Immunity improving foods: which are backed by science

Turmeric

person pouring seasonings on clear glass bowl

This is something which everyone Indian swears by. Whenever you have any health problems the answer is turmeric.

Got bruised? Apply turmeric.

Have sore throat? Drink turmeric milk.

Want to add colours to your food? Screw food colours we’ve got turmeric.

Got skin problems? Apply turmeric and chickpea flour paste.

I know that’s a bit of an exaggeration but turmeric is a spice which has ton of health benefits.

It has curcumin which is the most biologically active compound in turmeric. Turmeric has very less curcumin but it’s absorption can be increased by eating black pepper with it.

It has antioxidants. Now what are antioxidants?

what?
what?

Antioxidants are reactive species just like angry people who fight with anyone, these reactive species react with anything and this happens to be our body cells. This causes damage to our cells and it is one of the reasons, why we age.

Our body does have some antioxidant capacity of its own but it’s boosted by eating antioxidant rich foods like turmeric.

Turmeric also has some excellent anti-inflammatory properties that’s why its applied to open wounds. It’s also a known antimicrobial agent. These properties help in wound healing.

Turmeric is best absorbed in the body along with some healthy fats so its best consumed in the form of turmeric milk. Hence it’s eaten in the form of turmeric milk and added in tadkas. If you want know more about tadkas I have an article just about it.

How to make turmeric milk –

In some warm milk just add 1/3 tablespoon of turmeric with a tablespoon of jaggery. This is the way I like to drink my turmeric milk.

 Some people go fancy and  add ginger, little black pepper and call it turmeric latte.

Tulsi leaves

Holy basil leaves, tulsi leaves

This is my personal favourite. Ever since I was little, I remember I loved eating Tulsi leaves.

This holy basil is different than the normal basil which is used by Italians in marinara sauce.

Generally, all Indians have holy basil planted in their houses. We planted just one sapling of tulsi last year and from that now we have seven new saplings at our house, without doing any work manually. This plant seems to be really good at survival.

There have also been claims that tulsi is a very good air purifier.

Best time to eat holy  basil leaves

This is 5am to 6am. And the reason is that there are different levels of alkalois  in the plant at different time so the highest alkaloids in tulsi are between 5am to 6am. that’s why for maximum benefits you should eat tulsi leaves at that time.

How to make tulsi tea –

tulsi tea, holy basil leaves tea

Just add 3-4 leaves in a glass of water. Now, boil it till you see water becoming green in colour. This tea has a bitter taste to it so, I would like eat my tulsi leaves raw.

Garlic

white garlic on black table

We generally never think of garlic as a healthy food.

 But, according to a study done on 970 individuals (very good number of individuals for trials) garlic can lower blood pressure for people with low blood pressure problems, can lower cholesterol level to a small extent and improve immunity by helping cells of immune system in their  function. (1)

A Greek physician name Hippocrates used garlic to treat many diseases. It’s well known that warm stuff which has garlic are used to treat common cold but, my favourite part is to eat warm soup with garlic in it when you have cold.

Garlic has antioxidants too and with very few calories, It has minerals like manganese and selenium. It also has vitamins like Vit B6 and Vit C.

If you want to add garlic to your dishes here is a technique which might help you out.

Lemon honey water

clear glass container with lemon slices

When it comes to this concoction its publicised like a mysterious witch soup which will get you in shape. If there was an award for health myths lemon honey water would have it. Well, let me tell you that this is not true, it doesn’t melt any fat away. I have been drinking it since at least last 3-4 months now, and believe me it doesn’t help with weight loss.

Also, all that detoxification stuff, that’s  a myth too.

In fact, it has 6g of sugar and a bunch of calories. if you want to know why sugar is bad for you checkout this link.

Even if it is not a magical drink, it does have some benefits.

It has a way fewer calories than traditional drinks. It has superfoods like lemon and honey this will help you provide your body with all the vitamins and minerals. Because of this it can improve your immunity.

It does help if you are cold.

It sometimes makes you eat less and that’s why you tend to consume fewer calories. This is where all those weight loss myths come from.

It improves digestive health too.

How to make it :

It’s a very easy drink to make. just heat the water till it becomes lukewarm and not boiling or hot. Honey is not supposed be heated beyond 100 degree Celsius.  Add a quarter lemon’s juice to it with just a tablespoon or even half a tablespoon if you can tolerate the sourness of lemon.

And that’s it you’re done. You can add ginger if you like to have a little spicy. I tried it tastes good.

If It’s summer and you wanna enjoy it then just add some ice cubes to it.

Papaya

sliced papaya on green banana leaf

Papaya has to be the most under-rated immunity improving food.Papaya packs double the recommended amount of Vit C in a single fruit.

Now what’s all the fuss about this Vit C. well, Vit C increases the production of blood cells which fights of the infection. That’s why whenever we talk of immunity Vit C comes first. It also needs to be consumed daily in our diet.

 It also has a lot of potassium( otherwise also found in bananas) magnesium and folate. So, eat papayas.

Summary

There is a lot of myths when it comes to immunity improving foods so be sure whatever you are reading is a trustworthy resource. Foods like turmeric, tulsi leaves, garlic, lemon honey water and papaya are packed with nutrients which will improve your immunity and over all health.

Reference links

https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/146/2/389S/4584698(1)

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-garlic#section10

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system#papaya

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