It is not an understatement to say that along with words like quarantine and lockdown, immunity was also one of 2020’s buzz words. Immunity simply means protection and in the context of the human body, refers to its capacity to fight infections by resisting the action of ‘foreign’ bodies or toxins, thereby protecting the body.
Immunity is built over a period of time through lifestyle and dietary changes. Nourishing your body with the right foods, exercising, keeping your mind stress free and getting enough sleep, are just some of the ways you can help keep your body healthy and strong.
Indian Kitchen: a treasure house for immunity boosting foods
There are several foods that help build immunity in the body and with seasonal changes around the corner, it is important to include them in your diet to keep protected against colds, coughs and minor infections of the throat.
Citrus fruits, whole nuts, leafy greens and fermented foods like yogurt work wonders in nourishing the immune system.
It’s no secret that the Indian kitchen is replete with foods that boost immunity. The Indian pantry is full of indigenous ingredients used for centuries to keep the body nourished and healthy. Traditional recipes, basically the ones grandma always recommended – “haldi doodh” (popularly called turmeric latte in the west), dry fruit ladoos made from ghee, or even the amala (gooseberry) candies you pop into your mouth to fight nausea, are some of the commonly known home remedies to boost internal health.
While the benefits of pepper, ginger, garlic and turmeric are well known, other commonly used ingredients like cinnamon, cumin, honey, and jaggery also have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial properties that help keep the body healthy.
Here’s a look at the benefits of these spices:
- Cinnamon: a delectable spice we are all familiar with, cinnamon is highly effective against bacterial and fungal infections and is known to have positive effects on heart health as well as blood sugar levels.
- Coriander seeds (dhania): are rich in vitamin A and C, effective in curing coughs and colds, and also aids digestion.
- Cumin seeds (jeera): a commonly used spice, jeera has several anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties and is known to aid in weight loss as well improve digestive health.
- Carom (ajwain): is yet another elixir for gut health, flatulence and helps aid weight loss.
- Fennel seeds (saunf): has several nutrients like vitamin C, calcium, potassium etc. and helps aid digestion.
- Jaggery is rich in minerals like iron and zinc and is a good source of energy. It is a blood purifier, cleanses the body and is excellent for liver and intestinal health.
- Honey has healing properties and is a good source of antioxidants apart from having positive effects on cholesterol and blood pressure levels. It is used to heal coughs, colds and sore throats and builds immunity.
Here are some home remedies that are effective in protecting your body against common ailments.
Home-made mixture for cough, cold and sore throat
- Ginger powder: 1 tbsp or 2 tbsp freshly extracted ginger juice
- Cinnamon powder: 1 tsp
- Turmeric: 1 tsp
- Pepper: 1 tsp
- Honey: 2-3 tbsp
- Mix the above powders thoroughly and then add honey. Mix well. Consume 2-3 times a day.
Home-made Kashayam (herbal tea) that helps build immunity
Dry roast the below ingredients and blend into a fine powder:
- Coriander seeds: 2 tbsp
- Jeera seeds: 1 tbsp
- Fennel seeds: 2 tsp
- Carom seeds: 2 tsp
- Peppercorns: 1 tsp
You can increase the quantities and store the powder in an airtight jar.
Take 2 tsp of Kashayam, add it to a glass of hot milk. Add 1-2 tsp of jaggery per your taste and consume hot. This Kashayam is a perfect panacea if you are down with body ache, sore throat or slight temperature.
Herbal teas to prepare at home using greens that are a powerhouse of nutrients.
- Lemon grass: replete with antioxidants, this fragrant shrub has eugenol which is a stress reliever. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels and is rich in vitamin A, C and potassium.
- Rosemary: again, an excellent herb known for its aromatic flavor, rosemary is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and known to improve blood circulation. Excellent for the skin and hair, it is also a great stress reliever and helps improve one’s mood.
- Brahmi: known as the herb of grace, brahmi is intrinsic to all Ayurvedic medicines and is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Apart from being good for the hair and skin, it is a memory booster, effective for reducing fever and is known for its positive effects on patients suffering from diseases like Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
For preparing the tea, just brew 3-4 leaves of brahmi (or 1 small strand of Lemon grass or 1 sprig in case of rosemary) in water for about five minutes. You can add a tsp of pepper, elaichi powder and some jaggery (or honey) for taste. Mix well and drink when hot.
Natural mixture for inhalation
Nothing compares to the relief rendered by a quick steam inhalation when you are down with a flu, stuffy nose or headache. Consider using some ingredients mentioned above to prepare a healthy mix for inhalation. Take a thick bottom vessel, add sufficient water and add in a tsp of turmeric powder along with one or more of any of the following ingredients:
- 2-3 used lemon peels left over after extracting the juice
- Peel of half an orange
- Peel of a small piece of ginger
- 3-4 strands of lemon grass
- a sprig of rosemary
Boil the water thoroughly, cover your head with a towel and inhale for at least 2 minutes.
Rashmi Gopal Rao is a freelance writer from Bangalore, India. She mainly writes on lifestyle, culture, food, and decor. She has been published in Indian national newspapers and international publications like NatGeo Traveller.
Photo by Ratul Ghosh on Unsplash
Photo by Marion Botella on Unsplash