By now, you must have understood the importance of a strong immune system. The pandemic has shown us that despite the advancements in modern medicines, good immunity still remains the “drug of choice”. But, how do you achieve it?
Strong immunity results from your conscious efforts that are put in to protect your health. Ayurveda suggests healthy diets  and good lifestyle routines to boost your body’s natural defenses.
Let’s take a closer look at the foods Ayurveda suggests to strengthen the Rasa dhatu and Oja, thereby keeping up your immune system functions.
Which Foods Boost The Immune System?
As per Ayurveda, maintaining the balance of tridoshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha is the way to nurture and maintain a healthy immune system. Your diet plays a predominant role in helping you attain equilibrium in your doshas.
Below are some powerful immune-boosting foods that you can include in your daily meals based on your dosha levels.
Turmeric  is hot in potency. It is light, clears Kapha, promotes healthy Pitta, and kindles the metabolic fire. Its action on the metabolism makes it a valued drug in the treatment of Diabetes Mellitus and other kinds of Meha (urinary disorders). It is a revered detoxifier, described as ‘Vishodhini and Vishanut’ in Ayurvedic texts. It reduces inflammation and is excellent for wound healing, bone health, eyes, and skin.
How To Consume Turmeric Daily?
- You can take a pinch of turmeric along with a tablespoon of fresh aloe vera leaf-gel as the first thing in the morning. This helps relieve bowels, regulate hormones, and boosts metabolism.
- Take ¼ tsp turmeric powder plus a spoonful of amla powder early in the morning with warm water. This boosts metabolism and helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
- Add ¼ tsp of turmeric powder to a fresh paste of neem leaves and consume it in the morning. It helps to relieve allergies, clears the blood, and promotes skin health.
- Warm turmeric milk with powdered black pepper is very comforting, boosts bone health, and relieves inflammation when taken at bedtime.
Turmeric is a warm spice, and hence you should use it in moderation by Pitta dominants, especially in warmer seasons.
Amla is said to possess all tastes except Lavana (Salty). It is Tridoshahara but is frequently chosen for Pitta dosha correction as it is cool in potency. Amla is listed under the ten best drugs that prevent aging by Acharya Charak. It is excellent for eyes, skin, hair, and digestion. It boosts metabolism and is frequently prescribed in Ayurveda for treating diabetes and promoting heart health. It is a Rasayana that helps in building immunity and delaying aging.
How To Consume Amla Daily?
- Take a tsp of amla powder with lukewarm honey water first thing in the morning. This promotes healthy bowel movement, aids weight loss, boosts metabolism, and prevents acid reflux in your body throughout the day.
- Mix a spoonful of amla with warm ghee and take it at bedtime. This helps in improving hair health, preventing greying, and strengthening your eyesight.
- A juice prepared by crushing 4-5 fresh amlas with added ginger and wet turmeric in little amounts can help you with allergies, asthma. It also promotes lung health.
Amla may trigger dryness sometimes and can also cause increased bowel movements. Make sure you maintain good hydration in such an event and also reduce the daily dosage.
Garlic is a hot herb and balances the Kapha and Vata dosha. It increases Pitta and should be used with caution in hot months and by the people with hot temperament. Garlic  has all the tastes except sour. It prevents aging and is valued for its positive effect on Vata dosha. Garlic promotes skin health and digestion.
How To Consume Garlic Daily?
- Boil a crushed pod of garlic in a mix of ½ cup of milk and ½ cup of water. Continue to boil it till it becomes half. Strain it and add a little amount of sugar to it. Take this as the first thing in the morning. This helps you keep up the bone health and reduces undigested toxins (Ama) from your system.
- Boil a pod of garlic along with a spoon of powdered methi seeds in a mix of half cup of water and half cup of milk. Continue boiling it till half a cup remains. Take this with ½ spoon of castor oil and a little sugar. This drink, when taken early in the morning, acts as an excellent anti-inflammatory. It improves bone health, digests toxins, and aids gut health.
- Crush a couple of garlic pods and form a paste. This can be taken with warm water. This can help you relieve cough and congestions.
Garlic is a very hot spice and should be taken with caution by women who suffer from heavy menses, and people who frequently suffer from hyperacidity.
4. Green Tea
Green tea is definitely not on the list of traditional immunity boosters but it makes a great health drink. The effect can be ascribed to its Pitta and Kapha allaying attributes. It is cool in potency and is Kashaya (Astringent) - Tikta (Bitter) dominant. According to Ayurveda, astringent and bitter tastes clear the toxins from the blood, lower the circulating fats, and clear the channels in your body.
How To Consume Green Tea Daily?
- Take green tea with a dash of lemon and honey. However, honey should be added only when the tea temperature is low enough for one to drink. This can aid gut health, boost metabolism, and benefit the liver.
- Green tea with added tulsi, ginger, cinnamon, and a sweetener of choice, is a great comfort drink for the respiratory system.
Excessive consumption of green tea can trigger Vata, making the body dry and nervous. Green tea has a significant amount of caffeine and one should be wary of its over-consumption.
5. Tri-katu, Tri-sugandhi And Triphala
These three herb combos are very important in Ayurveda to activate your system.
It is a combination of dry ginger, black pepper, and Long pepper in equal proportions. Trikatu is excellent for Vata-Kapha dominants. It cuts through the phlegm, improves sluggish metabolism while boosting your lung health. Pippali (long pepper) present in trikatu is a wonder drug to enhance your respiratory health.
B. Tri Sugandhi
It is a combination of cinnamon, cardamom, and bay leaf in equal proportions. Tri sugandhi boosts metabolism without the heating effect exerted by other spices. This is excellent for Pitta dominants who do not tolerate hot spices well. Tri sugandhi clears the blood, improves respiratory health, and has a positive effect on the blood lipid levels in your body.
Triphala is a combination of amla, baheda, and haritaki in equal proportions. Though triphala is a popular Ayurvedic medicine known mostly for its effect on the bowel movement, this combination is definitely a lot more than that. These three herbs are excellent Rasayana, which prevents diseases and aging. Triphala works well for Kapha - Pitta dominants. It boosts metabolism, improves eyesight, prevents greying, and promotes hair growth.
How To Include These Herb Combos In Your Diet?
- Add a pinch of trikatu to hot soups, sprinkle it over rice with warm ghee to take it with curds/buttermilk.
- You can take a teaspoonful of trikatu with honey or take it with warm water in an event of a respiratory tract infection.
- A teaspoonful of trikatu when taken with warm water aids digestion.
- Add a pinch of tri sugandhi to curd/buttermilk. Trisugandhi imparts a deep flavor to hot soups and you can also sprinkle it on rice with warm ghee.
- Take a spoon of tri sugandhi and lick it with honey. This helps to relieve throat irritation.
- Add a pinch of tri sugandhi to a cup of hot green tea.
- Take a spoon of triphala with warm water early in the morning. It aids weight loss, promotes gut health, and gives an excellent boost to the metabolism.
- You can take a spoon of triphala and lick it with honey or ghee at bedtime to aid eyesight and promote healthy hair growth.
Moringa leaves and legumes (drumsticks) are rich in important minerals and vitamins. It strengthens your immune system, prevents aging, and aids digestion. Moringa leaves balance your hormone levels and are excellent for women suffering from menstrual irregularities. Drum sticks balance the Kapha and Vata dosha in your body. They are excellent for hair, bones, and joints.
How to Consume Moringa Daily?
- Moringa powder is commonly available. You can take it as a health supplement.
- Moringa leaf curry is palatable and makes an interesting addition to your regular diet.
- You can add Moringa leaves to dals and sambars.
- Drumsticks can be simply boiled in water. They taste great just as is.
- Drumsticks are traditionally added to dals and sambhars.
Generally, Ayurveda suggests avoiding green leafy vegetables during Varsha Ritu (Monsoon). However, drumsticks can be eaten all through the year.
Gourds are loaded with health benefits. Apart from being fiber-rich, gourds when cooked right, are tasty too. Gourds improve your digestive health, help manage blood lipid and glucose levels, boost metabolism, and are rich in the daily recommended doses of vitamins and minerals. Gourds should also be chosen as a part of the diet, especially when you are unwell. They are very light to digest and hence give the body a much-needed break from digestion while busy fighting off a disease.
How To Consume Gourds Daily?
- Curried bottle, ridge, pointed and bitter gourds  taste great with rotis as well as rice.
- You can add them to soups and dals.
- Gourds also make an interesting addition to healthy green smoothies
Gourds are best eaten when they are in season. Different gourds can be chosen based on the season and geographical location.
Astrologically, moong represents mercury, the planet of good health, memory, and reason. It is simple, tasty, and versatile. Moong is one of the Swasthahita dravya (health-promoting foods as per Ayurveda). Although all proteins help build immunity, moong is different. The moong proteins are simple to digest and are readily available for your body to utilize.
How To Consume Moong Daily?
- You can have moong in your daily meals in the form of khichdi, dal, and sambar.
- Curry made of green moong is the best combination with rotis.
- You can also have sprouted moong in the morning.
9. Whole Grains
Grains like barley, oats, wheat, rice, etc. were some of the first domesticated crops in the history of human agriculture. Whole grains are rich in vitamins and minerals along with dietary fiber. They can help manage obesity, heart diseases, and type 2 diabetes, and associated metabolic disorders. They are also rich in antioxidants.
Beta-glucans, a type of fiber found in whole grains (especially in oats and barley), help your body excrete the bile acids, which are cholesterol derived. Whole grains also help regulate the blood sugar levels of your body.
Whole Grains with the bran intact, is a humble back to basic food that promotes healthy immune system functions unless one is allergic to the grain proteins.
How to consume whole grains daily?
- Coarse flour of whole grains can be used to make bread and rotis
- You can boil Daliya (broken grains) with spices and vegetables.
Buttermilk is astringent and sour in taste and has hot potency. Famously known as 'takra' in Sanskrit, buttermilk is widely used in Ayurvedic treatments to treat inflammation, gastrointestinal disorders, digestive disorders, spleen disorders, lack of appetite, and anemia. It is very useful in mitigating excessive Kapha and Vata doshas, especially during winters.
How To Consume Buttermilk Daily?
- Take 2 cups of buttermilk with 15 gms of jaggery added to it to relieve yourself from work exhaustion.
- You can take buttermilk with added ginger, pepper, and long pepper along with rock salt in little amounts to treat digestive ailments.
- You can drink buttermilk with a pinch of cumin seeds and rock salt added to it.
Vedix Tip: Consider using rock salt in a limited amount of 5grams a day in your meals. You may use iodized salt rarely. But, avoid using non-iodized salt completely.
Foods That Weaken The Immune System
1. Caffeinated Drinks
Though caffeine in moderation can benefit your immunity, too much intake of caffeine can lower the ability of your immune system to fight against infections and to eliminate the damaged or abnormal cells from your body. High caffeine consumption through coffees and soft drinks can result in weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, acne accompanied by immunity suppression.
2. Sugary Foods And Drinks
Consuming excessive sugar can put the white blood cells (immunity cells) in your body to a temporary coma, which may last for several hours after consumption. So, if you are having sugary foods and drinks several times a day, then it takes a toll on the normal functioning of your immune system.
In food industries, the combination of table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup(HFCS) is a primary choice of sweetener as it has better palatability, shelf-life, and competitive price. And, this resulted in an additional 30% increase in processed sugar consumption, making it more difficult for our body to regulate blood glucose levels.
3. Processed Foods
Processed and baked foods  trigger the growth of wrong bacteria and yeast in your gut, disrupting its natural microbiome. Also, the unhealthy fats in processed foods activate inflammation in your body tissues, which impairs the functionalities of your immune system.
4. Refined Carbohydrates
The whole food complex carbohydrates are processed and stripped of their nutrients to produce refined carbohydrates such as white rice, white sugar, refined flours from grains, etc. These carbs are converted into glucose easily and rapidly, which in turn cause an unbalanced gut microbiome. Consuming refined carbohydrates regularly leads to chronic ailments such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, retinopathy, neuropathy, digestive disorders, etc.
5. Alcoholic Beverages
Consuming alcohol kills healthy gut bacteria, which helps in controlling infections. Also, it triggers inflammation in your gut and intestines, which in turn compromise your immunity. Alcohol has adverse effects on all types of immune cells throughout your body.
Ayurvedic Diet & Immunity Tips
The rules of the diet are as important as the foods chosen.
A. Move your bowels regularly. If you are not regular, use triphala, warm honey, and lemon water
B. Never take water with your meals. Meals are exclusive of hydration. No water for 30 minutes before or after your meal
C. Rest well. Get adequate sleep
D. Don’t snack. Eat exclusively at mealtimes
E. Cut down on sugars (especially refined), processed foods, alcohol, etc. which lowers your immunity
F. Eat light for dinner. Make lunch the biggest meal of the day
G. The cooked food needs to be consumed within 3-4 hours of cooking
H. Stay away from over spicy, over-fired, stale, reheated, overcooked, microwaved, or frozen foods
The Last Word
Immunity boosting foods have become all the more important these days. Eating right, sleeping well, and working out are the basics of achieving strong immunity. Choose your foods wisely and understand which food is working for your body and which one is not. Besides, make sure to practice healthy lifestyle habits to achieve maximum results.
At Vedix, we customize Ayurvedic capsules to boost your immunity while bringing equilibrium to your imbalanced doshas.Know Your Dosha Now