The natural way to strengthen your immune system is by consuming healthy immune-boosting foods in the regular diet. The immune system has complex cells that have the innate ability to defend our body against bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. Though these cells can ward off microorganisms naturally, it is necessary to boost our immunity by incorporating a healthier lifestyle.
As we age, our immune response weakens, and the risk of contracting infectious diseases speeds up. Eating a diet rich in micronutrients such as zinc, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, iron, Vit B6 and Vit C can improve our immune response. It is best to take these nutrients from food sources than artificial supplements.
Here’s a list of immune-boosting foods you can add to your diet and a delicious immune-boosting meal plan for a day.
Foods That Naturally Boost Your Immune System:
Lemon: Being one of the excellent sources of Vitamin C, Lemons can strengthen the immune system. One whole raw lemon has 30mg of vitamin C and an average adult must consume 65-90 mg of vitamin C per day.
Ginger: Gingerol is a bioactive component that has proven benefits in lowering the risk of contracting infections. A teaspoon of ginger juice in the regular diet can improve your immunity.
Yogurt: Yogurt is a budget-friendly source of calcium, Vitamin D, and cobalamin. Probiotics or fermented foods play a key role in maintaining gut health and strengthening the body to fight against infections.
Green Beans: These are rich in zinc, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. One serve of green beans can help you meet 10% daily requirements of these minerals.
Chickpeas: Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) helps in the production of red blood cells and the prevention of chronic diseases. Nutritionists recommend 1.5 mg of this vitamin per day for adults. One serve of chickpeas meets 40% of daily Vitamin B6 requirements.
Turmeric: The world-renowned bioactive component; Curcumin has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Eggs: It has disease-fighting nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin. Eggs are a powerhouse of Vitamin D, B6, and B12. One egg can meet 22% of selenium requirements per day.
1-Day Meal Plan with Immune-Boosting Foods
An ideal meal plan for adults can range between 1500-2000 calories per day. This immune-boosting meal plan is 1500 calories with balanced nutritional content.
Carbohydrate: Rice and wheat flour are excellent sources of carbohydrates.
Protein: Chickpeas and Paneer are ideal sources of protein.
Fiber: Green beans, cucumber slices, and blueberry are rich in fiber.
Fat: Mozzarella cheese and paneer are rich in healthy fat.
Quick Recipes to Strengthen Your Immune System
Breakfast: Egg Cheese Quesadilla
Lunch: Lemon Rice, Roti, Chickpeas Curry, Green Beans Stir-fry, Ginger Lemon juice
Dinner: Chapati, Paneer Curry, Cucumber Slices, Greek Yogurt with Blueberry, Turmeric Milk
The entire meal plan requires 15 minutes of meal prep and 60 minutes of cooking time.
Overnight Meal Prep (15 mins):
- Soak Chickpeas (Garbanzo) beans in water overnight on the kitchen counter.
- Place Paneer cubes immersed in water on the top shelf of the fridge.
- Mix wheat flour dough and store it in an air-tight container on the top shelf of the fridge.
- Puree onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, turmeric, chili powder, salt, cumin powder and store it in a box on the middle shelf of the fridge.
- Pound peanuts, sesame seeds, chili powder, and salt in a mortar and pestle. Store the dry powder on the pantry shelf.
On-The-Day Meal Prep (60 mins):
- Wash and soak rice as the first thing in the morning.
- Strain chickpeas and boil it with the onion-tomato mixture in the pressure cooker for 6 whistles. Release the pressure and fry the mixture in hot oil for 10 mins. Add salt and chat masala. Simmer until oil oozes from the sides. You can do this in a slow cooker or instant pot overnight.
- Place the wheat flour dough on the countertop to come to room temperature.
- Pressure cook rice and cool it down.
- Chop green beans into finger-size pieces. Stir-fry in coconut oil until cooked. Season with peanut powder and adjust the salt.
- Boil onion-tomato mixture in a pan for 5 mins. Add in half a cup of milk and simmer it. Finally, mix paneer pieces into the boiling curry and adjust the seasoning.
- Heat sesame oil in a pan. Add mustard, cumin, gram dal, curry leaves, green chili, ginger, and asafetida. Mix turmeric, salt and lemon juice according to the ratio of rice.
- Make chapati for lunch and dinner in the morning. Store them in an insulated casserole.
Beat two eggs with salt and pepper and make an omelet in a pan. Place a store-bought tortilla or roti over it and fry for 2 mins. Spread pizza sauce or sauteed paneer curry or chickpea curry and top it with mozzarella sauce. Close the quesadilla and fry for 2 mins until the cheese melts. Enjoy your breakfast hot!
Make a soothing glass of warm ginger and lemon tea as your midmorning drink. You can prepare it in the morning and keep it in a glass bottle in the fridge to serve cold.
Enjoy a scrumptious lunch with every element prepped.
Toast the roti for a minute on the pan and reheat paneer curry if you like it hot. Chop cucumber slices. Mix Greek yogurt with raw honey and top it with blueberry and nuts of your choice. Enjoy as dessert after dinner.
Boil milk with a pinch of turmeric and 1 tsp of brown sugar. Have this in the night to have a goodnight’s sleep.
Check out our tasty 4 protein rich recipes with one vada batter.