Top 10 foods to boost your immunity in winter

Does winter affect immunity?

Immunity is the body’s ability to protect itself from infections. When any foreign substance enters the body, our defense mechanism is activated, starts making antibodies, and protects the body. Weather or Climate change may affect the responses of the immune system.

In winter these factors lower immunity:

-Cold and dry air
-Reduced Vitamin D production due to lesser sun exposure.
-Inactive lifestyle and lesser exercise habits
-Low intake of Vitamin C and Zinc-rich foods

All these factors lower the immunity, hence the risk of catching the common cold and other infections is increased.

Here are some foods that may help to keep your body warm and boost your immunity.

1. Fish

Fish and other seafood are good sources of Vitamin D containing. Fish also contains omega-6 fatty acids which prevent from getting dandruff and dry skin. Moreover eating fish also prevents the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

It is suggested to consume at least 8 ounces of seafood per week based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Pregnant and breastfeeding women consume between 8 and 12 ounces per week of a variety of seafood.1

2. Desi Ghee

Desi ghee is made from butter by simmering it until solid milk fats are caramelized and get separated. Ghee keeps your body warm. Ghee has a high smoke point which makes it good for use in cooking. Ghee is beneficial for the immune system and skin. Due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties ghee is very effective in treating cough.

Ghee especially desi ghee is considered healthy. You can consume 3-6 teaspoons of ghee daily if you’re physically active and have no comorbidities.

3. Nuts

Nuts like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, and pistachios are considered healthy and beneficial for winter. You are advised to consume a handful of nuts daily. They are rich in antioxidants and healthy fats. Nuts are also a very good source of Zinc, which supports our immune system.

Nuts are a nutrient-dense and very good source of omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E which keeps your skin fresh and moisturized. Nuts especially walnuts have bioavailable melatonin which also helps in treating insomnia.

4. Soup

Soups are liquid-based, that’s why they are good for hydration and also keep your body warm. Soups give you a soothing effect and help your body to reduce the symptoms of illness by boosting your immune system. Soups are rich in taste and give you a feeling of fullness. Soups are loaded with disease-fighting nutrients and also help you to feel better in flu or common cold. Chicken and vegetable soup is very delicious and nutritious for having in winter.

5. Root Vegetables

Vegetables are a rich source of vitamins and fiber. They have anti-inflammatory properties and also help in boosting your immune system. Vegetables help to boost your mood. Root vegetables are rich in Vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and fiber which strengthens your immune system to fight against pathogens.

Vegetables especially root vegetables like carrots, turnips, radishes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. are very healthy choices. Sweet potatoes are full of antioxidants and boost your immunity. They have high levels of beta-carotene which also prevents aging.

You can consume 3-5 servings of vegetables daily.

6. Fruits

Fruits are nutrient-dense and a very rich source of fiber. Fruits are low in calories but very good for healthy and glowy skin. Fruits especially citrus fruits are rich in Vitamin C which helps to boost immunity.

Fruits like grapefruit, oranges, pomegranate, pears, persimmon, etc. are very good for the immune system. You can consume 2-4 servings of fruits daily.

Dates are a superfood and have a very high nutritional value. They are iron-rich and also help you to stay warm by boosting immunity. They are also considered good against allergies and coughs.

7. Millet

It is a powerhouse of nutrients and fiber. It is gluten-free and improves immunity. It helps to regulate blood glucose levels and also improves heart health. Millets contain antioxidants that help the body resist diseases.

8. Mustard leaves

They are an excellent source of vitamin K, which is beneficial for bone health and also good for the immune system. This Punjabi food helps to keep the body warm and helps to build immunity against cold.

These are also good sources of beta-carotene which makes your skin glow.

9. Yogurt

Yogurt is a rich source of probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are gut-friendly and researchers have proven their immune-boosting effects. Yogurt is also a good source of Vitamin D which has an essential role in immunity. It is advised to consume plain yogurt instead of sweetened or artificially flavored yogurt. You can consume 2-3 servings of yogurt daily.

10. Seeds

Seeds are power-house of immunity booster nutrients and also aid in digestion so overall they have a positive effect on the body. Seeds like sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are rich in antioxidants and phosphorus, Selenium, Manganese, and Vitamin E. 

You can consume 2 tablespoons of seeds per day.

General guidelines for winter:

Eat healthy

Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. Eat small but frequently caloric-dense and nutrient-dense foods. To be fit and healthy consume a variety of foods. Add food choices in your meal from all food groups.

Maintain good hygiene

Maintaining good hygiene will prevent from getting infections. Wash your hands properly before and after having meals. Take a bath daily to shed germs.

Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of liquid to prevent dehydration. Consume 8 glasses of water daily even if you’re not feeling thirsty.

Get sound sleep

Getting sleep of 6-8 hours is advised. Lack of sleep makes you restless and you get fatigued very easily.

Be active

Try to be physically active. Try to get engaged in physical activity of moderate intensity like brisk walking, jogging, etc. for 150 minutes per week or 75 minutes per week for vigorous intensity like cycling, hiking, running, etc.

Get enough Vitamin D

Go outdoors and soak in the sun to get vitamin D for 10-30 minutes in the mid-day sun several times a week. RDA of vitamin D is 600 IU/15 micrograms per day. 2

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