While there are no vaccines and medicines yet available for preventing Covid-19, the government of India, guided by the ministry of Ayush, strongly emphasizes on building immunity to counter Corona viruses and other viral infections, especially during lockdown and post-lockdown periods.
Along with all precautionary measures such as social distancing and proper hygiene, there is one more aspect which is equally important but ignored, and that is, constantly strengthening the body’s immune system by eating the right foods in sufficient quantity which are easily available in the Indian kitchen.
Here is a list of natural foods which will immensely help in keeping unwanted infections away from you.
Cinnamon having anti-viral properties is also a rich source of antioxidant called polyphenols that protects the body from infections and diseases. Apart from boosting the immune system, it significantly helps in reducing inflammations in the body.
Recommendations: Per day, 2-3 grams of cinnamon powder for adults & 1 gram for children.
The famous turmeric also known as “haldi” is a natural gift widely used in the Indian kitchens which contains the magical compound curcumin which has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Hence, it has the potential to enhance the immune system, heal wounds, prevent respiratory tract problems, and treat heart diseases and skin disorders while helping in cancer prevention.
The ideal quantity of turmeric per day is 1000-1500 milligrams, however, you are recommended not to exceed 2000 mg per day.
Black pepper -
Piperine is the active ingredient in black pepper which promotes active immune response. It is anti-inflammatory and contains powerful antioxidants which help to improve digestion and lower the cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
The quantity has to be regulated. It is recommended not to have more than 1-2 teaspoons of black pepper per day.
Probiotics promote the healthy balance of gut-friendly bacteria or microbes which are also called as good bacteria. They help to build up the body’s immune system. Probiotics are abundantly found in yogurt, kefir (fermented milk drink), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), tempeh (fermented soybean products) and traditional buttermilk.
You can have them in your diet on a regular basis. If natural probiotics are not available, you can choose to have probiotic supplements.
Ginger contains anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties which help to enhance immune response and also helps to reduce cold, cough, flu, sore throat, joint inflammation and pains. It is mostly used in most of the Indian recipes, tea, beverages, vegetables, sauces, etc.
Normal adults can consume 2-4 grams of ginger daily for best results.
Garlic contains a sulfur compound known as “allicin” as the main active ingredient which promotes immune-boosting properties. Try to use 5-6 cloves (crushed or sliced) per day to maximize the immune boosting benefits of garlic.
Green and Herbal Teas -
Regular milk tea is one of the popular morning beverages in India but this beverage is often taken with sugar and is found to be highly caffeinated. Due to these properties, there are some evident side effects rather than good effects when consumed in excess during infectious season.
Therefore, to derive good effects, morning beverages should be replaced with green and herbal teas as the best alternative to the normal milk tea. Green teas are well known for their antioxidants, essential minerals and immunity boosting properties. Additionally, mixing cloves, lemon, ginger, and cardamom and sipping the warm concoction helps in relieving chronic coughs and throat problems too.
Herbal teas -
Similarly, Tulasi tea, turmeric tea, chamomile tea, peppermint tea, and hibiscus tea have scientifically proven to provide numerous long-term health benefits, strong immunity being one of them. However, daily intake of herbal tea should not be exceeding 4-5 cups for normal adults.
Powerful Vitamins (Vitamin A, C, D) -
Vitamin A has a role to play in the development of immune system by regulating the cellular immune responses. Some examples of foods rich in vitamin A are carrot, pumpkins, egg, fish, sweet potato, broccoli and spinach.
Vitamin C - Vitamin C helps to build a stronger immune system and increases the production of white blood cells (WBC) which plays a key role in fighting infection. Our body is unable to store vitamin C, so getting it daily in optimum amounts is very necessary during disease outbreaks. Vitamin C hugely helps to reduce some symptoms like vomiting, nausea and diarrhea along with reducing the symptoms of respiratory tract infections.
Foods which are loaded with vitamin C include lemon, orange, guava, papaya, amla, kiwi, pineapple, capsicum and bell pepper.
Vitamin D is also one of the important vitamins which play a major role in providing powerful strengthening to the immune system. However, we have minimal food options rich in this vitamin that include dairy foods, cheese, egg yolk, and fatty fish. The richest source is the sun and embracing morning sun rays for at least 30-45 minutes is the best and cheapest source of vitamin D.
While we all are making efforts in flattening the curve, we should also jointly make efforts in building and strengthening our body’s defense mechanism. A healthy nation is only built with healthy citizens. Hence, during lockdown and most importantly post lockdown, make sure to daily take natural anti-virals to keep COVID-19 & all other infections at bay!