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8 Vitamins And Minerals That Boost Immunity

The primary function of the immune system in our bodies is to ward off unwanted infections. It has the ability to recognize cells that have the potential to harm our health. B and T lymphocytes are the cells that are responsible for producing responsive actions towards certain microbes based on memory. This is why despite being exposed to several microbes, only a few are able to manifest themselves as diseases. The overall ability of the host to fight pathogens like viruses, toxins, bacteria, etc conferred by the immune system is called immunity. 

One type of immunity is innate immunity. This is a nonspecific immunity type that is imparted by barriers that are present from the time of birth and they include physical (skin, mucous coating), physiological (saliva, tears), and cellular (WBCs and monocytes).

When the immune system is able to recognize pathogens from an infection that occurred earlier in the body, the response is termed as acquired.

Antibodies that are found in the blood give rise to a response which is also called the humoral immune response. This is one of the two types of our “acquired immune response” – antibody-mediated. 

Acquired immunity, unlike innate, is specific to pathogens. It is under the control of the memory. This implies that our body when it encounters a pathogen for the first time, it produces a response called primary response which is usually of low intensity. Subsequent encounter with the same pathogen elicits a highly intensified secondary response.

The second type is called the cell-mediated immune response or cell-mediated immunity (CMI). The T-lymphocytes mediate CMI.

Keeping in mind the importance of regular exercise, a well-maintained diet, and restful sleep, one can also boost and maintain their immunity year-long by having a balanced mix of different vitamins & minerals – whether it be in the form of a supplement (like pills, syrups, etc) or through fruits and vegetables and other nutritious sources like dry-fruits & nuts in which they naturally occur. 

Here are a few nourishing vitamins and minerals that are essential to ensure the unhindered, optimal performance of the immune system.

  1. Vitamin A

Besides promoting vision improvement and having anti-inflammatory properties, this vitamin plays a key role in imparting strength to the development of the immune system. Research reveals that the function of the primary immune response organs requires substantial amounts of this vitamin to function properly. Vitamin A also regulates the function and production of the bone marrow, where the B-lymphocytes are manufactured.

Vitamin A is present abundantly in vegetables such as squash, carrots, collards, etc. It is also present in dairy products, fish, and liver.

  1. Vitamin C

This vitamin is a strong antioxidant that helps scavenge for free radicals and reduces oxidative stress. Additionally,  Vitamin C supports and promotes various functions of the immune system – including the innate and the acquired. It enhances the process of phagocytosis – which is the ability of our WBCs to ingest and digest harmful pathogens. It is also known to help in the proliferation of our fighter B and T lymphocytes.

Vitamin C is present in various citrus fruits like lemons, tangerines, oranges, and kiwis as well as in green leafy vegetables like spinach and bathua.

  1. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is well known for its properties that regulate the overall functioning of the immune system. Research shows that Vitamin E supplements can potentially combat the decrease in cellular immunity due to age and that it also helps in the differentiation of T lymphocytes in the thymus. 

Vitamin C can be found in nuts, seeds, eggs, avocadoes, and pulses.

  1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency leads to the autoimmune tendency – in which our body starts to destroy its own cells.  This vitamin plays a significant role in the decrease of various types of infections by producing a large number of macrophages – cells that have the potential to destroy harmful pathogens.

Fatty fish, cheese, egg yolks and of course, sunlight are some common sources of Vitamin D

  1. Folic Acid

Folate or Vitamin B9 has a direct impact on cell-mediated immunity as well as the development of the primary immunity imparting organ – thymus. It also helps increase the number of T lymphocytes.

Dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, peas, and grains are known to contain high amounts of folic acid.

  1. Iron

Iron is an essential micronutrient that is required for the elementary development of the immune system. Its deficiency inadvertently leads to a weak immune system, thereby making the host susceptible to many infections. 

Iron is available in large amounts in red meats, fish, poultry, soybeans, lentils, and spinach.

  1. Selenium

Apart from initiating and maintaining immunity, this mineral is also responsible for the regulation of any exaggerated immune response.  The deficiency of Selenium leads to the decreased proliferation and activity of immune cells. 

Brazil nuts, fish, shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken, liver, and garlic, are excellent sources of Selenium.

  1. Zinc

Zinc plays a very important role in the function and regulation of cell-mediated immunity. The deficiency of this mineral negatively impacts the growth, proliferation, and activity of both the types of lymphocytes – B & T.

Seeds, nuts, dairy products, eggs, and whole grains are rich sources of zinc.

Bhookha Haathi’s products are enriched with many micronutrients such as vitamins like A, C, D, E, and K, as well as minerals like Calcium, Iodine, Zinc, and Iron.  All of them help maintain and strengthen the ability of the immune system to ward off any unwanted infections and also prevent the onset of many chronic diseases.  

Written by: Jahnabee Adhikari
Jahnabee is a part-time blogger, full-time dog lover. She believes that writing actually possesses the potential to change the world. She can be often found fantasizing about poetry or buried nose-deep in a Sudha Murthy novel.

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12 Indian foods that Boost the Immune System

immunity booster food in india

India is well known for its preparations made with natural, nutrient-rich and immunity-boosting substances. 

Our grandmothers and even their grandmothers have passed down the value and importance of the food we consume to all the generations after them.

To boost our immunity, we need to look no further than our own kitchen – in a battle where disease wages its war upon us, we only need strong immunity as our ammunition! 

Here are a few of the many foods that we can consume to boost our health as a precaution to combat such adverse conditions.

  1. Haldi (Turmeric) 

Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory and immunity-enhancing properties. It contains an aromatic compound called curcumin, which imparts said properties to it. Turmeric is often used as a colouring agent in many Indian dishes such as curries and daal. It is also believed to prevent the flu and some diseases of the heart. 

The best way to consume it is by combining some ground turmeric, pepper, and honey into some warm water and drinking it all at once. Apart from soothing the throat, this also acts as a “flu shot” of sorts.

  1. Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Considered as nature’s best antibiotic by Ayurveda, the tulsi plant has an added benefit of being able to easily grow in household pots. Its antiviral and antibiotic properties provide relief to cold, cough, headaches and fevers. You can chew down on these leaves (after washing them, of course) or soak them in some warm water and sip that.

  1. Amla (Indian Gooseberry)

Amla contains large amounts of Vitamin C and helps increase the body’s natural foreign substance fighting agents – white blood cells. It also helps prevent viral infections like the flu and increases the amount of Calcium in our bodies, eases the throat from cough and balances the secretions of acid in the stomach. Have this fruit dried, powdered, and sprinkled into your morning smoothies or just chopped up with some salt.

  1. Dalcheeni (Cinnamon)

An important component of the widely used garam masala, cinnamon is filled with antioxidants and possesses anti-inflammatory properties. It is a strong immunity booster due to the antifungal and antibacterial substances it contains. Thus, consuming it regularly reduces the risk of infections and diseases. Cinnamon can be added to enhance the flavour of many sweet dishes, into your bowl of oats or cup of tea.

  1. Neem (Azadirachta Indica)

Neem has been continually used by our ancestors for the many properties it possesses – antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, antioxidant, immune upregulation, and anti-snake venom activities. Apart from keeping infections at bay, it also purifies the blood and rids it of all its toxins.

It can be consumed crushed in a glass of water.

  1. Jamun (Black Plum)

Although this fruit has an unexpectedly bold flavour that is not appreciated by many, it contains blood pressure and blood sugar regulators. It also reduces the occurrence of cough, cold and fever. Combine the pulp of this fruit with some honey, and stir this mixture into a glass full of water.

  1. Citrus fruits 

Many different varieties of citrus fruits such as Nagpur oranges, Mausambi, Kinnow, etc. are available during different times of the year throughout India. These citrus fruits are a stronghold of Vitamin C, which increases the white blood cell count in our body, thereby strengthening the immunity. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is not stored in our body, but instead, gets washed out with urine. To keep the Vitamin C levels in our body constant, we should incorporate a little bit of these citrus fruits into our diets regularly.

  1. Lehsun (Garlic)

Garlic is an important aromatic component added to dishes of almost every cuisine worldwide. Its immunity-boosting properties come from “allicin”, which is a sulfur-containing compound. Other than commonly being found in its cooked form, the benefits of garlic can also be derived from garlic capsules or pills.

  1. Palak (Spinach)

Apart from Vitamin C, spinach leaves are considered a superfood because they also contain antioxidants and beta-carotene. All of these substances increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. It is healthiest when eaten raw (to preserve all its components from breaking down) or lightly tossed in some olive oil.

  1. Dahi (Yoghurt)

Most variants of yoghurt contain live and active bacterial cultures that help improve the immune system’s ability to fight diseases. Some yoghurts can also be fortified with Vitamin D, which also boosts the body’s natural defence mechanism. When opting to buy yoghurt, look for plain ones and avoid those loaded with artificial sweeteners.

  1. Adrak (Ginger)

A lot of people turn to ginger to relieve the unwanted symptoms of cold, such as a sore throat. Apart from boosting our immunity, it also contains properties to decrease inflammation in our bodies. Grate it, combine the juice with some honey and take a spoonful of it to relieve congestion and irritation from cough and cold.

  1. Badam (Almonds)

       Almonds contain Vitamin E, which is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is also the key to a strong immune system. They are packed with antioxidants and healthy fats. Almonds   

can be had soaked in some water, peeled or with some honey                         

Bhookha Haathi’s 100% natural products based on dried fruits, nuts, herbs, spices, seeds, grains & honey are a great source of immunity-boosting substances that our regular diets otherwise are deficient of. Sourced directly from farmers & producers Bhookha Haathi Replace range of proprietary health food products celebrate pure, powerful, healing and health-promoting ingredients that are without any preservatives, added colours or artificial flavours. 

Written by: Jahnabee Adhikari
Jahnabee is a part-time blogger, full-time dog lover. She believes that writing actually possesses the potential to change the world. She can be often found fantasizing about poetry or buried nose-deep in a Sudha Murthy novel.

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Building Immunity in our Community

It is often during times of widespread panic and global scare caused by a particularly infectious virus, that we are reminded of the absolute importance of practising and maintaining good hygiene and building our immunity. Pathogens such as viruses can rarely ever be defeated with a simple “cure” as they keep modifying their genetic material in accordance with their hosts. So, until a viable precautionary vaccine is invented, strengthening our immunity remains to be our safest bet.

The difference between an epidemic and a pandemic is that the former is a disease or an outbreak that spreads uncontrollably and when there is a sudden increase in the number of infected cases. A pandemic affects a wider geographical area and infects a large number of people. Often, the virus is allowed to spread quickly because humans have little or no immunity to combat it. 

Amid such circumstances, there are various steps that we, as a community, can take.

We should make sure that those who are more susceptible to the threats of a virus (those with weak immunity) are kept indoors as frequently as possible – the elderly, expectant mothers and the infants. 

We can additionally make home-cooked meals, try our best to ensure that the working populace works from home, give a few days of paid leave to our domestic help as they are more exposed to such viruses because of their daily travel and usage of crowded public transport. We should regulate and monitor the entry and exit of those responsible for making deliveries.

We should ensure to keep ourselves and our surroundings sanitized, avoid touching our hands and face, and remember to similarly keep our pets and their paws clean. We should limit going outside and gathering in groups and only step out for daily essentials.

Our innate immunity is imparted to us from the B&T lymphocytes in our bodies. Their manufacture is co-dependent on the physiological processes that are being undertaken in our bodies. For example, if our stress levels are higher than usual, our immunity invariably takes a toll therefore, keeping a positive outlook helps.

In today’s day and age, where social media plays a big role in news dissemination, we should make sure that we do not believe each and every story we get through these media and get into panic mode. We should rely on information provided by relevant authorities in this regard and follow their guidelines.

We should aim to get enough amount of quality sleep to regulate our hormones and strengthen our immunity by encouraging the thymus to release more pathogen-fighting lymphocytes. 

India is a country that is massively wealthy in terms of the natural resources it owns, like plants that have the potential to enhance and strengthen our immunity. Various plants, herbs and spices like neem, tulsi, saffron, turmeric, pepper, cinnamon, star anise, ginger, and garlic contain highly effective phytochemicals and antioxidants that are used by the plants themselves to prevent microbial action. These natural ways to boost immunity are highly beneficial and help prevent many bacterial and viral infections.

Vitamin D from sunlight, enriched foods or as a supplement is essential to build immunity as it helps produce antimicrobial proteins in our bodies. We can also include foods rich in Vitamin C such as citrus fruits and kiwis and zinc-rich foods such as dry-fruits, seeds & nuts that are needed for the body’s immune system to work properly. Honey is another great source of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that is highly beneficial for our immune system.

Bhookha Haathi’s 100% natural products based on dried fruits, nuts, herbs, spices, seeds, grains & honey are great supplements to boost the immune system that our regular diets otherwise are deficient of. Sourced directly from farmers & producers Bhookha Haathi Replace range of proprietary health food products celebrate pure, powerful, healing and health-promoting ingredients that are without any preservatives, added colours or artificial flavours.

Written by: Jahnabee Adhikari
Jahnabee is a part-time blogger, full-time dog lover. She believes that writing actually possesses the potential to change the world. She can be often found fantasizing about poetry or buried nose-deep in a Sudha Murthy novel.