While modern medicine has come far, many health experts agree that our lifestyle impacts our health, and our body’s, ability to fight diseases. A nutritious, diversified, and satiating diet is an element of key importance when developing a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle. Essentially, food is more than just flavour or ‘fuel’—by paying attention to what we eat, we’re giving our bodies the love and care they deserve.
Food For A Healthy Immune System
Here’s a list of immunity-boosting superfoods that need to be staples in your cooking.
Athalya (Jackfruit Seeds)
The oft-ignored jackfruit seeds are high in fibre, protein, vitamin B1 and B2, minerals, and antioxidants. According to celebrity fitness expert, Rujuta Diwekar, this ‘forgotten food’ can easily be brought into everyday diets as sabzi, curry or roasted with seasoning. Rich in starch, jackfruit seeds are filling and can help with insulin sensitivity.
Every ‘diet expert’ has promoted olive oil as the healthiest choice. However, mustard oil is a strong underrated contender. Kacchi Ghani, or unrefined oil, is another Rujuta Diwekar recommendation, and mustard oil is an easily available option. Mustard oil is heart-friendly, full of essential fatty acids, and is low in saturated fats. It’s chemical-free production process makes it a prime addition to your pantry.
How often have you been told to shun desserts? Chocolate has unfortunately been villainized as the devil of a healthy life. But, dark chocolate, though an indulgent treat, is rich in iron, magnesium, fibre and has comparatively less sugar than milk chocolate, along with more cacao. Its most nutritious quality is that it’s full of important antioxidants. If consumed in moderation, dark chocolate is a delicious and nutritious dessert that will satisfy your sweet tooth.
They say the best things come in small packages, and when it comes to pumpkin seeds, only a small amount carries a lot of health benefits. Easily added to salads or eaten as roasted snacks with tea, pumpkin seeds have healthy fats, are one of the best sources of magnesium (which is important for your bone and heart health) and are also found to be beneficial in controlling blood sugar levels.
Methi is a herb integral to Ayurveda, and for good reason. Along with adding flavour, methi helps with digestion, cholesterol, and contains various vitamins, protein, zinc and other essential nutrients. It has been used in traditional Asian medical traditions to treat skin conditions and is also a popular choice for those looking to detoxify their systems.
Kala Chana (Black Chickpea)
Kala Chana is an incredible source of protein, iron, and vitamins. Along with its immunity supplementing benefits, Kala Chana also promotes hair health and develops muscle mass.
Kombucha, kimchi and wine have two things in common—they’re made using the ancient technique of fermentation and they have proven health benefits. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics that improve immune, gut and heart functions. Some foods’ health benefits are improved when consumed in their fermented form. Those with digestive issues like IBS or even with a common cold turn to fermented foods to get better faster and develop resistance.
Lifestyle coach Aiswarya Pandiyan cannot stress enough that lemongrass is a necessary herb. From antifungal and antimicrobial properties to its wealth of antioxidants and iron, lemongrass is a versatile herb. In fact, its use extends outside the kitchen, as a mosquito repellent and in aromatherapy. Lemongrass is also a popular diuretic, which helps your body get rid of excess sodium.
Aiswarya Pandiyan also recommends red bananas. Rich in Vitamin A, prebiotics, and low in calories, red bananas are delicious and gluten-free and can be added to your daily smoothie.
Mulethi (Licorice Root)
Mulethi is an antiseptic, anti-diabetic and is also shown to be beneficial for those dealing with respiratory issues. A harsh cold or bloating can be relieved with mulethi. The best part? It’s incorporated in skincare because of its anti-inflammatory features and the fact that it’s an emollient.
Dates are great for boosting your energy levels, clearing out digestive systems, and are also an excellent natural sweetener. Because of their fructose content, many use it as an alternative to white sugar in baking and while making smoothies. They are a quick and easy snack when paired with nuts, like walnuts, and seeds.
The very humble hing often found at the back of spice cabinets, is one of India’s healthiest superfoods. Strongly advocated for by nutritionist Pooja Makhija, hing is antiviral, antiflatulent, and helps ease the pain of headaches. Makhija suggests having one-fourth to half a teaspoon of hing with half a teaspoon of hot ghee or oil on an empty stomach for a month to see its healthy effects.
Banana stems have a deliciously juicy texture and a fibrous content so high that they help deal with digestive problems, ulcers, kidney stones, and may also help with acne. Easily incorporated into Indian recipes such as a sabzi, curry or even a chutney, banana stems are perfect for India’s tropical climate.