Written by Candice Neo
With the current pandemic situation, besides staying home, I’m sure all of us are doing our best to stay healthy by eating right and staying active.
I’ve been a health nut recently too by feeding everyone with vitamin C with zinc (yes, you cannot leave zinc out because it’s absolutely necessary for a good immune system, and a lack of zinc makes one more susceptible to falling ill).
Of course, we should do our best to find these vitamins and minerals from the natural food that we eat, and consume supplements only if you feel that there’s a lack. But I personally try not to have a strict meal plan to ensure I get all my necessary nutrients for the day (it can be quite tiring!), hence I do take minimal supplements to ensure that at least for the most important ones, I’m not missing them out.
Even so, it’s important to know what we should at least be eating, so without further ado, here’s some food you must include in your daily diet to boost your immunity!
TripCanvas’ Tip: If you are currently on medication, do check with your doctor if any of the food items below clashes with your medicine before you consume them! Do also note that we should only consume what we need. Excessive intake of anything good can lead to health problems too!
1. Citrus fruits rich in vitamin C
Now I’m sure you guys know this! Vitamin C is said to increase the production of our white blood cells which play an important role in protecting our body against infectious diseases.
As someone who falls sick super easily (like 10 times in a year, I’m not kidding), I’ve found that after eating vitamin C supplements regularly, I generally recover from common colds more quickly!
You can find vitamin C in oranges, lemons, grapefruit and limes.
Used in medicine for centuries, elderberries and its flowers are packed with antioxidants and have antiviral, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is commonly taken as a remedy for colds, flu, and bacterial sinus infections by reducing swelling in mucus membranes.
3. Acai berry
Rich in antioxidants, these berries neutralise free radicals in your body, reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. In fact, it’s so potent an antioxidant that medical researchers are studying it as a potential treatment for cardiovascular diseases, lower rectum cancer, constipation and more!
Rich in antioxidants, ginger reduces inflammation and boosts your immunity. I strongly recommend making ginger tea (you just need to slice up fresh ginger and boil it in water) at home – it has antibacterial and antiviral properties. One of my aunts makes this at home regularly and her family hardly ever catches the common cold!
I must admit I’m not a huge fan of garlic, but it is well-known for being rich in antioxidants too and has antibacterial and antiviral properties as well. It helps to protect you against Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and cancers. It can even shorten the duration of the flu!
6. Red bell peppers (capsicums)
Guess what, red bell peppers actually contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruit! It’s also rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A, which are great for the eyes. Vitamin A supports healthy night vision too. It’s also high in antioxidants!
Best to eat it raw though – heat reduces its vitamin C content. Red peppers also increase our metabolism, so yes you can even burn more calories!
Fun fact: Did you know that green peppers are just unripe red peppers? And because they are not fully mature, they contain half as much vitamin C and much less vitamin A than the red version!
High in selenium and B vitamin (such as riboflavin and niacin) content, mushrooms are important for your immune system. They are versatile too – they can be eaten raw mixed in salad, grilled, roasted or sautéed to bring out their flavour.
If you must eat only one type of vegetable, it must be broccoli, hands down. There’s a reason why Moms always make us eat our broccoli – it’s packed with so many nutrients that fight cancer! A cup of broccoli gives you as much vitamin C as an orange does. It’s also rich in beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, and B6) and fibre.
It also contains glutathione, which is an antioxidant.
Spinach is rich in antioxidants, zeaxanthin and lutein (the latter two are important in protecting our eyes from the damage caused by sunlight. Studies have shown that it also has properties that slow down cancer growth in our bodies.
So eat your spinach like Popeye does! 😉
Did you know that the high antioxidant content in almonds are concentrated in the brown layer of the skin? (Not the shell, which is usually removed from the packets sold, but the skin).
So snacking on these nuts can reduce ageing, inflammation and risks of cancer. It also is rich in vitamin E, which lowers the risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease too.
11. Wheat germ
Wheat germ comes from the innermost part of the wheat kernel, and is actually the most nutritious part of the grain and you can get your daily dose of B vitamins, zinc and VItamin E from here. Sprinkle it onto your yoghurt, cereal or baked desserts as a topping!
12. Green tea
Did you know that drinking certain kinds of Japanese green tea can enable you to lose weight by curbing your desire to snack in between meals? Not to mention it’s full of antioxidants that can boost your immunity and reduce the risk of heart disease. It increases the good cholesterol and decreases bad cholesterol in your body.
Definitely what we need now during this stressful time!
13. Miso soup
Made from fermented soybeans, miso is a salty paste often cooked as soup and is a staple in Japanese meals. And if you, like me, struggle to maintain good gut health, you’ll be glad to know that it’s also rich in probiotics, which will balance the flora and microorganisms in your your gastrointestinal tract.
A healthy gut means a strong immune system too!
Pomegranate has been found to stop the growth of harmful bacteria and have antiviral properties that help prevent flu and other viruses. It promotes the healthy growth of gut flora too which also contributes to a healthy immune system!
I personally enjoy juicing it, or adding it into salad. 😉
15. Low-fat yoghurt
Yoghurt is rich in probiotics, which strengthens gut health, and in term boosts your immunity. It also contains zinc and other minerals that are important for your immune system too!
Other benefits include controlling blood pressure due to its potassium content, helping in workout recovery and weight loss and strengthening your bone density as it contains calcium too.
If there’s a fruit juice I would never tire of, it’s watermelon juice. It’s super hydrating and refreshing, not to mention it contains vitamins C, B1, B5, B6 and A, potassium, magnesium and glutathione, which is an antioxidant important for your immune system.
Watermelon also helps to lower your cholesterol level and blood pressure too.
Oysters are considered a superfood – they contain so much nutrients like selenium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin A and zinc. Some of these are important in building up your immune system.
I love eating them raw but you can grill or stew them too!
I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of papaya but it does have a host of health benefits, like did you know that one papaya contains more than twice the amount of your daily recommended dose of vitamin C?
You can also get potassium, B vitamins, folate and a digestive enzyme papain which has anti-inflammatory properties from this fruit!
Kiwis are full of folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C, which is essential for your immune system. One cup of kiwi provides around 273 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C! They contain antioxidants too and are high in zeaxanthin and lutein, which help protect your eyes against vision loss.
They help to lower blood pressure too.
20. Sunflower seeds
If you’re a 90’s kid like me, do you recall snacking on chocolate-coated sunflower seeds back in high school? I certainly do and still love them!
Containing vitamin E, magnesium, protein and linoleic fatty acids, sunflower seeds helps to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It also reduces inflammation and reduces risk of heart diseases by lowering blood pressure.
Sprinkle some onto your cereals or yoghurt for that extra crunch! 😉
Have you always heard about how chicken soup is comforting when you are down with the flu? Here’s the facts: Chicken helps to boost the immune cells in your body, while the steam from the soup clears your nasal passages.
And besides being a good source of protein, did you know that eating poultry helps you de-stress? Yes, that’s due to its tryptophan and vitamin B5 content. It also contains magnesium which helps reduce PMS, so ladies, now you know what to look out for when the time of the month comes!
Walnuts have antioxidant properties due to its content of vitamin E, melatonin and plant compounds called polyphenols, which can be found in the skin of walnuts. It’s also richer in Omega-3 fat than other nuts, which lowers your risk of heart disease.
Eating walnuts also helps fight inflammation, improves the composition of gut bacteria, lowers blood pressure and may also lower the risk of certain cancers.
Carrots are a great source of beta-carotene (antioxidants that your body converts into vitamin A, which in turn is important for good vision), antioxidants which reduce the risk of certain cancers, vitamin K1, potassium and fibre.
This root vegetable is known to reduce blood cholesterol levels too!
Are there any other immunity-boosting foods we’ve missed? Share with us! Share these with your loved ones so you know what to look out for when grocery shopping!
Healthline and related health magazines