Every year Malaysia gets hit by the flu season. Flu season peaks from October to January and from April to August, so it is during this time that your family’s immunity needs all the help they can get. We are constantly exposed to bacteria and viruses, and more so now, with children back in schools. Although having a strong immunity includes healthy habits like getting enough rest and exercising, parents can still give their family an added boost by offering these nutrient-rich foods.
Get your Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Why should you load up on Omega-3 Fatty acids? The reason for this is simple. DHA is one of the three main components in omega-3 fatty acids, and it plays a vital role in boosting the activity of white blood cells, which in turn strengthens immunity. And because our bodies are unable to produce DHA in significant amounts, we have no choice but to consume it in our diets or take supplements. But DHA also does a whole lot of other stuff that is good for your body as well. It can help to improve body functions, including gene expression, inter-and intracellular communication and inflammatory response, which is directly linked to immune development and immune response. DHA also plays a crucial role in producing molecules that repair and protects for healthy immune function.
You don’t always need to lean towards imported fish like salmon and mackerel to meet your daily intake needs. Even if our local fish may not get as much exposure, fishes like Terubok, Kembong, Haruan, Patin, and Keli are great options.
Otherwise, there’s also Flaxseed, Chia seeds and Walnuts if you prefer plant-based options.
While it is true that the average Malaysian would enjoy a good bbq slash hot pot now and then, the reason for such a copious amount of lean meat swimming in a flavoursome broth is Zinc. Even before COVID hit, Vitamin C and zinc have been known to stave off or reduce the severity of colds and flu.
Zinc is a mineral that is abundant in meats like oysters, poultry, seafood, beef, and lamb. It is important in many ways because it helps keep the immune system strong, especially with wound healing, while supporting normal growth. Even certain types of immune cells cannot function without Zinc – that’s how significant a role this mineral plays! Children under the age of 12 need an average of 3 – 8mg of Zinc a day, while adults require a minimum of 8mg per day.
Don’t worry if you are vegetarian because you can still fill your diet with zinc-rich foods like beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, walnuts, cashew nuts, chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, wholemeal bread and quinoa.
Rejoice! Finally, something that everyone loves! Believe it or not, this indulgent treat can strengthen our antibodies to fend off diseases because it has magnesium. Imagine that your immune system comprises various components that all work together to repel intruders like bacteria and viruses. Magnesium is what helps white blood cells bind to invaders so that they can be removed from the body. It also helps improve immune functions and prevent antibodies from being impaired while strengthening the body with its anti-inflammatory benefits.
Even if dark chocolate might be too heaty and overwhelming for some, you can still meet your daily requirements by consuming pumpkin seeds, spinach, avocados, brown rice, or supplements.
Citrus and Dark Leafy Greens
This vitamin that can be found in citrus fruits and dark leafy greens need no further introduction. Needless to say, we already know how Vitamin C can protect the body against a myriad of health issues and support the immune system. This powerful antioxidant can be found in oranges, grapefruits, lemons, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli, leafy greens like kale and bell peppers.
Unfortunately, Vitamin C is heat-sensitive, and cooking can reduce its potency in your food. So when possible, enjoy it raw to enjoy maximum benefits. Just be sure to wash it really well to get rid of harmful germs like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria.
Just as well, we can attain Vitamin C from fruits, but otherwise, You can always hide kale in fruit smoothies or add a slice of lemon into some honey water for the kids to enjoy on a hot day.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a fantastic source of Selenium and Vitamin E, both of which also play a role in boosting your immunity. Vitamin E can be found in nuts like pistachios, almonds and walnuts, and because it is an antioxidant, it helps your immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses.
On the other hand, Selenium is a mineral that can regulate thyroid hormones and protect cell membranes, proteins, as well as DNA from oxidation and inflammation. By working together, Selenium and Vitamin E can reduce free radicals generated in the cell, which in turn ensures overall better health for you and your family.
You can try incorporating nuts and seeds into salads, and if your kids are not fans of salads, you can always add them into homemade bread, cookies, granolas or enjoy them as is, as a quick snack. Sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts and pecans are all great options. Just remember that a little goes a long way. because while they are healthy, they are packed with calories. Consume in moderation so that it does not contribute to your weight gain
Garlic and Onions
We all know garlic and onions are staple aromatics that adds a deep, rounded flavour and aroma to any dish. But did you know that they are also great for you? For example, Garlic has allicin with antiviral and antibacterial properties, which is excellent for boosting immunity. Onions also have antiviral properties, but in addition, it also contains quercetin which regulates the body’s histamine response. While they are best eaten raw, not many find them palatable unless they are cooked.
So the next time you feel slightly under the weather, eat them, don’t leave them by your bed in hopes that they will absorb the bacteria around you. That myth about onions by the bed has long been busted!
Last but not least, let’s not forget about gut health! As of late, more and more experts are starting to think that a huge proportion of the immune system actually starts in your gastrointestinal tract. Hence we have products like probiotics that caters to gut health.
While you can choose to consume probiotics in supplement form, yoghurt is actually a great option because it is packed with probiotics and calcium. Yoghurt, when taken daily in moderate amounts, can help increase the production of antibodies that fight off viruses. Instead of leaning towards the more commercial options that are usually full of sugar, a plain, unsweetened yoghurt would be healthier for you and your family.
So there you have it, some of the immune-boosting food for you and your family. Whether you are trying to protect them from the flu or keep covid at bay, it is still a wise decision to keep everyone’s immunity in good shape.