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Immune yourself in this weather

health-and-fitness Updated: Mar 12, 2012 01:39 IST
Aishwarya Sati
Aishwarya Sati
Hindustan Times
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Have you been feeling under the weather lately? Even though it’s time to welcome spring, many of us are feeling low due to certain seasonal illnesses. It’s the change in the weather that gives us a running nose, an irritating cough and fever. The simplest way to battle illness is by changing your diet and introducing certain ingredients that help boost immunity.

Dr Purvish Parikh, medical advisor, Medico.in says, “With the change in season, the environment changes and the human body also reacts to this differently. Stomach ailments and flu are common during the onset of summer. Hence, it is necessary to alter your diet to make your body’s immunity stronger.”

Here’s what you must include in your diet for a better immune system:

Foods that boost immunity
Garlic
Nutritionist Prachi Agarwal says, “Garlic is a powerful immune booster. It increases the production of infection fighting white blood cells, and destroys antibodies. Allicin and sulphides present in it boost your immune system and also help clear out toxins.”

Mushrooms

Mushroom
Mushrooms are immensely helpful in increasing white blood cells in the body. They help fight diseases and infections as they contain beta glucans which are one of the best immune enhancing substances. They provide rich nutrition to the body and help keep foreign substances away.

Yoghurt
Your body needs certain bacteria to function properly. Lactobacillus acidophilus present in yoghurt is an example of good bacteria. “It produces lactic acid in your gut, which helps you digest food and break down complex compounds into usable bits,” says Agarwal. So, frozen yoghurt, or a salad with a yoghurt based dressing are all healthy meal ideas.

Carrot
Carrots contain loads of beta carotene, which is a powerful phytonutrient that boosts the immune system’s production of infection-fighting cells and T cells. So make sure to include the vegetable in your diet.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables

FruitsIt’s important to eat freshfruits and vegetables. Fitness expert Kiran Bajaj Sawhney says, "Fruits kept in cold storage are not only expensive but also have less nutritional value. Citrus fruits too help fight cold and seasonal allergies."

What to avoid
Sugar
Eating too much sugar in different forms such as sweetened drinks, sugar coated cereals, dessert and jams leads to rapid weight gain. It also means increased insulin levels that lower your immunity to fight diseases. It also reduces body’s natural tendency to fight infection.

High fat food
High fat content in processed foods and meat not only reduce body’s natural immunity but also trigger inflammation which occurs when the body is under a bacteria/virus attack.

Recipes that make your immune system strong
Chicken and vegetable saute

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients
1 cup shredded chicken breasts
2, diced carrots
1 medium, quartered onion
1 red bell pepper, cut into squares
1/2 cup, cauliflower pieces
1 cut 1/2 inch long celery
1 cut to equal sizes yellow squash
Salt to taste
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp basil
1 tsp olive oil

Method
Heat oil in a non-stick pan over medium high until the oil is shimmering. Add the garlic, vegetables, shredded chicken and salt and cook stirring frequently until they are browned and tender. Most vegetables and chicken breasts take 10-15 minutes to get cooked. Sprinkle with fresh herbs to serve.

Banana smoothie
Ingredients
1 cup yoghurt
1 chopped banana
pinch of cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp coco powder
1/2 tsp honey (optional)

Hand-tossed Salad


Method


Take the yogurt and chopped banana and put it in the blender. You can add the honey if you like. Add the coco powder and blend it till the banana and yogurt have a firm, semi-thick consistency.Now pour the liquid in a glass, sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon for flavour and serve.You can also chill the drink if you want.

Tossed salad
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: nil
Serves: 4

Ingredients
1 head lettuce
1/2 cup, chopped celery
2, quartered, tomatoes
1/3 cup, chopped parsley
1/3 cup, grated carrot
3 tsp, chopped shallots
For dressing:
1/2 tsp salt
A pinch fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp vinegar
1 clove garlic

Method
Combine salt, pepper, mustard, oil, vinegar and crushed garlic in a screw topped jar and shake well to blend the flavours. Wash and drain lettuce and chill well. Combine all the vegetables in a serving dish. Remove the crushed garlic clove from the dressing and pour the dressing over the salad. Toss well together and serve immediately.