same time attacks the virus as well. As the Vitamin D receptor is expressed on immune cells (B cells, T cells, and antigen-presenting), it can modulate innate and adaptive immune responses. Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity and increased susceptibility to infection.

Strong Immune system

Foods for Strong Immune System

Citrus Fruits: It is a fact well known that citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C, which helps build a strong immune system. As your body doesn’t produce or store it, you need to replenish the vitamin C store on a daily basis.

Broccoli: Packed with minerals, fiber, and vitamins A, C and E broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your plate to build a strong immune system.

Garlic: A heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds such as allicin makes garlic one of the best foods for strong immunity. Garlic also has the ability to fight bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Curd: This probiotic superfood may help stimulate the immune system to help fight diseases.

Nuts & seeds: Nuts and seeds such as almonds, pistachio, and pumpkin, chia, and sunflower seeds are packed with vitamins and healthy fats, which make them a perfect snack for strong immunity.

Bell peppers: Did you know that bell peppers also a vitamin C-rich food? These colourful delights are also a rich source of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A and helps keep your eyes and skin healthy as well as build strong immunity.

Spinach: This green beauty is the best food for a strong immune system. What makes it an immunity-boosting superfood? It’s folate, which helps your body make new cells and repair DNA. It is also packed with fiber, antioxidants such as vitamin C, etc.

Carrots & Sweet Potatoes: The beta-carotene in these two foods for strong immunity is turned into vitamin A by the body. Vitamin A helps mop up damaging free radicals, which further help build a strong immune system.

Whole grains and legumes: Food for strong immunity also means food that gives you a healthy gut. Also called the ‘second brain’, the gut is a major center of immune activity. These foods also contain B vitamins and zinc for added immune support.

Turmeric: It is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties too. Its most active compound is the yellow-orange component called Curcumin, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and for modulating the immune system.

Always add black pepper to it for better absorption of turmeric. You can replace your caffeine-based hot beverage with Turmeric Tea. Take a cup of water, add an inch of raw turmeric, and let it boil for a few minutes. Add a pinch of black pepper, a teaspoon of coconut sugar, and have it hot.

Herbs (Ashwagandha and Milk Thistle): These herbs contain compounds, which help boost the body’s defense against diseases by improving cell-mediated immunity. Ashwagandha helps in fighting inflammation by building resilience for stress, both mental and physical.

However, pregnant ladies, lactating mothers, and children should strictly avoid these herbs. These should be taken after consulting a nutritionist or your doctor.

Strong Immune system

What are the benefits of strong immunity?

Every day, we are always exposed to potentially dangerous microbes of all kinds. A complex network of cells, organs, and tissues, the immune system protects the body from pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing microorganisms. There are intricate stages and pathways of the immune system in the body that protect us against various harmful microbes as well as certain diseases. It is programmed to recognize foreign invaders and take immediate action.

How does nutrition affect the immune system?

Did you know that downing a couple of sugary drinks could suppress the immune system for at least a few hours? While there is no single food that can promise a strong immune system, a nutrient-rich diet that is low in sugar and processed foods can help the immune system work better and more efficiently.

Studies have shown that diets that are lack variety and have lower nutrient value can negatively affect a healthy immune system. These are diets high in refined sugar and red meat, and low in fruits and vegetables can promote disruptions in healthy intestinal microorganisms, resulting in chronic inflammation of the gut along with suppressed immunity.

The relationship between the gut microbiome and the immune system is an area of research for scientists. It is believed that the microbiome plays a key role in immune function. A healthy diet plays a crucial role in determining what kinds of microbes get to stay and thrive in our intestine. A plant-based diet rich in fiber with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are believed to promote the growth and maintenance of healthy microbes.

Furthermore, the microbes break down fibers into short-chain fatty acids, which have been shown to stimulate immune cell activity. These fibers are also called prebiotics because they feed microbes. That’s why a diet containing prebiotic and probiotic foods may be beneficial.

For a strong immune system, opt for a diet that is rich in nutrients such as Vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc. One way to do it is to fill your plate with a wide variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, Stay away from fad diets or yo-yo diet trends as these diets seriously lack essential nutrients and may put your immune system at disadvantage.

strong immunity
Sleep deprivation can suppress your immune system.

How to make the immune system strong?

As we said, strong immunity cannot be built in a day. It requires consistency in terms of the right diet and exercise. What really counts is how much you invest in your immunity on an everyday basis.

A healthy lifestyle is the biggest boost for a strong immune system. You need to follow a few healthy lifestyle rules in order to keep your immune system in top shape. Here are some:

Get enough sleep

Sleep and immunity are joined at the hips. Ensuring 7–8 hours of sleep helps strengthen immunity naturally. Sleep is important, as it is the time when your body gets to rest as well as repair.

Keep your gut healthy

Fermented foods and probiotics such as khimchi, pickle, curd, etc., help build a strong immune system by keeping the gut microbiota diverse and healthy.

Cut added sugar

Excessive intake of sugar is one of the leading causes of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart diseases, which can suppress the immune system. In addition, lowering sugar intake may also help decrease inflammation in the body.

Physical activity

Staying active or exercising regularly can help reduce inflammation and promote healthy turnover of immune cells. Simple activities such as walking, swimming, cycling, skipping rope, and jogging are great options.

Wash your hands

Yes, washing hands is your secret superpower. Besides before and after taking meals, maintain hand hygiene all the time. Even after coughing or sneezing.

Limit stress

We cannot control stress but we can always control how we react to stress. You can lower stress levels through yoga, exercise, deep breathing, and other activities that can help the immune system functioning properly.

strong immunity

How to make the immune system strong during pregnancy?

Follow the healthy lifestyle habits stated above. Pregnant need to take utmost care of their diets, which should be nutrient-rich. A healthy gut can help with common pregnancy problems such as acidity, heartburn, and gas. Avoid outside food, which can compromise the immune system and put your overall health at risk.

strong immunity

What are the Foods that weaken the Immune System?

· Avoid fried foods as these promote inflammation, which can inhibit the overall immune response.

· Avoid processed foods including refined grains, junk food, and sugar. Nutrient deficient, processed foods prevent optimum immune function.

· Avoid a meat-rich diet. Meat may be a source of food-borne pathogens including viruses, harmful antibiotics, and toxic chemicals, which can interfere with the immune system. Several studies have shown that many animal products increase inflammation.

signs of a strong immune system

What are the signs of a strong immune system?

Falling sick does not mean that you have a weak immune system. It is perfectly normal to get cold and flu. It is in fact a normal workout for your immune system to check its health and efficacy as a defense system.

Every time your immune system fights off an infection or virus attack on its own without any external interference or suppression, your immune system gets better at defending your body. It produces more antibodies specific to that infection and the defense arsenal of a strong immune system gets bigger and more effective. As a result, we are able to fight off infection quickly and more robustly.

Sometimes, you may experience a bit of sniffle or a tickle in your throat, which does not turn into a full-blown cold and/or fever. This is typically a sign of a strong immune system attacking the virus before it becomes more problematic.


Help your immune system become stronger with Immunity Building Program from Nutrition by Lovneet Batra

FAQs:

What is the immune system?

The immune system is basically a complex network of cells, organs, and tissue that work in tandem to protect the body from a pathogen such as bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that cause disease. It is the system that helps your body resist, fight, and conquer the disease. However, it doesn’t have the power to stop a disease from attacking the body.

What nutrients help power the immune system?

Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and zinc are some essential nutrients that keep our immune system strong. Vitamin E protects cells from damage. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that has positive effects on immune function. Vitamin D also has effects on the immune system, modulating immune response and attacking viruses. And zinc fights infection. 

What foods help boost immunity?

Citrus fruits like oranges, musambi, limes etc; garlic, broccoli, curd, nuts and seeds, spinach, bell peppers, carrots and sweet potatoes, whole grains and legumes, turmeric and herbs like ashwagandha and milk thistle are good immunity boosters. 

Why do we need a strong immune system?

Every day, we are exposed to potentially dangerous microbes of all kinds. A complex network of cells, organs, and tissues that make up the immune system protects the body from pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing microorganisms. The immune system is programmed to recognise foreign invaders and take immediate action.

What are some other ways to make the immune system strong?

For a better immune system, get enough sleep, eat gut-healthy foods like probiotics, curd, kimchi etc, cut out excess sugars, indulge in enough physical activity/exercise, and wash your hands frequently. 


Lovneet Batra
Founder
Lovneet Batra is a clinical nutritionist with over a decade of experience treating patients and educating people on the benefits of a healthy diet. One of Delhi’s most sought-after nutritionists...
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