Immune power – A long term health investment
The greatest wealth is good health. Health is a relationship between you and your body. The importance of working on your immunity is now on an all-time high.
The present pandemic era woke many people up to the importance of being prepared and being proactive with their health. This means taking care of yourself before being confronted with a health challenge.
But, did you know that even though your immune system does well on its own there is still a lot you can do to help boost your immune system?
Immune System – The First Line of Defence
Ayurveda not only believes in healing the body but makes sure that the root cause is weeded out so that you stay healthy for a longer duration of time.
Immunity is a concept explained in Ayurveda under multiple topics. The most important ones are Bala or the concept of strength, Vyadhi Kshamathwa or the concept of resistance to illness development, and Ojas or the concept of supreme resilience. The concept of Bala explains the ability of the system to repair and nourish itself and be effective in disease prevention, whereas Vyadhi Kshamatwa is the ability of the immune system to fight against the disease-causing pathogens.
How to keep your immune system healthy?
Your immune system is basically a defence mechanism built into your body that protects against germs, toxins and disease. There are several parts of the human body that make up your immune system.
Good nutrition is essential for supporting a strong immune system in several ways – the following nutrients are key:
- Protein - for the building of antibodies and immune system cells.
- Vitamin A – helps regulate the immune system and protect the body against infections by keeping skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy.
- Vitamin C – helps the body build healthy skin and connective tissue, which helps to block the entry of foreign microbes. Vitamin C-rich foods is known to boost immunity.
- Vitamin E – a powerful antioxidant, protecting cell membranes from damage due to free radicals. Healthy cell membranes help keep foreign microbes out.
- Vitamin D - helps to activate immune cells and properly regulate their function.
- Zinc – necessary for wound healing and for cellular reproduction, which is important in the synthesis of new immune system cells.
- Antioxidants – such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium – help prevent oxidative damage to cells during the immune response to invading pathogens and during infection
Other nutrients, including vitamin B6, folate, selenium, iron, as well as probiotics, may also promote proper immune responses.
5 Ways to Supercharge Your Immunity
- Better Sleep, Better Health
Make sure you get an adequate of 6-8 hours of sleep. Avoid sleeping less or oversleeping.
- Watch Diet
Watch what you eat today, so tomorrow you can keep diseases away.
- Become Mindful
Anxiety and depression are linked to a weakening immune system.
- Stretch yourself to get unstressed
As per studies, people who exercise tend to produce more T-cells needed for immunity than people who do not exercise.
- Stay Hydrated, Stay Healthy
Drink plenty of fluids to give your body the nutrients it needs to fight back.
Credit Your Immune System with Herbs
Get back to the old roots using our age-old herbs and spices.
It’s time to switch to these miraculous solutions that Ayurveda provides and have those wonder concoctions. The most easily accessible of all is, Tulsi, an aromatic leaf that could be your primary line of defence
Since time immemorial, neem has been respected and widely used as an immunity booster. It is very effective in keeping the body safe from attacks by harmful pathogens, thanks to its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Neem can also keep your blood clean .
Turmeric contains curcumin, phytochemical that can help remove toxins from your body and strengthen your immune system to fight off germs and bacteria. Add an extra dash of turmeric to your meals or consume it with milk.
It is the most important herb that is beneficial for treating different health conditions. Ayurveda praises ashwagandha for its longevity and vitality tonic. Ashwagandha is widely recognized for its benefits, and one such benefit is that it modulates and boosts the immune system. It increases the number of pathogen-fighting agents.
Amla’s antibacterial and astringent properties boost one’s immune system. A significant number of health problems including cancer are caused by oxidative damage –when body cells use oxygen, they leave harmful by-products called free radicals behind. Considering amla is a potent antioxidant agent, it can prevent and repair the damage.
‘Kadha’ – A Magical Combination!!
India has a vast treasure of home remedies for various health conditions which are widely used since ancient times. In Kerala, Chukku kappi, Karipatti kappi, Herbal tea etc are widely used to combat conditions like cough, cold and flu. A similar preparation, prevalent mainly in North India, is “Kadha”, a herbal drink made from the following ingredients:
- Tulsi(Holy Basil)leaves
- Black pepper
- Dry ginger
To begin with, take a pan, add two glasses of water in it and allow it to boil on high flame. Crush all ingredients (except basil leaves) in a mortar and pestle. Now, add all those crushed ingredients along with basil leaves to the pan and cook on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes or until the decoction is reduced to half. Next, Strain the mixture in a glass and drizzle few drops (1/2 tsp) of honey before drinking
This preparation is listed among the ‘Ayurvedic Immunity Promoting Measures’ by Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India in the wake of COVID’19 outbreak.
What makes ‘Kadha’ a Immunity Booster?
Tulsi is a proven antimicrobial, antiviral drug which improves digestion, good for respiratory ailments and also acts as a cardiac tonic.
Dry ginger is a proven anti-inflammatory agent which is hot in potency, best for cough, sore throat & respiratory ailments, promotes digestion, relieves anorexia and constipation.
Cinnamon has a diuretic action, is useful in allergic rhinitis, worm infestation, helps to clear the throat and improves the voice
Black pepper is used in asthma and chronic respiratory disorders, recurrent fever, worm infestation, chest congestion and productive cough.
Raisins are beneficial in excessive thirst, fever, burning sensation, hoarseness of voice, cough, and is useful in alcoholism.
Jaggery is easy to digest, promotes digestion, beneficial in urinary tract disorders, anorexia, tiredness, anaemia and reduces phlegm.
Secret Immunity- The Gut Health
Between 70 to 80 per cent of our immunity resides in our gut or digestive system.
The gut plays an integral role in protecting you against pathogens and viruses. Just as your skin protects you against foreign invaders on the outside, your gut lining protects you on the inside.
The key to a stronger immune system is to build up the good bugs in your belly because they act as a defence for the not-so-good invaders.
A healthy body has a healthy gut. The human body, including the gut, skin and other mucosal environments, is colonized by a tremendous number of microorganisms, collectively termed the microbiome.
The microbiome is working to keep the good bacteria growing and fighting, and the rest of the bad and ugly down and out. It is thus important to maintain a healthy gut which helps to prevent impaired digestion that can damage the vital organs like lungs causing respiratory failure.
As we consume a poor diet, take medications, live in a constant state of stress, etc., these cells lose their strength and start to break down. When bad bacteria, fungi, viruses, even food particles infiltrate past the damaged barrier, our bodies immediately start fighting those substances. The constant battle is on with everything that enters your gut. The end result is a constant state of stress in the body, then inflammation leading to poor immune function and chronic symptoms such as poor sleep, nutritional deficiencies, weight gain, and even the start of autoimmune diseases.
This is the reason we should think of supporting rather than ‘boosting’ our immunity.
Recent research has proved that that the gut microbiomes can be controlled with a good food regime and a healthy diet.
Practical tips to improve your gut health
Eat fresh whole foods as they come in nature, nothing in a packet, and a mix of raw and cooked foods
Eat plenty of anti-oxidant-rich foods to neutralise free radicals or destructive molecules that come from both inside and outside the body. These include berries, citrus, cloves, black and green tea, potatoes, dark chocolate.
Eat foods that feed your good bacteria and lower inflammation, including garlic and onions, green bananas, flaxseeds etc
Eat a balance of foods, roughly a third each in terms of energy, of good fat, whole-food carbs and proteins
Reduce chemicals in your food by eating chemical-free or organic where possible and swapping toxic self-care products for natural ones
Find ways to destress and practice them regularly – walk, move but don’t over-exercise, do yoga, develop a breath practice, meditate. Too much stress doesn’t achieve anything.
Don’t wait until you feel the cough or sniffles. Instead, get on the offense and build your immune system today. But for your health and the health of those around you, make sure you’re fully supercharged before you do.