‘A healthy outside starts from the inside’ — this can be achieved with a few simple dos and don’ts. But it must be noted that no single food can help build immunity. One needs to consume desired amount of all nutrients, water and eat a variety of foods within each food group to ensure adequate intake of important nutrients, recommends Dr Anita Jatana, chief dietician, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital and convenor, Indian Dietetics Association – Delhi.
Proteins are one of the most critical nutrients that support our immune system. Indians usually tend to consume lesser amount of proteins since many of us are vegetarians. So simple ways of including proteins is pulses, beans, legumes, milk and milk products, nuts and oil seeds, apart from eggs and non-vegetarian foods. Vitamin C is not only a physiological antioxidant but also helps to regenerate other antioxidants within the body. Include vitamin C rich foods like amla, guava, oranges, lemon, tomato, bell peppers and green chillies.
Vitamin D, the ‘sunshine vitamin’, has several important functions. Besides being essential for bone health, it is important in improving resistance to certain diseases and even fight depression. It is found in fatty fish, eggs and fortified foods like milk, cereals etc. Getting sunlight exposure between 11am to 1 pm, for 20-30 minutes is a good way to ensure its availability.
Zinc deficiency can impact the immune system. Natural sources of zinc are flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, black sesame seeds, whole legumes, dark chocolates and nuts.
Vitamin A is an important antioxidant nutrient that helps the body fight against infections. All dark green leafy vegetables, papaya, pumpkin, carrots and mango are good sources.