With the COVID-19 outbreak, everyone’s focus is on increasing the body’s immunity and staying away from catching a cold or flu-like illness. Here, it becomes equally important to discuss how eating right and healthily can help to optimize our body’s ability to fight infections.
Eating right for strong immunity
Two misconceptions associated with eating and building immunity that we generally hear of are:
(a) Loading up on Vitamin C will increase immunity & keep us away from cold or flu and (b) Only drinking fresh fruit juices will boost immunity
Contrary to these beliefs, a whole lot of micronutrients, probiotics, and antioxidants are responsible for preparing the body to fight infections and external allergens effectively.
In this article, we will discuss:
1. List of key nutrients, vitamins, and minerals involved in the immune function
2. Cooking techniques to boost our immune system
List of key superfoods to be included in your daily diet
Foods rich in PROBIOTICS (yogurt, buttermilk)
Foods that are high in ANTIOXIDANTS (colorful fruits & veggies, garlic, turmeric, green tea, dark chocolate, beans)
Foods rich in VITAMIN A and C (all citrus fruits, broccoli, red bell pepper, papaya, strawberry, carrot, tomato)
Foods high in ZINC (found in green leafy vegetables)
Foods high in COPPER (found in whole grains and must be infused in our drinking water by using copper containers)
Healthy cooking techniques to support a strong immune system
Any cooking technique that has the right amount of flavors and retains nutrients in the food is a healthy cooking technique. Most often, frying or over-heating any food will destroy most of its nutrients and add unnecessary fats and calories to it.
While there are a number of healthy cooking techniques, the ones that will help activate our immune system responses are:
1) Pressure cooking - the most common cooking method used in Indian households, pressure cooking is perfect for cooking rice, dals, curries, etc. This method does not require much oil and since the vegetables and rice cook in water, the nutrients are retained.
2) Stir-frying - it is not only a super-fast cooking method but also one of the most nutritionally packed. Cooking at very high heat for a short time in a small amount of oil is perfect for cooking vegetables, meat, poultry, or even tofu. Always be careful of the amount of salt and other seasonings that are being added while stir-frying.
3) Steaming - also know as boiling, this technique is great for eating veggies the healthy way. Steaming requires less water, minimum or no oil and cooking time. Boiling veggies keeps the nutrients intact and one can add spices (especially salt and black pepper) for some flavour too.
4) Dry-roasting - this technique can be used for cooking paneer, gravies or chicken. Another healthy cooking technique that is easy and quick.
5) Broiling - one of the simplest of all cooking methods is broiling. Food is cooked under high, direct heat for a short period of time, with no additional oils involved.
Now that you are aware of the cooking techniques and the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals that one needs to have a strong immune system, it is time to implement these and share this important information with friends and family.
Eat fresh, eat healthily!