Build the fighter in you
Naini Setalvad urges us to try her immunity-building diet to overcome the onslaughts of virulent pathogens
We all know about the disease COVID-19 and how it has taken over the lives of every human being on this planet. Yes, the virus (SARS-CoV 2) is spreading like wildfire and it can have its chain broken by social distancing and staying at home. However, I have to share with you that we can also add a few foods to our diet, which will help us build a stronger immune system.
I firmly believe that having a solid immune system will allow you and your family to withstand this virus as well as any other virus. Let me impart, the ways by which this can be done daily, very easily.
The first and most important thing that I want you to keep in mind is water. Our bodies are made up mostly of water, so the more water we give it, the easier it is for us to fight off any virus. Please make sure to sip on plenty of warm water throughout the day as it will really help you. You can also add hot fluids like soups, rasam (spicy South Indian soup), or herbal teas. These will keep you hydrated, help mucus to flow, and keep the throat moist, thus flushing out toxins from your body. Throughout the day, gargle with hot water containing natural salts and turmeric powder to keep the throat bacteria-free.
Another important nutrient that helps the body to fight off infections or viruses is vitamin C. Vitamin C strengthens white blood cells, which are essential for fighting any infection. I insist that you should have as much lemon as you can during the day as it is one of the best natural sources of vitamin C. You can add lemon to your water or simply squeeze lemon juice and take a lemon shot. It is very easy to incorporate lemon into your daily food. Just squeeze lemon on all your food before eating it.
Certain spices like ginger, garlic, and turmeric are essential for the smooth functioning of the body on a day-to-day basis. I fondly refer to this combination as GGT and please don’t mistake it for GST! However, as essential as GST is for the economy to work, so is GGT for the body. This trinity allows the body to prevent, retard, and reverse all kinds of inflammations, virus infections, and diseases. They are your most powerful little soldiers that fight diseases and boost your immunity. Simply add these to your food daily, not just for their benefits but also for the taste!
Ghee (clarified butter) acts as a natural balm for your throat as it eases throat pain. So, in a glass of warm water, add some turmeric along with a few drops of ghee and sip on this concoction. The high melting point of this fat makes it a great free-radical-damage fighter and is thus ideal for Indian cooking. If it is possible, choose cow’s ghee, as the benefits override those of any other type of ghee.
Certain foods contain antioxidants, which are essential to fight off any illnesses. Leafy greens like coriander, neem, and tulsi (the last two being medicinal herbs) are small in size but big on antioxidants. All you have to do is sprinkle some coriander on top of any dish, and you can reap the benefits it has to offer. Add curry leaves to your food. ‘Neem’ translates to ‘healer and illness-reliever’ whereas ‘Tulsi’ de-stresses you and is used in a lot of traditional Indian medicines. So chew on some fresh tulsi leaves daily.
I strongly believe that fruits are your natural source of instant energy and fibre. They contain very little sugar and help your body to flush out any toxin or possible infections that might be present. Just add a fruit—raw mango and ripe mango are an excellent option as both are rich in Vitamin C—to your daily diet. For breakfast, you can switch to a ripe mango, or use raw mango as a garnish on your evening snack by cutting it into pieces. Just watch how adding fruits uplifts your energy levels daily. Keep in mind to stick to seasonal and local fruits, as those are the ones packed with the most benefits. You can choose from watermelon, melon, pineapple, phalsa, ice apple, and jamun (black plum) too!
All vegetables have phytochemicals, which are your immunity boosters. When you sit down to eat, you should ensure that at least half your plate is filled with vegetables. Don’t just stick only to the greens. I say that the more varied the colours of vegetables, the more the antioxidants. I like to tell people that the more the vegetables, the merrier you will be. In India, we are truly spoilt for choice!
Make sure that you always include grains in your diet because they give you energy, fibre, and satiate you. Your grains contain a lot of lignin precursors and are rich in Viamin B, which give you fibre and energy. Be it jowar (sorghum), bajra (pearl millet), barley, nachni (finger millet), brown rice, or whole wheat grains, remember to add cow’s ghee to any grain to ease digestion. Combine this with vegetables, pulses, and daals (lentils), especially at lunchtime, and you will get an immunity-boosting plate.
I always tell my clients that the smallest change they can make in their life which will have the biggest effect on their immunity is to eat real food. Real food means organic food, as it is—without chemicals, pesticides, artificial colours, growth hormones, etc.—which is grown in the local areas, is seasonal, and is eaten fresh. Just following these simple steps regarding your fruits, vegetables, and grains will really turn your life around as they are rich in essential minerals and antioxidants.
All in all, fighting off any virus comes down to having a strong immune system. All you need to do is incorporate the above foods into your diet and watch how you feel stronger and more energetic as the days pass.
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