By Puja Chandra Nanda

As circuit breaker measures ease and people return to offices and schools and socialize with friends and family; the risk of contracting infections looms large. Just as we are all armed with masks and sanitizers to mitigate the risk of catching infections, we need to prepare our bodies to fight them off if we do catch them. Here is a list of natural immunity boosters that you can incorporate easily into your family’s daily diet.

5 Immunity Boosting Foods & How to Incorporate them in Your Daily Diet:

Yoghurt

The condition of one’s overall health is said to be directly proportional to the gut health. The humble yoghurt packs in probiotic goodness and plays a vital role in maintaining one’s digestive health. Yoghurt contains two probiotics: lactobacillus and bifidobacterium – the good bacteria that fights off the infection causing bacteria, protects the digestive flora and boosts immunity.

Everyone can enjoy yoghurt on a daily basis, even those who have lactose intolerance. These are some easy ways to enjoy your dollop of goodness:

  • On its own as part of a balanced meal, anytime of the day
  • As an addition to your breakfast cereal
  • As a smoothie with fruits such as berries and bananas for snacks
  • In salads, dips and and as a garnishing
  • As a marinade for meats and vegetables
  • As a dessert

Find yoghurt based recipes here

Manuka Honey:

Manuka honey contains many antioxidants including organic acids and phenolic compounds like flavonoids. Regular consumption of honey improves digestive health and boosts immunity. It also reduces bad LDL cholesterol while significantly raising “good” HDL cholesterol, preventing heart disease leading to better overall health. Manuka honey is known for its antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. More significantly, honey is considered a natural cough suppressant and is effective in relieving dry, itchy throat conditions.

Manuka honey can be safely consumed by all except infants (for fear of botulism). These are ways you can incorporate the liquid gold into your everyday diet:

  • On its own – take 1 or 2 tablespoons every morning
  • Mix in warm water, lemon water or make a concoction of ginger & honey to soothe the throat
  • Add to marinades, use as a glaze or dressing
  • Drizzle on your favourite breakfast cereal
  • Use as a topping on your yogurt or mix it in a smoothie
  • Use as a baking ingredient

For exciting recipes on manuka honey, visit here.

Nuts & Seeds

Nuts & seeds are healthy snacks with many from this family of foods being referred to as super-foods owing to their high nutrient content and their ability to boost immunity. On top of the list are chia seeds, walnuts and almonds. Nuts contain monounsaturated fat as well as omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. Nuts also pack a number of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and vitamin E.

Walnuts are an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are anti-inflammatory and considered as brain food. Almonds support gut health and boost immunity. The tiny chia seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition with omega-3 fatty acids and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Following are easy ways to consume these tiny superhouses of nutrition & energy:

  • On their own as mid-day snacks, or office munchies – mix different varieties and eat
  • As an addition to your breakfast cereal
  • On top of salads
  • In cakes and other baked products
  • Add to milk to make awesome shakes or to yogurt to make smoothies

Nuts such as almonds and chia seeds can be soaked for few hours before consumption.

For more ideas on how to use chia seeds and nuts in a variety of recipes, go here.

Berries

Dark berries such as blueberries are high in bioflavonoids- a type of antioxidant that can help reduce damage to cells and boost your immune system, earning them the title of superfoods. In addition, blueberries have high quantities of vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, dietary fiber, and manganese. 1 cup of strawberries alone can provide approximately 100 mg of Vitamin C.

For an optimal immune system boosting effect, eat a bowl of mixed berries- blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, acai berry and more or vary the berries from day to day, rather than eating just one variety.

This is how you can enjoy these brightly colored fruits everyday:

  • On their own as mid-day snacks – go for a mixed bowl
  • As an addition to your breakfast cereal
  • As a topping on yoghurt
  • Blend with milk or with yogurt to make your shakes and smoothies healthier and creamier
  • As a topping for your pancakes and waffles
  • In baked products

For more recipe ideas for berries, visit here.

Ginger

Ginger is a root vegetable and is often used in Asian cooking as a spice or condiment. This spicy root is well known for its ability to ease respiratory discomforts such as sore throat, cough and flu. Fresh ginger is effective against the RSV virus, a common cause of respiratory infections Gingerol, the bioactive substance in fresh ginger, can also help lower the risk of infections, boosting immunity. Having fresh ginger can stop the growth of many types of bacteria. Ginger is also effective in easing nausea and stomach indigestion.

These are some easy ways to consume this spicy root everyday:

  • Eat it raw
  • Mix in warm water or as a concoction with lemon to ease respiratory issues
  • Add to tea and soups
  • Use in marinades and curries
  • Stir into stir fries and sautes
  • Use as a baking ingredient in cookie dough, breads, cakes and other products

For more ginger recipe ideas, visit here.

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