As we continue to brave the pandemic, especially the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the focus remains on health and immunity. As opposed to buying things from pharmacies, people are once again relying on home remedies and items found in the kitchen.
It is no secret that Indian kitchens have a plethora of products that can boost immunity and help the body recover faster from illnesses. Vandana Juneja, lifestyle expert coach at GOQii says our kitchens are full of all sorts of ingredients that are readily available and very effective in boosting our immunity. She lists them here; read on.
“The must-have spices include turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, ginger, garlic, etc. They are used in everyday cooking, and we can consume them in dals, vegetables, curries, soups, etc., or boil various concoctions and drink them as herbal tea,” says Juneja.
* Turmeric — Rich in curcumin, the spice is the best immunity-boosting ingredient, besides being useful in many inflammatory conditions. It can be added to various dishes, but the best way to consume it is in hot milk or mixing it with lemon and water as a drink.
* Ginger — Ginger is considered the best immunity booster in Ayurveda; it cures many digestive disorders. It can be consumed raw or added to various recipes and masala tea.
* Garlic — This is the most popular ingredient used in Indian dishes, due to its numerous medicinal properties. Best way to consume it is to have one clove of garlic (slightly crushed) on an empty stomach with water. Ideal time is early morning.
* Cinnamon — It has anti-viral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. The ingredient also has antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects which protects your body from diseases. It also helps in reducing hypertension, improving the gut, lowering the risk of type-2 diabetes and blood sugar. One can use the sticks or powder and mix in tea, dishes, warm water or desserts.
* Black pepper — Black pepper is an important spice owing to its antioxidant, antimicrobial and gastro-protective properties. You can add it to curd, sprinkle over salads, or in tea.
* Cumin — Cumin contains compounds called flavonoids that work as antioxidants, and have shown benefits in preventing cancer, heart disease and blood pressure. It is also beneficial in weight loss, has antibacterial properties and improves digestion. It can be used as seasoning as whole seeds or powder. Soaking one tsp overnight and having it in the morning is beneficial.
* Tulsi — It has purifying properties that help in fighting respiratory diseases, fever and such infections by building one’s natural immunity. You can consume the leaves or make a juice and mix it with honey to get relief from cough, cold and mild fever.
* Curry leaves — Curry leaves are high in antioxidants and rich source of vitamins and minerals like calcium and iron. They can be added as whole leaves to dishes or in chutneys; drink the juice of leaves or boil them and consume the water.
* Mint leaves — Mint leaves are a good source of several nutrients, especially vitamin A and antioxidants. They are used in chutneys, sauces, tea, or detox water.
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, which helps in increased production of white blood cells which help fight infections. Oranges, sweet lime, lemon, guava are examples. Apart from these, amla/Indian gooseberry has the highest vitamin C content. Consume amla as a whole, extract its juice or add it to chutneys.
Seasonal vegetables are great sources of vitamins and minerals, especially greens like spinach, fenugreek leaves, mustard leaves, etc., which are rich in vitamin C. They are also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune system.
The nutrients in dairy foods play an important role in immunity, and every household consumes these products on a daily basis — milk, curd, ghee, paneer, cheese, etc. They are rich in vitamins A and D, protein, zinc and selenium and help in boosting immunity. Vegans can replace them with almond milk, soya milk, oat milk , coconut milk, etc.
Nuts and seeds are rich in essential immunity-boosting nutrients like vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, some B vitamins and minerals, and should be consumed on a daily basis. Best way is to soak them for 5-6 hours and then consume, or dry-roast or even make a trail mix and consume during snack time.