A healthy immune system is vital for the body to function correctly. It helps the body fight viruses and bacteria that result in infections and other health problems. Especially now, strengthening immunity is the top priority with the pandemic looming large above us. However, immunity does not build over a day and requires consistency. With the given lifestyle and lack of time to self-care, we need to make improving immunity a habit. However, you can quickly jump into a path of better immunity by adopting a healthier and an active lifestyle, clean eating habits and consuming specific immunity boosting drinks that effectively enhance the body’s immunity.
Immune System: How it Works
The immune system strives to identify and eliminate pathogens by detecting harmful foreign substances entering the body. It stimulates B lymphocytes, which produce antibodies (also known as immunoglobulins). These proteins bind themselves to specific antigens. Our systems usually retain antibodies once they generate to fight the same kind of infections in future. It is how a person who contracts an illness once, such as chickenpox, is unlikely to contract it again.
Immunisations (vaccines) work in a similar way to prevent certain diseases. Immunisation is a method of exposing the body to an antigen without making it sick. However, it makes the body produce antibodies to safeguard the person from similar future antigen attacks. Although antibodies can recognise and bind themselves to antigen, they can’t kill it independently. T cells are in charge of this. They kill the antigens along with the contaminated and altered cells. Additionally, T cells assist in signalling other cells (such as phagocytes) to perform their functions.
Nutrients that Help Boost the Immune System
Consuming foods and liquids rich in nutrients is vital for the healthy functioning of body cells, including immune cells. The right combination prepares our system to fight microbial invasion and excessive inflammation. On the other hand, not following a proper diet can affect the body. That is because our body’s immune system responds best in the presence of multiple and different micronutrients. Therefore, it is vital not to restrict our diet to a fixed pattern and set of food.
Foods rich in nutrients are better than supplements. Therefore, it is always preferred to consume natural dietary items rather than taking supplements. A well-balanced diet will provide sufficient nutrition to sustain a healthy immune system.
Few nutrients that are important for the proper functioning of immune cells are vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein (including the amino acid glutamine). They are present in different types of plant and animal foods.
Natural Immune Boosting Drinks
1. Green Tea
Nutritional Value for one cup of Green tea:
- Energy: 1kcal
- Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 0.2g
- Sodium: 1mg
- Potassium: 9mg
As per a study conducted, green tea contains a polyphenol called EGCG that boosts the quantity of T cells in the body. Additionally, EGCG carries anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer qualities. T cells are responsible for a healthy immune function and suppressing autoimmune disease.
Our immune system consists of different kinds of cells. It’s a complex act to selectively fight harmful pathogens while ensuring that essential cells don’t get damaged in the process. Often, the body harms itself while trying to fight germs and viruses. It mainly occurs with autoimmune diseases like allergies, juvenile diabetes and severe conditions like Lou Gehrig’s disease. T cells help prevent the immune system from damaging essential cells.
2. Pomegranate Juice
Nutritional Value for 100 ml of pomegranate juice:
- Calories: 68kCal
- Fat: 0.3g
- Carbs: 17.1g
- Protein: 0.9g
Pomegranate juice is amongst the most nutrient-rich beverages and immunity boosting drink available in supermarkets. It is high in antioxidants and protects the cells from damage caused due to oxidative stress and inflammation. It additionally helps the body get relief from arthritis symptoms.
Pomegranates are also high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is one of the best nutrients to boost the body’s immunity. It helps the body produce antibodies that fight harmful foreign substances entering the body. Furthermore, pomegranates are high in anti-inflammatory components, making them ideal for people with immune-related diseases such as osteoarthritis. As per studies, therefore, you can consume pomegranate juice for a robust immune system and the prevention of infections caused by viruses and bacteria.
3. Beet Juice
Nutritional Value for 100 ml of beetroot juice:
- Calories: 43kCal
- Water: 88%
- Protein: 1.6 g
- Sugar: 0.6 g
- Fibre: 2.8 g
- Fat: 0.2 g
Beets are high in critical vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Beet juice assists in building resistance against bacteria, viruses, and related health issues. They are essential for enhancing immunity and maintaining optimum health. As per studies, it contains Vitamin C, Folate, Iron, Antioxidants that significantly helps the body prevent infections and other ailments.
Beetroot is high in iron, necessary for forming red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. Iron is equally essential for healthy immunological function. Many metabolic activities in immune and non-immune cells require iron. Iron aids in the active immune system’s response to pathogens and infections.
Beet juice has folate, which is a type of B-Vitamin. It is vital for the healthy maintenance of cells and strengthening our immunity. Folate is critical for the healthy development of foetuses during pregnancy. It also plays a significant role in repairing and forming DNA. A folate deficiency leads to a weakened immune system and may compromise immunological health.
4. Lemon Water
Nutritional Value for 100 ml lemon water:
- Calories: 29kCal
- Water: 89%
- Protein: 1.1g
- Carbs: 9.3 g
- Sugar: 2.5 g
- Fibre: 2.8 g
- Fat: 0.3 g
Lemons are rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant. They effectively boost the immune system of our body. Through their antioxidant properties, lemons help the cells stay healthy. Antioxidants fight free radicals present in our bodies that cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress damages the cells by attacking their DNA and cell membrane components. It keeps the cells healthy and strong enough to keep the pathogens away. It stops harmful viruses and bacteria from contracting the body. Lemons also have antibacterial and antiviral properties. You can add honey to a warm cup of lemon water and drink it every morning to fight infections.
Water is crucial for a robust immune system. It is vital for absorbing some nutrients, like vitamin C and transporting nutrients across the body. Additionally, they assist in maintaining body temperature and the removal of toxins from the body.
The body needs to stay hydrated because it helps its lymphatic system transport white blood cells. In addition, white blood cells are essential for boosting the body’s immunity.
Homemade Immunity Boosting Drinks
1. Turmeric Tea
Nutritional value of 100 g of turmeric:
- Protein: 9.6 g
- Carbohydrate: 67.1 g
- Fibre: 22.7 g
- Sugars: 3.2 g
- Glucose: 0.3 g
Turmeric contains a component called curcumin. Curcumin’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial effects significantly boost immunological function. It also facilitates a fast immune response by modulating the proliferation and cellular responsiveness of many types of immune cells. These include T cells which actively prevent harmful substances from entering the body and causing any diseases. It can help with various immunological illnesses like asthma and infections. In addition, it has immunomodulatory properties and is beneficial in arthritis and joint soreness due to its anti-inflammatory qualities.
Here is an easy recipe to prepare 2 cups of turmeric tea:
- Turmeric Powder: 1 tbsp
- Lemon juice: 1 tbsp
- Unpasteurised honey: To taste (optional)
- Water: 4 cups
- Boil water and add turmeric powder to it and stir it nicely.
- Remove the water from the flame and let it cool a bit.
- Once it’s lukewarm, add honey and lemon juice to it for added flavour.
- Drink warm every morning.
- Ginger Soother
Nutritional Value of 100 grams of ginger:
- Water: 78.9 g
- Protein: 1.8 g
- Carbohydrate: 17.8 g
- Fibre: 2 g
- Calcium: 16 mg
As per studies, ginger is high in antibacterial and therapeutic qualities. Consumption of ginger leads to the warming up of our bodies from within. It causes the toxins present in our body to break down. Ginger further clears the lymphatic system. It ultimately strengthens the immunity of our body. Fresh ginger is also helpful in preventing our body from contracting viruses that cause illnesses like cold and cough etc.
Here is an easy recipe to prepare 1 cup of ginger soother:
- Water: 1 cup
- Peeled ginger: 1 tbsp
- Apple cider vinegar: 1 tsp
- Raw honey: 1 tsp
- Cayenne pepper: A pinch
- Put a container full of water on flame and let it boil.
- Once boiled, remove it from the flame and add ginger to it.
- Leave it for 5 minutes, then add apple vinegar, honey and cayenne pepper.
3. Saunf, Cinnamon And Elaichi Tea
A simple recipe to prepare this fantastic tea is:
- Fill a cup with water and place it in a vessel.
- Boil the water and add spices to it.
- Allow steeping for 2-3 minutes after covering the pot with a lid.
- Strain the obtained tea.
- Add honey for taste and drink warm.
All the three spices mentioned are herbs rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants assist the body in fighting the harmful free radicals that significantly affects our immunity. It weakens the cells and results in a slowed immune response from our body’s systems. Additionally, it makes the cell age faster.
The spices are also high in anti-inflammatory qualities. It prevents a lot of diseases like bone soreness etc. Fennel is rich in vitamin C and cardamom in zinc. Vitamin C is known for its antioxidant qualities, boosting the immune system. As per studies, zinc helps the cells repair and grow. Both increase the efficiency of our immune system. Further, you can add honey to the tea to substitute for sugar. Honey naturally suppresses cough causing infections.
4. Ajwain Gud Kadha
A kadha is an Ayurvedic immunity boosting drink. You can prepare it by boiling herbs, roots and spices in water. Boiling them helps you to get the best health benefits. Ajwain Gud Kadha is a fungicide and germicide used for centuries. Ajwain contains thymol, essential oil and acts as a fungicide. It strengthens the cells of our body, enabling them to effectively fight the harmful viruses and germs coming in contact with the body. It is also an active decongestant that helps regulate histamine release in coughs, colds, and asthma.
Here is a simple recipe:
- Ajwain: 1 tsp
- Jaggery: 1 tsp
- Water: 1½ cup
- Take a pan and pour water into it.
- Boil the water and add ajwain and jaggery.
- Strain the water once boiled and serve hot.
5. Masala Chai
Masala chai is known for its ability to boost your immunity. It is due to one of its components, black tea, which contains phenolic compounds and tannins. These compounds attack and prevent germs from entering the body. Additionally, it also has antioxidant properties. These antioxidants keep the cells healthy and away from any harm caused by oxidative stress.
Ginger and tulsi also help you get a robust immune system. Both have antibacterial and therapeutic qualities. Tulsi additionally helps in the formation of red blood cells. Both ginger and tulsi protect the body from infections and harmful pathogens. Furthermore, they suppress nausea too.
- Milk: 1 cup
- Crushed ginger: ½ tsp
- Back tea leaves: 1 tsp
- Cardamom pods: 2
- Tulsi leaves: 3-4
- Whole black peppercorns: 3
- Boil water, and add crushed cardamom, ginger and tulsi leaves.
- Add black tea and keep boiling for 2 minutes. Add milk and reduce heat. Simmer until the flavours have melded, for about 10 minutes.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a mug and enjoy.
Healthy Immune System: Foods to Avoid
Although sodas are the go-to beverage on a hot summer day, this drink negatively affects our body’s immune system. That is because soda contains a high amount of sugar that can suppress our body’s immune response. A weakened immune system results in increased health issues. In addition, regular soda consumption weakens the immune system and makes people lazy. Always avoid dark coloured and flavoured soda variants.
As per studies, alcohol changes the nature of the body’s gut microbiome. This microbiome contains microorganisms that are important for maintaining good health. Additionally, it negatively impacts these microbes’ ability to fight pathogens. Getting rid of these pathogens is essential for preventing different sorts of illnesses and infections. Our body consists of immune cells that line up the intestine and act as a line of defence against harmful pathogens entering the body. Alcohol consumption damages these cells leading to a weakened immune response.
Fried food contains the dietary additive Tert-Butyl Hydroquinone (TBHQ) which lowers the immunological response that the body develops for fighting harmful viruses and bacteria. Our body has two types of T cells. Killer T cells and helper T cells. Helper T cells signal the body to prepare for fighting harmful substances entering the body. Killer T cells kill. Consuming TBHQ high diets slow down the activity of these T cells. As a result, it leads to a delayed immune response making the body prone to infections and other diseases.
Immune Boosting Drinks: Precautions
Although all the drinks mentioned are from naturally derived sources, any potential side effects may occur depending on individual physical differences. While drinking turmeric drinks, the consumption should not exceed too much—excessive turmeric consumption results in thinning of the blood. Overconsumption of beet juice can lead to the formation of kidney stones. Excessive cardamom consumption can lead to problems like mouth sores and bad breath. Therefore, it would help to consume the drinks in a balanced manner.
The immune system is quite complicated and is affected by a range of variables such as stress, age, sleep, and other medical disorders. Pregnant women, elder people and people suffering from severe health conditions face difficulty consuming various food items. At the same time, they are especially in need of nutrients. In such cases, consuming immunity boosting drinks is more convenient. You can also consume supplements to fill dietary deficits in such situations.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What are the signs of a strong immune system?
A: A strong immunity means the body’s immune system is actively working to keep the harmful substances out of our body. There are few signs to know that you have strong immunity and a healthy gut, quick healing of wounds and recovery from other illnesses, not contracting infections easily, sleeping correctly, etc.
Q: How can I boost my immune system fast?
A: There are multiple ways to boost the immunity of your body. A few of them involve eating healthy and nutritious food, avoiding junk foods with a lot of sugar and oil, exercising daily, getting ample sleep, staying hydrated etc.
Q: Which fruit is good for immunity?
A: When it comes to fruits good for immunity, citrus fruits are the preferred choice. They are high in vitamin C, which is rich in antioxidant properties. They keep the cells healthy and fight pathogens and infections. Other fruits having ample amounts of folate, zinc, magnesium etc., are also good. Zinc helps in the recovery and growth of cells. A few examples of such fruits are oranges, lemons, blackberries, avocado, guava etc.
Q: What food lowers immunity?
A: Foods containing high oil and sugar affect our immune capacity. Few foods to avoid to prevent weakened immunity are foods high in omega-6 fats, fried food, processed and charred meats, fast food, foods with high refined carbs. These types of foods slow the immune response of your body.
Q: Is rice good for immunity?
A: Whole grains like rice contain nutrients like magnesium, folate, zinc etc., which are suitable for immune strength. Consuming rice helps boost our immune system because its rich in folate. Folate encourages cell division and growth. It positively affects type T cells responsible for protecting the body from infections.
Q: Are dairy products bad for the immune system?
A: Probiotics, vitamin D, and immunoglobulins are all substances found in milk that help to enhance the immune system and minimise the likelihood of infections. Probiotics are good for gut health and gut flora. It promotes good bacteria in our system and helps eliminate harmful ones.
Q: Does fasting lower immunity?
A: No, in fact, fasting signals the body to produce more white blood cells in our system. It rejuvenates our immune system and makes it actively respond to any viruses and related illnesses. However, it would help if you do fasting safely.