Top 10 Immunity Boosting Foods For COVID
The pandemic has not been pretty, to say the very least. And as helpless as we are to external factors, there are things we can do at home to stay healthy and keep our system running at its peak.
Here, we discuss how to fight coronavirus and how to build immunity to COVID 19 with the right immunity boosting foods for COVID.
Knowing how to boost your immune system for COVID is important - because it requires some extra nutrients and functional foods you may not be eating on a daily basis.
Here is a list of 10 immunity boosting foods for COVID that can help you stay safe and recover if you have contracted the virus.
1. Moringa/Drumstick Leaves
Incorporating greens into your diet is important any time of year - but especially so during COVID. And, you need to switch things up a little and move beyond palak (spinach) and methi (fenugreek leaves) to maintain robust immunity.
Moringa, or the leaves of the drumstick plant, are a great way to give yourself a powerful dose of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Drumstick leaves contain copper, selenium, Vitamin A and Omega-3s, all of which help boost immunity.
Use leaves to make sabzi, curry or juice. You can also make moringa leaves chutney, or have one teaspoon of moringa powder with a glass of water as soon as you wake up.
2. Curry Leaves
Curry leaves are a quintessential part of Indian cuisine. They impart flavour and colour and can really make any dish pop! Usually consumed in the form of a tadka in dal, chutneys and other dishes, curry leaves have immense immune-boosting properties. They are a good source of copper, Vitamin A and Omega-3s.
Copper and Vitamin A help improve immune function, while Omega-3 Fatty Acids help slow down and tackle inflammation. Curry leaves also bolster the functioning of neutrophils, our body’s responders to infection.
One of the best ways to have curry leaves is to chew a few raw leaves first thing in the morning on en empty stomach.
As we all know, citrus fruits contain a high amount of Vitamin C, which helps fight cold and infection. It acts as a powerful antioxidant and protects against damage induced by oxidative stress.
Amla or Indian Gooseberry is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C. Many recovering COVID-19 patients are given Vitamin C through the IV or intravenous therapy route. So it’s important to have plenty of Vitamin C-rich foods in your diet to keep your energy and immunity levels up.
You can have amla as-is, or take an amla shot: 30 ml of amla juice, freshly prepared, each morning.
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4. Ancient Grains (Amaranth Or Rajgira)
Ancient grains like amaranth are a great source of protein and fibre, and a great substitute for refined flours. It also happens to be gluten-free, making it an ideal replacement for people with gluten intolerance. But it also happens to be a great source of zinc - which is a protective mineral.
Zinc works as an anti-oxidant and helps stabilise membranes, suggesting it plays a key role in the prevention of free radical-induced injury during inflammatory processes.
5. Millets (Pearl Millet Or Bajra)
Bajra also contains a good amount of zinc. This important mineral has an anti-inflammatory effect and directly impacts anti-viral activity and low levels of zinc in the body can directly impact immune response.
Bajra can be consumed many forms, like rotis, chichi and even pakodas. But it needs to be combined with the right foods to gain the benefits, as it is a heat-inducing food. So, have bajra rotis with curd, or add ghee into the dough. In summer, always combine bajra with cold /cooling foods.
Curd is a staple in the Indian kitchen. Apart from being a good source of protein and vegetarian calcium, it is a natural probiotic that helps in the formation of good bacteria in the gut and helps maintain better immunity.
And it is also one of the easiest foods to add - you can have it as raita, kadhi, curd rice, lassi, smoothies, smoothie bowls, in porridge etc. There is research to prove that that people who consume probiotics on a daily basis have a lower chance of getting colds and flus compared to those who don’t.
7. Seeds (Sunflower, Sesame)
Seeds like sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are also rich in zinc, the protective and preventive mineral. Sesame contains calcium and zinc. They are best had soaked overnight, or roasted as a snack, because they are heat-inducing. Have not more than 2 tsp a day.
Sunflower seeds are the fruit of the sunflower plant and contain almost a dozen essential vitamins and minerals - including zinc. The best way to consume sunflower seeds is to combine it with fruit or coconut water.
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8. Tulsi Or Holy Basil
Tulsi leaves, star anise, garlic, and ginger are some natural anti-virus food items which give protection from seasonal flu. Tulsi is rich in Vitamin C and zinc.
It thus acts as a natural immunity booster with immense anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties which protect us from a variety of infections.
For boosting immunity and flushing out toxins, you can make a tulsi tonic which can simply be made by boiling three to four leaves in water, straining and drinking.
9. Turmeric Milk
Haldi is the ultimate immunity booster - rich in curcumin and theramcumin which have immune-boosting properties. It helps build immunity and gives relief from cough, cold and sore throats. In order to get the benefits of turmeric, it needs to be combined with black pepper and some form of fat, such as milk. Turmeric milk is one of the tastiest and easiest ways to boost immunity.
Whisk together 1 cup milk, 1 inch long piece of turmeric and 3 whole peppercorns with 50 ml water in a saucepan. Bring it to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 mins, then strain and serve! Cow’s milk can be replaced with coconut or almond milk, if needed.
10. Ashwagandha Milk
Also known as Indian ginseng, ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic adaptogen that has been used since ancient times and has several nourishing and healing properties. It helps the body fright stress and anxiety, and is known to boost overall immunity and strength.
The active components in ashwagandha, glutathione and withanolides are strong antioxidants that are particularly beneficial in reducing inflammation in the lungs.
One of the best ways to have ashwagandha is with our Moon Mylk recipe, that combines the root with cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, ginger, pepper and honey for even better immune-boosting properties. You can find the Moon Mylk recipe here and it can be made using coconut milk or cow’s milk.
Now that you have a clear idea of the best immunity boosting foods for COVID, you can start incorporating more of them into your diet. If you’d like to learn more about how to boost immunity from home, you can sign up for our FREE 5-Day Immunity Challenge - a series of emails with tips and tricks on how to improve your immunity with tonics and foods.
If you are looking to get healthy after pandemic weight gain - you may want to take a look at our FREE 10-Day Detox Program - a simple solution to reset your body and restore vitality. Both these programs contain immunity boosting foods for COVID, so they’re well worth checking out.
If you have any more questions or queries related to health, immunity and COVID, you can follow us on Instagram @lovneetb, where we post daily tips and pointers.
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What are the best foods to eat during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Some of the best immunity boosting foods for COVID include local, seasonal and fresh foods that are prepared using healthy fats. Spices to include for better immunity include turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger and cardamom.
You should also include plenty of citrus fruits in your daily diet to boost Vitamin C in the body. Being a water soluble vitamin, it cannot be made by the body, so we must consume it from outside sources. Fruits like oranges, lemons, musambi, grapefruit, kiwi, amla and guava are good sources of Vitamin C. Vitamin C benefits cellular function and protects the body against oxidative stress, thereby playing a key role in immune-modulation.
You should also get enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids. They control inflammation in the body, balance immune cells and support the detection and destruction of bacteria. The best sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids include chia seeds, walnuts, flax seeds, fatty fish like salmon and mackarel, etc.
Vitamin A is also important to maintain a healthy immune system. A natural infection fighter and protective vitamin, it can be found in both animal and plant-based foods, from meat and dairy to plant carotenoids. You can include vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and dark green leafy vegetables, they are among the best immunity boosting foods for COVID.
Vitamin E is also important - it’s not just meant for great skin. It is a powerful antioxidant, that helps protect your cells from damage. Get your daily dose from a fistful of nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
Selenium is also important for better immunity. Selenium is a nutrient that has powerful effects on the immune system, helping prevent infections. It is a strong antioxidant that influences inflammation and immune response. Selenium can be found in animal products like like tuna, meat, liver and cottage cheese. Vegetarian options include like radish leaves and drumstick (moringa) leaves.
What are foods to avoid during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Since we are in a pandemic, it’s important to consume immunity boosting foods for COVID, no doubt. But there are also certain foods you should avoid if you want to stay healthy and avoid wrecking your immune system.
It’s best to eat, fresh, local and seasonal foods, lowering or completely getting rid of packaged and processed food altogether. Excess salt and sugar should be avoided, since these are both inflammatory foods that can send your body into fight mode. Saturated fats are also a no-no, since they cause inflammation of the fatty tissues. It is also advisable to avoid spicy foods. Spicy food items often irritate the throat and make you cough more. Avoid red chilli powder, and replace it with black pepper which has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Fried foods are also better kept off your plate as they can contribute to poor digestion.
What are some ways to maintain a healthy diet during the COVID-19 pandemic?
You can maintain healthy diet during the COVID-10 pandemic with immunity boosting foods for COVID.
Eat a healthy diet filled with nutrient-dense foods as listed above. Include foods that are anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants, Omega-3s, fibre and Vitamin C. Hydration is also an important part of the recovery process. Aim to drink at least 3-4 litres of water each day. Include hydrating natural drinks like coconut water and green juices, kadhas like fennel tea and even warming drinks like turmeric milk.
You can maintain a healthy diet by starting your day with a simple immunity ritual, like chewing on a clove of garlic or eating a few raw curry leaves on an empty stomach, or taking an amla shot. Engage in other practices like deep breathing and oil pulling. Oil pulling helps maintain oral hygiene and helps get rid of toxins in the body when done in the morning. Use cold-pressed coconut or sesame oil.
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