Apart from mental wellness and well – being, physical well-being is equally important for our health and what we eat impacts both our physical as well as our mental well-being and health. Eating healthy is important for us to keep our body in check and avoid diseases and illnesses. While we’re all susceptible to falling sick, there are ways to ensure that our immune system and our bodies are kept healthy by eating healthy and avoiding things such as fad diets and junk food on a regular basis.
When we’re at work a lot of us tend to not give enough importance to our health and eating habits. We should ensure that we do since food is crucial for life, as it gives us energy and sustenance and helps in growth and development.
Food plays an important role in the promotion of health and disease prevention. With the current scenario and what we have been through, globally, over the last couple of years; taking care of health is something we all need to look at especially since it directly impacts our immunity and resistance to disease. A lot of people might not know that there are certain foods that boost your immunity and supercharge you. Consumption of these foods builds your resistance and lowers your susceptibility to falling ill.
- Spinach: Spinach is a powerhouse of antioxidants, beta-carotene, Vitamin C, magnesium and iron, which enhance the fighting capacity of our immune system. It contains high amounts of calcium which fortifies our bones and health. It is a superfood with multiple benefits. Eg. Good eyesight, regulation of blood pressure, keeping the brain active due to the presence of Vitamin K, strengthening the respiratory tracts and mucous membranes, prevention and treatment of anaemia.
- Yoghurt: Yoghurt contains healthy bacterial culture that stimulates the immune system and cools and soothes the digestive system. The calcium in yoghurt is good for maintaining bone mass and helps to prevent or delay bone conditions like osteoporosis.
- Seeds and nuts: Seeds like sunflower seeds, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds, among others, are packed with nutritional benefits. They protect against infections, strengthen the heart, reduce cholesterol and inflammation and regulate blood pressure. They also reduce the risk of developing cancers.
Almonds top the list of nuts, with their health benefits. They contain Vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant and key to a healthy immune system. They are excellent for the eyes, skin and hair. Our ancestors swore by the capacity of almonds and walnuts to boost memory. Walnuts also have healthy Omega-3 fats. The humble peanuts, cashew nuts, pistachios – all contain antioxidants which help fight infections.
- Citrus fruits: They contain Vitamin C which is believed to increase the production of white blood cells, also known as the “soldiers” since they fight infections. Most citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C and can be easily included in the diet e.g. oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerines, kiwis etc.
- Broccoli: One of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your plate—this cruciferous vegetable is packed with fiber, antioxidants as well as Vitamins A, C and E.
- Garlic and ginger: The pungent and flavorsome garlic has immunity- boosting properties due to a high concentration of sulfur compounds like allicin. Garlic is globally used in cooking and helps slowing down the hardening of the arteries and, to some extent, regulating blood pressure.
Ginger: Age-old Indian remedies promote ginger as a go-to cure for inflammation, pain, sore throat, nausea and acidity. It contains the enzyme gingerol.
- Turmeric: Turmeric is an ancient remedy to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
It is anti-inflammatory and the curcumin in turmeric helps decrease exercise-induced muscle damage. It is commonly used as a cure against cough, cold and as a painkiller. The world is discovering the benefits of turmeric where India has known them since centuries – turmeric latte is the Western name for our ‘haldi-doodh’ and its benefits are multi-fold.
- Green tea: Green and black teas are packed with flavonoids and catechins (a type of antioxidant). Green tea also has the amino acid L-Thiamine which helps in the production of germ-fighting compounds. Green tea acts as an antiviral agent and may work against obesity and coronary disease.
- Poultry:The phrase ‘Chicken soup for the Soul’ does have some truth to it. It helps lower inflammation and reduce symptoms of a cold providing immense relief. A source of Vitamin B-6, which is important to form new and healthy red blood cells. The high levels of protein help in building muscles during muscle-training, thereby strengthening the body and helping it fight against infections.
- Fish: Contains huge amounts of zinc especially shellfish like oysters, lobster, crab and mussels. Fish like mackerel and salmon are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids which have multiple benefits. They are rightly called ‘brain food’. Zinc, in the right amount, helps the immune system to function optimally.
- Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate contains antioxidant properties that protect the body from diseases. It helps to boost energy levels. The flavonols present in the cocoa beans from which dark chocolate is derived are good for the heart. Another benefit of good, old dark chocolate is to regulate blood pressure. Just one piece of dark chocolate a day can equip you with minerals like magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, selenium and potassium. And of course, chocolate makes you happy and happiness reflects good health.
- Mushrooms: Another source of protein, fiber and antioxidants are mushrooms. Mushrooms lower heart cholesterol, lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and cancer. Adding mushrooms to one’s diet gives the body a dose of copper, thiamine, selenium, phosphorus. Mushrooms help us develop a healthy immune system.
Eating right, with the recommended food intake, supercharges our bodies and we are able to function at our best capacity.
A point to ponder, in the words of Virginia Woolf, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
**DISCLAIMER: Please consult your doctor or a certified medical professional for advice specific to your diet especially if you have underlying health issues.
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