Eating healthy has never been as important as it is after a COVID-19 diagnosis. What we eat and drink can affect our body’s ability to prevent, fight and recover from infections. A balanced diet including immunity foods is the first step towards building our resistance and regaining our strength.
Here is the list of the seven points on immunity foods everyone must remember to boost immunity and aid quick recovery after COVID-19:
Omega-3-Fatty Acids and Foods that Boost Your Immune System
Food to increase immunity should always contain omega-3-fatty acids. There are 3 main omega-3-fatty acids - alpha-linolenic acid being the most important of them all. It decreases inflammation that may result from any viral infection. Alpha-linolenic acid helps treat Hashimoto’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory (swelling) diseases.
Here are some main sources of omega-3-fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid) that you can include in your diet –
- Flaxseed (flaxseed or linseed oil)
- Soybean (or soybean oil)
- Canola oil
- Walnuts (and walnut oil)
- Pumpkin seeds
Antioxidant-rich Unprocessed Food to Increase Immunity
Eat plenty of fresh and unprocessed food every day. Unprocessed Food to increase immunity may include vegetables, fruits, husked legumes, and grains. Fresh fish and meat are also great sources of omega-3-fatty acids. Unprocessed food reduces weight, increases stamina, and effectively reduces the risks of heart disease.
Add 1½ to 2 cups per day of fruit and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables to your diet plan. They can increase antioxidants in your body. Lean towards seasonal fruits and vegetables to make your meals flavorful and enticing.
Your daily staples can include the following –
- Edamame beans
- Brussels sprouts
Try to include some garlic, onion, scallions, and shallots in your preparations regularly. These sulfur-rich immunity booster vegetables catalyze the body's natural detoxification process.
Immunity Boosting Food Containing Good Fats
Did you know? Not all fats are bad. There are good fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs and PUFAs respectively) that lower the risk of cardiac problems, lower LDL cholesterol, increase (good) HDL cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and boost immunity.
Here are some of the most common food to increase immunity that contain good fat –
Pure Bilona (Desi) Ghee
Desi Cow’s Bilona Ghee is full of nutrients, fatty acids, antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, and antiviral properties. It is cool, sweet, and a kind of saturated fat that we can add to our cooked food daily during lunch or dinner. However, you may want to avoid it if you are intolerant and/or allergic to dairy products.
Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil contains high levels of vitamin E and K. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant involved in immune function, while vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting properties and bone health.
Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil and Coconut Butter
Adding around 10 ml of cold-pressed coconut oil or coconut butter to your morning smoothie can give you an instant boost of energy that stays all day long. It reduces the urge to binge eat and helps restore proper digestive functions. It is a brilliant natural laxative that works by cleaning out toxins and replenishing healthy gut bacteria and pH balance.
You can find avocados aplenty at any market or digital grocery store. Avocados are ridiculously popular due to their antioxidant, high good fat, and vitamin content. It is one of the few fruits that has Vitamins C, E, B6, and K, along with niacin, folate, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, potassium, and magnesium. A grilled or simply sliced raw avocado can become your ideal food to increase immunity.
Natural cheese is a rich source of good fat and protein. If you don't have lactose intolerance and casein/whey allergies, you can include unprocessed cheese in your diet. Natural goat cheese and yak cheese do not have any preservatives or chemicals. Cottage cheese, cream cheese, brie, and camembert are all popular natural cheeses that you can purchase or even prepare at home with a little elbow grease.
Nuts and Seeds
Almost all nuts and seeds have oodles of good fat and other necessary nutrients. However, nuts can be annoyingly irritating to the immune and digestive systems for many. Get tests done before leaning on a nut-rich diet. When in doubt, avoid peanuts and substitute dried peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut oil with other nuts and nut products such as cashew, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and seeds.
Fresh Fatty Fish
Fresh fatty fish is a great option for non-vegetarians. If there's a natural source of fish (rivers or sea) nearby, you should consider including fatty fish like Indian sardine, hilsa, giant river prawns, Indian river shad, mola carpet, and climbing perch (koi) in your diet. Fish are the complete foods that boost your immune system. It is perfectly fine to include only 300 to 400 grams of fish in your meals per week.
Complex Carbohydrate, Fiber, and Protein-rich Food to Boost Immunity
Do not forget to include protein, fiber, and complex sources of carbohydrates in every meal. You can find all three in legumes, dals, and whole grains. Legumes are a rich source of fibers that have various beneficial health effects. Legumes are immunity foods that control blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, lowers heart disease risk, and promote weight loss in the long run.
You should also consider adding millets, barley, sorghum, and amaranth (whole or flours) to your daily menu. They have an abundance of vitamin B, calcium, iron, potassium, copper, manganese, selenium, magnesium, and zinc. Since most of these grains have their outer cover, they are rich in fiber too.
Add Immunity Booster Vegetables with a Twist
Vegetable juices are easy to make and digest. They are also high in nutritional value. Add a simple vegetable juice to your breakfast or lunch meal. Immunity booster vegetables and their juices are the best sources of essential vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients.
You can add carrots, beetroot, tomatoes, chopped spinach, and celery with a dash of lemon and sea salt to your veggie juice. Go ahead and blend a green chili too if you are craving something slightly spicy! These are all immunity booster vegetables that not only help fight swelling and fatigue but also have anti-cancer properties.
If you are facing problems like bloating or water retention, you should consult a functional medicine doctor immediately. In such cases, you will have to drink limited volumes of fluid or oral electrolyte replacement solutions as recommended by the doctor.
What Foods You Should Avoid?
Avoid all refined flours, refined oils, and simple processed sugars. Avoid bakery items like bread, biscuits, cookies, and cakes since all of them include refined flour, refined oils, and processed sugar in generous quantities. You can check out elimination diets for additional information.
Refined flours cause an acid-alkaline imbalance in your stomach. Regular consumption of refined flour affects the body’s pH level. It also increases your blood sugar levels and causes weight gain. It also affects your digestive health and causes inflammation. Avoid processed grains and refined flours if you have been diagnosed with inflammatory diseases. Replace refined flours with whole grains like millet, amaranth, buckwheat, and sattu to fortify your immunity.
Can a Healthy Diet Prevent COVID-19 Infection?
A balanced diet with anti-inflammatory and antioxidants is crucial during and after COVID-19 infection. Foods that boost your immune system can all help prepare your body to fight the virus and come out without any severe post-COVID symptoms. No diet can prevent a viral infection such as COVID-19. Although the rate and severity of the infection are going down steadily, you should use a mask and wash your hands or use medical-grade hand sanitizer to keep yourself COVID-free.