Turn your Immunity Into your Superpower! Foods for Immunity
The year 2020 will be remembered for a lot of firsts for many of us- our first pandemic, the first time we have had to face travel and movement restrictions, our first work from home experience, the first time our kids are attending online classes, you get the drift. It has also been the first time we all have tried to understand and educate ourselves in some way or the other about IMMUNITY. Call it our survival instinct, but we are all finally beginning to understand the importance of building and boosting our immunity for our good health and wellbeing.
In addition to the current global health scare, we in the UAE will soon face fluctuating weather, sandstorms etc. before the onset of winter. We all know this brings with it ailments like flu, respiratory allergies/infections etc. These mainly affect those who are prone to seasonal illnesses which in most cases is attributed to a weaker immune system.
What is immunity and how does it work?
Immunity is the capability of our body to fight or resist harmful microorganisms by the action of specific antibodies. It protects our body from outside invaders like bacteria, viruses, toxins, funguses etc. It is the teamwork of different organs, cells, and proteins which create the immune cells in our body. These cells roam around in our body looking for and destroying any threat or other dangerous trespassers.
How can one improve immunity?
Just like a car needs the right kind of fuel and regular maintenance in order to function optimally, our bodies too have to be given the right nutrition and care consistently to ensure it is equipped with the weapons to fight off infections and unwanted guests. We at Trance Yoga believe in a holistic approach to nurture a better you. When we say holistic, we mean the little things you can do every day that add up to a well-rounded lifestyle improvement to boost your immunity by:
- Incorporating foods that boost immunity in your daily diet.
- Practising Yoga asanas on a daily basis.
This is a two-part series and we are covering the foods for immunity in this part. Click to read about Yoga for immunity.
Foods for Immunity
Now we all know the importance of eating healthy, eating lots of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats to get our dose of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
However, there are some foods which are deeply rooted in ancient wisdom that work like magic when it comes to improving immunity. Our founder Mr Gokul Ram had the privilege of growing up in the Indian state of Kerala, also known as God’s own country, surrounded by his loving grandparents who not only inculcated in him a sense of curiosity to explore the ancient holistic ways of living and healing but also passed on the wisdom of these potent magical ingredients which have to be consumed at a certain time and in a certain way to enhance immunity. Some of these are:
- Turmeric– Long before the world woke up to turmeric lattes and curcumin supplements were a thing, Indian mothers and grandmothers have been generously using turmeric in their cooking and sneaking in a teaspoon into the milk of children before bedtime. One of the most powerful foods of high medicinal value, it has anti-biotic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties which effectively destroy both bacterial and viral attacks. Used in its raw form, turmeric is a highly effective immunity-boosting food.
- Ginger– In addition to making our curries aromatic, ginger has long been considered a treatment for cold, cough etc. in many parts of the world. It is also known for improving digestion. Ginger has a compound known as Gingerol which is rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that support the immune system.
- Black pepper– Did you know pepper isn’t just a condiment to season your food with? When consumed, it warms the body up which stimulates the sweat glands and helps flush out toxins from the body. It is one the best home remedies for fever and cough and also supports the immune cells by helping organs eliminate toxins more efficiently. Fun fact- adding a pinch of pepper to anything containing turmeric, will help better assimilate the nutrients from turmeric. Piperine, the active compound in pepper can increase curcumin absorption by as much as 2000%!
- Garlic– Garlic has strong antifungal properties. It contains a compound called Alliin which turns into Allicin when fresh garlic is crushed. Allicin boosts the disease-fighting response of the body. It is also an effective food for relief from gastric trouble.
- Tulsi (Holy basil)- In every courtyard of rural India homes, one plant stands tall and proud- Tulsi or holy basil. It is one of the most worshipped medicinal plants in India and for good reason. It is proven to provide immense and immediate relief from cough, cold, asthma and other lung disorders. It helps to cleanse the respiratory system. It is easily accessible in the form of herbal teas as it remains effective even in the dehydrated state.
- Honey– From a sugar alternative to our skincare routines, honey has found its way into our everyday lives thanks to its many benefits and healing properties. It has been used in many medicines since time immemorial. It has antioxidant and anti-microbial properties that help the immune system to eliminate unstable atoms called “Free Radicals” that can cause damage to cells and cause illnesses.
- Amla (Indian Gooseberry)- This little fruit has rightfully earned its status as a superfood. With eight times more vitamin C than an orange and twice the antioxidant power of acai berry, it not only effectively fights the common cold and is the ultimate immunity booster, it also helps improve eyesight, burns fat and improve quality of skin and hair. It can be consumed as a fresh juice or in the ancient dehydrated or pickled form.
Here are three simple recipes to get you started!
Morning Immuni Tea
- Boil one inch each of fresh turmeric and ginger root in a glass of water for 5 minutes.
- Turn off flame, add 4 to 5 tulsi leaves if available and cover and leave to brew for 5 minutes.
- Sieve into a cup and stir in a teaspoon of honey.
Have preferably first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
Garlic Pepper Rasam
Sauté a teaspoon of cumin seeds, a few curry leaves followed by 4 or 5 crushed cloves of garlic in a teaspoon of coconut oil or ghee. Add in 2 chopped tomatoes, a teaspoon of turmeric powder and 2 cups of water. Cover and cook until the tomatoes are soft and mushy. Add in salt to taste and 2 teaspoons of freshly ground pepper, Boil for 5 minutes, add a few sprigs of coriander leaves and serve warm as a soup or as an accompaniment to rice.
Chop and juice 1 Amla, one-inch piece of fresh ginger and dilute in a glass of fresh filtered water, Stir in a teaspoon of honey and enjoy preferably on an empty stomach in the morning.