World Health Day: 6 easiest practices to boost immunity as COVID-19 numbers rise – Times Now
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Darwin’s concept of the ‘survival of the fittest’ rings louder even more with the ongoing pandemic as the COVID-19 cases surges. The medical community has risen to the challenge and have made fair progress with the inoculation drives, however with the various viral strains mutating, very reliable treatment is yet to be found. Looking back to a year since the lockdowns were imposed the world over; it has been observed that while there were several that succumbed to the deadly disease, the rate of recovery was witnessed with the pool of people with good immune response who were able to fight off the infection. Unquestionably, the global pandemic has made us realise why it is important to pay attention to our immune system and keep it strong. Much like it is crucial to put on a mask, taking care of our immunity is a reminder we need to keep giving ourselves.
How do we build up our immunity? These simple practices, according to Dr Mitali Madhusmita, senior Ayurveda physician with The Art of Living’s Sri Sri Tattva Panchakarma, can help you put together a good defence.
1. Load up on Antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that reduce oxidative stress and fight the free radicals that otherwise attack and destroy healthy cells in the body. Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially the seasonal ones are packed with these fighters. Loading up on citrus fruits is a simple way to replenish the vitamin C levels in your body and it is the most effective antioxidant when it comes to fighting off respiratory tract infections. Include fruits like guava, pomegranate and berries in your diet. Vitamin E found in almonds, avocados, hazelnuts helps to fight against bacterial and viral infections and increases the concentration of antibodies in addition to improving the production of natural killer cells in the immune system. Beta carotene found in carrots, sweet potatoes and red and yellow peppers, and flavonoids found in berries, bananas, nuts, beans, tomatoes are some of the most effective antioxidants when it comes to boosting immunity.
2. Herbs and Spices
Traditional spices like turmeric, ginger and black pepper are well known for their excellent immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties. Spices such as cloves, cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, with their rich aroma not only enhance the taste of your dishes but also prevent you from a number of health problems; they have excellent anti-microbial properties and are crammed with antioxidants that promote your immune system. Power-packed herbs like Tulsi (Holy Basil) and Giloy(Tinospora Cordifolia) work wonders on your immune response; chewing on 5-6 leaves of Tulsi on an empty stomach is one of the most effective ways to boost your immunity. Giloy is known to increase platelet counts.
3. Increasing the Quality of Sleep
Studies indicate that lack of sleep affects the immune system. The quality of sleep determines the strength of your immune system, the ability to fight diseases and the level of faster recovery. Sleep is an essential period of rest that the body requires for healing. Improving the quality of sleep by practising ‘switch off’, ie getting off gadgets an hour before bedtime, dimming the lights and sounds are effective.
4. Increasing the Prana in our Bodies
Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and dairy products have a good amount of Prana (life energy); such foods help in strengthening the immune system. On the other hand, frozen, stored and processed food is devoid of nutrients, therefore, locally grown fruits and vegetables are always a wiser and healthier option than the imported ones.
Freshly prepared food has a good level of Prana, whereas stale food produces Ama (sticky toxins). Other practices such as reheating the food that has been prepared for the previous meal increases the trans-fat in the food which indirectly brings your immunity down. Just as a salad needs to be eaten fresh, treat each meal with the same rule.
Consuming undercooked food overloads the digestive system. Digesting this meal burns more energy and in turn hampering immunity whereas overcooking burns the essential micronutrients; it is important to maintain a healthy balance while cooking food.
5. Avoid Overloading the Digestive System
Consume a full meal only if the previous meal is fully digested, else it is better to limit yourself to lighter options like clear vegetable soup, tender coconut water, or a few slices of cucumber.
The proper functioning of the immune system depends on various functions, the proper functioning of the liver, proper digestion and assimilation of food. Munching, especially when not hungry, taxes the liver, making it sluggish. Eating anything after 10 pm also puts an unnecessary load on the liver and leads to the accumulation of Ama. Nighttime is meant for rest and one must have a good night’s sleep for good immunity. Inadequate or disturbed sleep also affects immune health.
6. Sun, Fresh Air and Exercise
Sunlight is the ultimate source of energy for all beings on earth. Not only does it help maintain Vitamin D levels in our body which is essential for the immune system to function effectively, but also helps in regulating the secretion of various hormones in our body which are important for a healthy sleep-wake cycle and a balanced mental and physical health. It is important to spend 15-20 minutes preferably in the morning sun and inhale the fresh morning air. Pranayama (breathing exercises) play an important role in improving not only our lung capacity and mental functioning but also as studies show, enhances our body’s ability to fight against infections.
Along with these six essential practises, it is also important to continue staying safe with the basic practices of wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and use of sanitizers.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.