Our immune system is engineered to fight diseases and viruses, to heal wounds, and to give us signals about what’s happening inside our body. We all know this. We know the importance of having strong immunity, but our modern, busy lifestyle has made it difficult for us to take good care of it. Stress, lack of sleep, unhealthy diet, etc. can have a negative impact on this protective system of ours, as they cause inflammation, which can disrupt our immune system’s ability to do its job.
Inflammation can be both good and bad. On one hand, it helps the body defend itself and protect it from infections and disease-causing pathogens. While on the other hand, chronic inflammation can bring major health concerns with it. Let’s understand how.
Inflammation & immunity
Inflammation is nothing but your body’s protective response to injuries or infections. It is a complex process that involves various types of immune cells, clotting proteins, and signaling molecules, all of which change over time. Having an inflammatory response may indicate that the body and the immune system are working fine, but it can be irritating and painful sometimes. And as I have said before, chronic inflammation can disrupt reactions and pave the way for other health issues. Therefore, it becomes extremely important to control such inflammatory conditions.
Of course, there are medications and other allopathic alternatives, but what’s better than natural, right? So, here I tell you about some food items that are naturally anti-inflammatory and can enhance your immune response.
Ginger tea: A sip of hot adrak wali chai is pure bliss, isn’t it? Ginger tea does not only please your taste buds, but it also helps in treating common cold and flu, thanks to the root’s potent anti-inflammatory properties. Not only that, but ginger is also known to play a key role in boosting your immunity. So, the next time you urge a cup of tea, make sure you put some ginger in it.
Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt is enriched with illness-fighting probiotics and has more protein than regular yogurt, which plays an anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory role. It helps the body fight against foreign invaders like viruses and other pathogens. The probiotics in this creamy delight can also help prevent and treat the common cold. If for some reason, you cannot have Greek yogurt, you can opt for probiotic supplements. Many such supplements have the goodness of yogurt with an increased potency which may prove to be more effective and beneficial for you.
Berries: Berries are the tiny treasure of health! They contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins which are known to reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and prevent common cough and cold.
Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate is not only delicious and satisfying but is also packed with antioxidants that reduce inflammation. They can also contribute to minimizing the risk of various diseases and may lead to healthier aging. Dark chocolate contains a good amount of theobromine (an antioxidant) that has been found to be helpful in alleviating cough.
Broccoli: Broccoli can be an incredibly helpful addition to your diet if you’re trying to prevent a cold. Broccoli, along with other cruciferous vegetables are even known to help boost immunity. A chemical that’s found in this veggie, that goes by the name sulforaphane, switches on antioxidant genes and enzymes in specific immune cells. This process helps the body combat free radicals and prevent you from getting sick.
Spinach: This is one of the best-known anti-inflammatory superfoods that can prove to be amazing for your overall health. It is enriched with digestion-regulating fiber and also contains vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful nutrient that can help your body in preventing the common cold and soothe the symptoms.
Garlic: Garlic has earned its place in the list of best cold-curing foods. These properties are tied to its sulfur-containing compounds such as allicin. Allicin is said to improve the immune cells’ ability to fight against cold and flu causing pathogens, and viruses of all kinds. It also has anti-microbial and anti-viral properties that help fight infections.
Turmeric: Turmeric is perhaps the best anti-inflammatory superfood of them all, thanks to the presence of curcumin. Curcumin is a nutrient that gives turmeric its distinctive yellow color, and is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. However, the bioavailability of curcumin is extremely low which prevents us from gaining all the benefits from it. But luckily for us, there are several curcumin supplements available with higher levels of absorption and increased bioavailability. Such supplements enhance the properties of this nutrient and may prove to be more effective for you.
(The writer is adviser of integrative lifestyle and nutrition at Purenutrition.in)