Good nutrition is essential for health and overall wellbeing especially, to strengthen the immune system. Immunity does not increase overnight. It is gradually built up by regularly taking a nutritious diet and having healthy lifestyle. Proper nutrition and hydration are vital. People who eat a well-balanced diet tend to be healthy with better immune systems and lower risk of chronic illnesses and infectious diseases. Here are the ways to help you have a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle that will support building immunity and overall wellbeing. Consume a nutritionally balanced diet daily including three types of foods.
Energy-giving cereals and millets (wheat, rice, ragi, bajra, jowar, etc), and fats/oils (nuts, oilseeds, cooking oil etc). Body-building pulses (all dals, beans, legumes), milk and milk products (curd, paneer etc) eggs, flesh foods (meat, poultry, fish). Protective foods seasonal fruits and vegetables (dark green leafy, yellow and orange coloured, citrus and other fruits). Consume 3 meals and 2 nutritious and healthy snacks like, roasted chana, murmura, makhana, nuts, moong dal chilla, sprouts with raw vegetables etc.
Several foods rich in antioxidant nutrients (Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin A), Iron, Zinc and Selenium and omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids boost immunity. These include: Dark green leafy vegetables like fenugreek leaves, spinach, Vitamin C rich foods like lemon, orange, amla, Yellow-orange fruits &vegetables like carrot, papaya, mango, Nuts like almonds, walnuts, gingelly seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids rich oil like safflower oil, sunflower oil, , Herbs, spices and condiments ginger, black pepper, turmeric, cloves, basil/tulsi.
Exposure to sunlight for 30-40 minutes, between 11 am & 1 pm daily in balcony/terrace, to maintain vitamin D levels in the body. It also increases the body’s immunity. Avoid or limit consumption of processed foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar such as samosas, pakodas, cookies, chips, pastries, ice-creams and sweetened beverages etc. One may be inclined towards eating these foods, especially in the current times; however, mindful eating should be followed.
Intake of alcohol, tobacco, smoking and other addictive substances should be avoided. Keep oneself hydrated. Daily drink at least 8-10 glasses of water and other fluids such as vegetable soups, lemon water, coconut water etc.
Apart from adding all these essential foods and drinks, keep the following things in mind to make this diet more effective:
- Prioritize fresh produce like fruits, vegetables over pre-packaged ones.
- Make sure all meals are simple and freshly cooked at home instead of relying on outside foods. Avoid eating out.
- Ensure that all hygiene practices are followed while preparing the food. Wash hands before and after handling/eating.
- Any diet is ineffective without proper sleep and exercise, so get enough rest and start with smaller physical activities.