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Boost your immunity with these foods

From chia seeds to citrus fruit, here are nine foods that can help strengthen your immune system

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Aditi Bharade on 16 Mar 2020

The Straits Times

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Citrus fruit and shellfish, along with other tasty foods, can help boost immunity, thus increasing one’s resistance to viral infections.

 

The Straits Times spoke to three nutritionists – Dr Naras Lapsys, 54, consultant dietitian at The Wellness Clinic; Ms Pooja Vig, 49, dietitian at The Nutrition Clinic; and Ms Sheeba Majmudar, 46, a dietitian – for their views.

 

According to them, here are nine food items you should incorporate into your diet to strengthen your immune system.

 

1 SUNFLOWER SEEDS

 

Vitamin E, which is required for immune cells to function normally, can be found in sunflower seeds, which are perfect to snack on. Throw in some almonds and hazelnuts, too, for a vitamin E-rich afternoon snack.

 

2 CITRUS FRUIT

 

Citrus fruit are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, which help "reduce the severity and duration of respiratory-tract infections", says Dr Lapsys. It helps that oranges, lemons and grapefruit are delicious as well as nutritious. Papayas, red capsicums and tomatoes are also good sources of vitamin C.

 

3 SWEET POTATOES

 

Foods rich in beta-carotene protect the body from infections. They include sweet potatoes, carrots, apricots and rock melon. So switch out your regular mashed potatoes for sweet potatoes the next time you have guests over.

 

4 SALMON

 

While you can get vitamin D on your sunlit morning stroll, eating salmon can also give you the boost you need to keep your immune system in order. Reduce your susceptibility to infections by eating more salmon, egg yolk and tuna, all of which are great sources of vitamin D.

 

Citrus fruit and shellfish, along with other tasty foods, can help boost immunity, thus increasing one's resistance to viral infections.

 

The Straits Times spoke to three nutritionists - Dr Naras Lapsys, 54, consultant dietitian at The Wellness Clinic; Ms Pooja Vig, 49, dietitian at The Nutrition Clinic; and Ms Sheeba Majmudar, 46, a dietitian - for their views.

 

According to them, here are nine food items you should incorporate into your diet to strengthen your immune system.

 

5 SHELLFISH

 

Ms Majmudar says zinc-rich foods help to "deactivate viruses and bacteria", thus keeping the body functioning optimally. This is good news for seafood lovers, as shellfish such as crayfish, lobsters, oysters and mussels are high in zinc. For vegetarians, legumes are also a good source of zinc.

 

6 PICKLED VEGETABLES

 

Dr Lapsys suggests eating probiotic-rich pickled vegetables. "As 80 per cent of our immune system is located in our gut, it is necessary to maintain its health," he says. Probiotic-rich food does just that, so increase your intake of miso, tempeh and kimchi.

 

7 CHIA SEEDS

 

The health of the gut microbiome also depends on one's intake of fibre-rich foods. Ms Vig recommends a "fibre-based diet", which includes chia seeds and oats, to maintain a healthy gut and, by consequence, a well-oiled immune system. Almonds and barley are also great fibre-rich options to incorporate into your diet.

 

8 TURMERIC

 

A staple in Indian cooking, turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Dishes with turmeric include Indian dal and Thai yellow curry, so head out for Indian or Thai food and load up on that beneficial spice.

 

9 COCONUT WATER

 

Ms Majmudar says that for the immune system to function optimally, the body needs to be properly hydrated. Coconut water is the perfect refreshing drink as it contains five types of electrolytes: sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorous and magnesium.

 

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

 

 

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