10 handy foods to boost immunity

Is there too much of “sniff sniff huchh huchh” in the air around you? Registered Dietitian Preethi Rahul gives a list of 10 handy foods that can help to boost your family’s immunity.


Being one of the most easily and commonly available probiotic, curd helps to improve gut function. Bifidobacterium lactis- the probiotic strain in yogurt, is known to stimulate the immune response. Cellular immunity declines as you age. Researchers in New Zealand showed that including curd as a part of daily diet in the elderly subjects had a great immune-boosting effect. More research is being carried out on the effects of S.Bulgaricus and L. Thermophilus (the regular bacteria present in curd) on immunity. Probiotic curd is known to increase the secretion of immunoglobulin A, T- lymphocytes and natural killer cells. Curd is one of the most liked and consumed foods globally.

Green tea

Epigalo catechin gallate dense green tea is an excellent anti-oxidant. There are other anti-oxidant compounds like theanine, flavonoids etc. that are available plentifully in green tea. These compounds fight against the free radicals which are generated from atmospheric pollution, thus improving immunity. They also help to keep a check on stress levels which also hampers the immune system.


Allicin, ajoene and thiosulfinates present in garlic help to prevent and fight infections. Its effect has been compared to Neosporin in healing wounds and it has been found that garlic has an equivalent effect of Neosporin. Diallyl sulfides in garlic help to fight the viruses and bacteria and can improve iron metabolism in the body by increasing production of ferroportin (an iron transporter protein). Garlic has long been associated with lowering the risk of cardiac ailments.


Turmeric is a spice which is used in almost every Indian household. It is also used in Spanish and South East Asian cookery. Curcumin – the magic compound in turmeric not only imparts the typical yellow colour but is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants known to mankind. The anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin helps to fight common cold, flu as well as helps in the prevention of arthritis. Turmeric is also known to prevent cancer particular of the colon.


Salmons are nature’s baskets of omega-3-fatty acids whose role in immunity is exceptional. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish can help in the production of white blood cells and interferon gamma leucocytes that can fight against bacteria effectively. Fish is also an excellent source of selenium – a trace mineral that is known to improve immuno-competence. The cytokines produced from selenium have anti-viral effects.


Most of the vegetables belonging to the cruciferous family are well known for their role in improving immunity. Being dense in key anti-oxidant vitamins – A, C and E, Broccoli is definitely worth a try. The anti-oxidants in broccoli helps to keep the skin healthy – which is the first line of your defence. Glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiian, and glucobrassicin are glucosinolates phytonutrients that improve body’s detox process and thus immunity. Broccoli should not be overheated or overcooked as it will lose all its vital nutrients.


Ginger is a pungent and spicy herb. It is an excellent decongestant and antihistamine, which makes it effective against cold and flu. Ginger can block the effects of prostaglandin can lead to prevention of migraines.The gingerols and shogaols present in ginger, stimulate our body to produce more digestive juices which in turn help in better digestion. Improved digestion means faster emptying of toxic wastes out of the body resulting in improved immunity.


Barley is rich in both soluble and insoluble fibres. Beta-glucan – one of the soluble fibres present in barley has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-oxidant properties making barley an excellent probiotic. Barley water is a well-known detox agent as it induces diuresis flushing out toxic substances from the body promoting weight loss as well, during the process.


Mushrooms are one of the richest sources of selenium. Selenium influences both the innate and the acquired immune systems. The innate immune system includes barriers to infection and nonspecific effector cells such as macrophages. Both the T and B lymphocytes form the major effector cells of the acquired system that mature with exposure to immune challenges. Selenium-deficient white blood cells are less able to proliferate in response to infection produced due to entry of foreign substances in the body. Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms are the specific mushrooms known to boost immunity. Being rich in B-complex vitamins, mushrooms also have the ability to synthesize larger number of WBC’s

Bell peppers

Capsicum is one of the richest sources of vitamin C – almost 5 times more than citrus fruits. They come in a variety of hues like red, yellow and green indicating the presence of carotenoids. Role of vitamin C in preventing cold and flu is very well established. Vitamin C also helps in increasing iron absorption, which can in turn reduce fatigue and improve immunity. Including plenty of citrus fruits can also increase your daily dose of vitamin C. Vitamin C help to main healthy pH in the body which does not favour the growth of harmful bacteria that require an acidic environment. Vitamin C also helps in the production of white blood cells, interferon and antibodies.

Sleep, stress free environment, healthy diet and exercise is your mantra to remain fit and healthy always!

Preethi Rahul
Registered Dietitian