3 Key Ingredients that Fuel Your Immune System

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I think we can all agree that these are trying times. COVID has had an effect on all of us, whether that’s the physical reality of the illness, the emotional effects of loss and grief, or the mental paranoia that comes with trying to get through our day-to-day life.

Here at Elephant Plate, we understand your concerns. And while we can’t provide any magical solutions to protect you from COVID, we can suggest a few key ingredients you can add to your diet to help boost your immune system and lower your risk for infection or other ailments.

(NOTE: these foods are for improving the body to help fight off infections like COVID and should not be interpreted as a replacement for medical advice. A nutritious diet is part of a holistic health approach.)

Tumeric

  • A staple in Indian households, Turmeric, both in powdered and raw form, contains a compound called curcumin. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and prebiotic properties– all great for boosting immunity and promoting healthy bacteria that will stave off infection. Turmeric provides almost 300 nutrients including vitamin C, calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc. The absorption of these nutrients, along with curcumin, increases exponentially with the addition of black pepper.
  • The best way to eat it? Haldi Doodh (or Turmeric Milk) is a great way to start each morning with a boost of curcumin and calcium. Here’s a recipe straight off the web.

Ginger

  • A close relative of turmeric, Ginger is considered to be one of the healthiest spices in the world. It’s active compound is gingerol, which is responsible for not only its taste and fragrance, but also its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Ginger can aid in digestion, reduce nausea, and fight infections/illnesses. Ginger also reduces blood sugars, lowers the risk of heart disease, reduces pain for disabilities like arthritis, helps with weight loss, improves brain function, and much, much more.
  • The best way to eat it? While a simple cup of ginger tea might be enough to start your day with a spark, here are a few more options to spice up your breakfast.

Garlic

  • Do you sense the root vegetable/spice theme? Garlic contains a compound called alliin that turns into allicin when the garlic clove is crushed. Allicin gives the garlic its smell and taste but also further transforms into other sulfur-containing compounds which give garlic its widespread health benefits. The medicinal properties and benefits of garlic include preventing illnesses such as the cold or flu, helping to reduce the symptoms of cold and flu during an infection, reducing blood pressure, lowering the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol levels, improving brain function and protection, detoxifying heavy metals from the body, improving bone strength, increasing energy levels, and more.
  • The best way to eat it? It’s a well known fact that garlic is a delicious and common ingredient used in most households add flavor. Try using more than one clove in each meal. Although some properties of garlic may diminish after cooking, crushing garlic and letting it sit for ten minutes before cooking it helps activate its essential compounds. If you aren’t a fan of garlic, you can also try incorporating an aged garlic supplement into your routine.

These three additions to your diet can help improve your overall health and build up your immune system, preparing it for the world beyond your doorstep. Not only do they bring nutrients but they also add flavor, color, and depth to your meals.

The pandemic has made it hard to reach out for the help you need, but when you can’t rely on a spotter at the gym or a friend to grab a coffee with you, you can always let your food help pick up the slack. So, next time you go grocery shopping, don’t forget your roots.

References:

https://health.ucdavis.edu/good-food/blog/nutrients-to-help-prevent-illness.html
https://www.umms.org/coronavirus/what-to-know/managing-medical-conditions/healthy-habits/boost-immune-system
https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system#shellfish
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17211725/
https://www.sharp.com/health-news/covid-19-when-the-body-overreacts.cfm
https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/raw-turmeric-boost-immunity-benefits-6340737/
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/garlic-fights-colds-and-flu
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-ginger#The-bottom-line
https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/ginger-breakfast#1.-Spice-up-your-morning-cup-of-coffee-
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-garlic#TOC_TITLE_HDR_11
https://www.cookwithmanali.com/golden-milk-masala-haldi-doodh/