POST TIME: 31 January, 2022 12:52:19 AM
Food that strengthens immunity during winter
Most people turn to vitamin C after they have caught a cold because it helps build up their immune system. It increases the production of white blood cells. Your body does not produce or store vitamin C, so you need daily vitamin C for strong immunity.
Fahmida Hashem

Food that strengthens immunity during winter

The winter season is in its full swing and at the same time, the new variant of Coronavirus (Omicron) has brought back the fear too. Cases of respiratory viral infections, such as influenza, tend to spike during fall and winter. Having a healthy and responsive immune system is your best bet against potentially serious viral infections, like the flu and COVID-19.      

There are many foods specifically available and enjoyed during winters that can help battle the cold months during Covid-19. They help you keep warm and provide nutrients that are most necessary for the body's immunity during this season. Let's see which foods are good for our immunity to fight Omicron. 

Most people turn to vitamin C after they have caught a cold because it helps build up their immune system. It increases the production of white blood cells. Your body does not produce or store vitamin C, so you need daily vitamin C for strong immunity.     

Orange is rich in vitamin C and calcium which help in improving our immune system. Papaya contains high amounts of vitamin C. It also has papain, an anti-inflammatory enzyme that can boost your immunity. Guava is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. Along with increasing immunity, it maintains digestion and blood sugar level which in turn enhances our immunity. Amlaki is a seasonal winter food that is packed with immunity-boosting vitamin C and keeps disease and illnesses away. You can consume it in the form of murabba, pickle, juice, chutney, or even powder to get the best nutrients. 

Pomegranate is an excellent blood thinner. It helps in maintaining the flow of blood in the lungs, heart and improves our immunity.  Plum is a winter fruit that contains vitamin C which helps your body heal build muscle and maintain a good immune system. Grapes are rich in resveratrol, antioxidants, and polyphenols that play a role in equipping cells to fight against infections. 

Our bodies need adequate vitamin D to produce the antimicrobial proteins that kill viruses and bacteria. These proteins are particularly active in the respiratory tract. Vitamin D can be found in an egg, dairy food, mushroom, fatty fish such as salmon, and foods fortified with vitamin D.  Omega 3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation in the body. The lining of the cells is protected by this fatty acid, so when there is a viral attack the body is prepared. Have walnuts and oily sea fish, flaxseeds, black seeds, avocado which contain omega 3.    

Green Tea contains high levels of antioxidants, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which boosts the immune system. As per Ayurveda, ghee is one of the most easily digestible fats that is capable of generating instant heat and energy to keep you warm in winter and also boosts the immune system. You can use it in rice, dal, or roti to get the best flavour and benefits. Low-fat yogurt is a perfect food for the immune system as it contains active cultures of probiotics that stimulate the immune response to fight infections. Mushrooms support the immune system using their antiviral properties and proteins that help repair damaged cells and tissues.

As a rich source of iron, jaggery and dates aid in binding oxygen to RBCs. According to the ministry of AYUSH, regular consumption of jaggery and dates in the form of karma is good for boosting the immune system, and also helps in fighting illnesses like flu and common cold as a higher body temperature is less conducive for microbial growth.   

Ginger is an ingredient that may help decrease inflammation, reduce a sore throat, and plays a powerful role as an antioxidant. Cloves help to fight cold and flu. Turmeric and cinnamon have strong anti-inflammatory properties and can be added to warm water, coffee and desserts. Garlic is a popular remedy for colds, it has a strong anti-inflammatory effect.      

Broccoli is supercharged with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber which can fight diseases. Spinach is also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Colourful capsicums are rich in vitamins A and C, and beta carotene antioxidants that are great immunity builders. Medium-sized capsicum has twice the amount of vitamin C found in an orange. Pumpkin is an immune system booster food containing high amounts of beta carotene antioxidants, which turn into vitamin A in your body. It also has vitamin C, an essential nutrient in enhancing your immunity. 

According to the American Society for Microbiologysweet potatoes increase high levels of vitamin A in the blood can help enhance immune responses. Carrot is a crunchy power food that contains immune antioxidants like vitamin A, C, E & B complex. Cabbage and cauliflower have plenty of other nutrients including vitamin C, folate, dietary fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids with immune response. 

Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. Lettuce provides calcium, potassium, vitamin C, and folate is helpful for immunity. Mustard leaves or ‘sorsashak’ provide an excellent source of immune-boosting minerals and vitamins. Beetroot is a vibrant and colorful veggie, increases WBCs, boosts our immune system, and fight inflammation.  

Almonds, walnuts, and peanuts are rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), these nutrients help to improve immunity. Sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin E, which plays a role in strengthening your immunity.

Foods of the winter season not only taste better but may contain ingredients that suit the body's needs for that time of the year. So, change your diet with these winter veggies for these months and enjoy these winter vegetables.

Prevention is better than cure. If you boost and strengthen your immune system, you will be able to prevent sickness naturally. Your immune system does a marvelous job of fighting off germs and disease. Also, you should practice good hygiene.

The writer is Sr. Nutritionist, Labaid Cardiac Hospital, Email: fahmidahashem@labaidgroup.com