Foods to boost immunity…three vitamins which are the best for boosting immunity are vitamin C (without which we are more prone to being sickly), vitamin B6 (vital to supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system)and vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant helping the body fight off infection). Include garlic, ginger, onion, black pepper, Indian gooseberry, herbs, spices, greens, seeds and nuts and do not forget to exercise — the story of immunity is use it or lose it!

By Tara Narayan

WITH so much incessant coronavirus talk in the air almost everywhere naturally someone or another will say, well, if it’s all about getting one’s immune system into shape what should one do or rather…er…drink and eat! It’s also that time of the year when the season changes and I feel like summer heat is coming in full blast making all the copperpods and African tulips bloom away everywhere in Panaji and look even the akash neems are dropping their lovely slender scented matt white flowers to the ground. A friend said, write something about immunity food boosting and so here I go.
In the Indian tradition I’d say invest in one of the rasayan tonics of Baba Ramdev, it’s good; chyvanprash I think is too rich and many in the market are just packed with petha, more pumpkin than aonla which is the Indian gooseberry detailed to be the ultimate vitamin C berry. Vitamin C plays a key and crucial role in keeping our immune system in top gear because it stimulates the production of white blood cells which help fight infection (think coronavirus and also the usual seasonal sniveling colds and mucus-rich coughs, but the coronavirus dry cough is different and comes with high fever, not to be ignored). I must have said this before, green gooseberry; golden turmeric…turmeric water tea, half teaspoon of turmeric (organically good please) mixed with wild honey…put turmeric in your cooking.
WHY? Hey, even out in the countries of the West alternative medical practitioners and they’re a pretty learned lot these days (many from mainstream medicine), are recommending turmeric or rather the curcuminoids in it out of which curcumin is the most important – turmeric is said to be the ultimate anti this and that, that is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, antifungal and yes, anti-cancer. I haven’t started yet but one of these day I’ll be drinking turmeric’s golden tea first thing in the morning. Don’t ask me what’s stopping me right now.
These mornings and pretty much all mornings I’m hooked on regular tea, but I bring to a boil grated ginger and mint leaves in the water before adding in tea leaves and finally as little milk as I can get away with! No sugar, a bit jaggery powder sometimes if I’m making tea for evening tea-time. Can’t do without ginger and mint leaves in my tea and that’s why when I get so upset when I can’t find organic ginger which is creamy yellow and wonderfully aromatically sharp to inhale within – most ginger I buy these days have these fungal grey or bluish patches within and I never know whether to use them in bits and pieces or chuck them. The best advice I get these days from my slew of farmer friends is grow your own ginger and everything else if you want to live!
WHAT else can boost immunity? Lemon juice is vitamin C again. Generally, the idea is to eat more salads of veggies and fruit; out in the countries of the West I imagine it’s the green smoothies which are going places (I wish somebody would make them for me)…immune system booster foods are turmeric, garlic, broccoli, spinach, green tea, ginger, sunflower seeds. Superfoods all for the flu season are also goji berries, chia seeds, macha, kale, blueberries.
Do eat eggs for they’re rich in vitamins and especially Vitamin A, vitamin B-13, selenium which goes into making good vision. Eggs which used to sell at 35 dozen before coronavirus came along is now selling at70 dozen and I hear prices will take another leap up soon because of shortage for some fool reason or another.
Don’t have to spend so much money. Elchi bananas are being quoted as high as 120 dozen but do add banana in your eating in for they’re wondrously rich in potassium and magnesium reported to reduce stroke risk (I read somewhere in some medical text), in any case most of us love banana and it’s there in almost every home poor, not so poor or wealthy. Banana is a super source of vitamin B6 which aids immune system with formation of red blood cells…they’re for keeping our nervous system good and improve protein metabolism. So I would say a banana a day helps stay away from doctors who’re too hard pressed these days when most everyone has got coronavirus on their mind and how to keep it out of their life. IF you’re feeling under the weather I’d say stay with the immunity boosting combo juices of apple, carrot, orange (vitamin A, B06, C, folic acid, zinc), there’s also the spa favorite I once enjoyed of avocado, spinach, mint leaves, lemon juice…truly yummilicious…one may also add judicious portions of pea protein powder, chia seeds, Persian cucumber and make the whole of it in some nut milk like almond milk, caju milk, soybean milk or any of the other non-dairy milks. There is also groundnut milk, rice milk, google a bit and do some homework. We know enough about the industrialization of good old-fashioned dairy milk and its products to really make up one’s mind to avoid them as far as possible with perhaps a few exceptions. Dairy products are known to aggravate a respiratory constitution…I usually buy Goa Dairy’s cow’s milk, pink packet,44 for two half liter packets and the one very good thing I’ve started doing again courtesy coronavirus days – is started making my own home-made curd or dahi, far superior to anything one may buy in plastics! Dahi as a fermented product is an excellent probiotic although kefir too has its charms. I’d say drink a glass of buttermilk after your lunch if you’re a vegetarian, spike it with the juice of a lemon, pinch of sea salt, roasted jeera, pinch hing (optional).
Ohhh…how can I forget, Goa does not traditionally have a dairy milk culture but it has a coconuts culture and in any case coconuts and coconut milk is far superior! After turmeric it’s time we had a healthy respect and appreciation for our coconut tree, live-giving trees. Coconuts are associated with medium chain triglycerides (MCT) – that’s healthy fat proving to reduce inflammation by killing bad bacteria such as candida and yeast, that can overgrow in the intestines and cause trouble. Drink coconut water, drink coconut milk, eat coconut kernel slices, eat grated coconut, lace it in your sabzi of French beans or cluster beans or just about any other sabzi you wish for that delicious wee sweetness. Drink virgin coconut oil! Do coconut oil gargling! Make the most of coconuts, it’s our kalpavriksha tree and that is our wish-fulfilling tree of ambrosial gifts.
I will even lace my phulka with coconut oil but I have to stop wheat products urgently for wheat products are indicted for gluten intolerance, contributes majorly towards inflammatory reactions. It’s all genetic modified wheat anyway or GMO and that’s the problem, in the old days we had honest wheat; damn it even soybeans have become GMO and that’s the sorry story of China where soybeans were once organically cultivated permaculture style, a pity.
LAST but not least of all, drink water, drink hot water but not which is so hot that it burns your tongue and throat tissues! A word about the immune system, it’s really like we have our own private military army to protect us against disease, most gallantly rushes to our rescue the moment we injure ourselves or fall sick…it’s a complex fighting system powered by five liters of blood and lymph.
Lymph is the clear, colorless fluid which drains through all our tissues to remove kachrapati. Blood and lymph are the two vital fluids transporting the elements of the immune system to do its job of keeping us squeaky clean and fighting fit from the inside out. So value your immune system, my friends if you want to live long and happily ever after. The organs of the immune system which provide resistance to infection and toxins are the thymus gland, bone marrow and lymph nodes…and so much more in between. In body beautiful nothing works in isolation.
Our body is a marvelous testimony of unity in diversity, the temple of mind and body, heart and soul. Respect it in all the ways you can and it will reward you, abuse it and you will feel punished sooner or later. With an immune system in perfect prime of health you may happily say go corona, go! I will say cheers here to the fruit of the coconut which in Hindu mythology sometimes represents the human ego…that’s why in the festival of Thaipusam down south and in my old island home of Penang all communities, Indians, Chinese, native Malay Muslims do come together to break coconuts before the chariot of Lord Subramaniam, as if to say…here my Lord, I offer up my ego to you and will henceforth be ego-less at your lotus feet, or some such thing. This is to say anew make the coconut tree your best friend along with other trees you fancy!

Ministry of AYUSH advisory to boost your immunity during coronavirus infection (as endorsed by Prime Minister Modi in his talks)…….

• Drink hot water through the day and drink it lightly, not scalding hot naturally. • Do yogasana, pranayama and meditation for at least 30 minutes daily. • Be sure to use spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander and garlic in your cooking. • Eat a teaspoon of 10 g of chyavanprash every morning. Diabetics may take sugar free chyavanprash. Drink herbal tea/decoction (kadha) once or twice day. Boil tulsi (basil), dalchini (cinnamon), kali miri (black pepper), shunthi (dry ginger) and one munnaka (black raisin). Add jaggery or lemon juice as desired for flavor. Drink 150ml milk to which half a teaspoon of turmeric has been added daily (some folk advice a pinch of black pepper added in too). • Apply sesame oil or coconut oil or ghee every morning and evening in your nostrils. It’s called pratimarsh nasya. • Oil pulling therapy: Take a tablespoon of sesame or coconut oil in the mouth, don’t drink it, swish it around for two or three minutes before draining it out. Rinse mouth with warm water. This can be done once or twice a day. • If you have sore throat or a dry cough do steam inhalation with mint leaves or ajwain seeds in the water. • Add long (clove) powder with jaggery/honey and lick it two or three times a day. Dry cough or sore throat for more days should be seen by a doctor, don’t neglect. • It’s always a good idea to drink tulsi leaves juice/infusion/decoction, guduchi juice/decoction with honey, ginger juice with honey, in the south of India there is a tradition of boiling half teaspoon of jeera (cumin seeds) for cup or two of water and sipping it first thing in the morning after getting up.

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