Boost your immunity the natural way
Do you ever wonder as to why you are the first one to be affected by the slightest change in weather or food binge at the local chaat stall and most of your friends seem to be doing fine?
Our immunity is not only a result of good genetics, but a lot depends on stress, nutrition, exercise and medication. The immune system is like the defense force of the body, which protects it from external toxins, chemicals, bacteria and viruses as well as fights back and protects us from any trouble that brews within. Even the most health conscious people fall ill. However, by fine tuning certain aspects of our lifestyle we can strengthen the immunity and protect ourselves from premature aging and degenerative diseases.
Fight Back with Food
A host of recent studies have shown a positive correlation between diet and immunity. Like most of our organs, the basic composition of immune bodies is protein. Protein can be supplied through dairy products, lean meat, fish and pulses. Amongst dairy products, curd and yoghurt has particularly been in the limelight for it’s ability to enhance immune function. The gut-freindly bacteria present in curds enhances the intestinal cells’ ability to release immunoglobulins and protect against various infections. Though our forefathers lacked the scientific knowledge, they were definitely right about having at least one source of fermented milk in each meal. Plant foods are naturally gifted with a host of immune modulating compounds. A recent German study compared the white cells of vegetarians and meat eaters. The study added upon the piling evidence that white cells in vegetarians are more potent against cancer as compared to non-vegetarians. For the immune system to work properly, it requires a whole range of anti-oxidant nutrients like vitamin C, E, carotenoids, zinc, iron, copper and selenium working in concert with each other. While no single food contains all these nutrients, some foods are concentrated sources of these nutrients. Vitamin C, the ultimate immune booster is found in many foods other than citrus foods like chilies, guava, tomato and melons. It increases the production of infection fighting white blood cells and cell surface coating interferon which prevents entry of viruses. The key defender against free radical attack, vitamin E, revs up the infection fighting ability and body’s protective mechanisms against infection attack. It prevents premature aging and clogging of arteries thereby arresting the progression of heart disease and stroke. Foods like almonds, peanuts, vegetable oils, cashewnuts etc. are rich sources. However, it’s preferable to rely on vitamin E supplements as these foods are calorie dense. Carotenoids in combination with vitamin C and E make the ultimate threesome of immune boosters. Through foods like watermelon, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and mangoes the production of natural killer cells and T-lymphocyte increases and thereby preventing growth of cancerous cells. Zinc is another valuable mineral associated with immunity. Abundant in wheat bran, jowar, bajra, shellfish, peanuts, nuts and oilseeds, it modulates the immune system and protects from cold and cough. Often our food may not provide sufficient amount of all essential nutrients, therefore it would be wise to include a multivitamin supplement as a part of healthy diet.
Several studies have identified a host of super foods which if had on daily basis keep you fit and raring. Garlic is amongst these top foods. Loaded with sulphur compounds, it prevents the oxidation of cholesterol and increases the potency of macrophages (natural killer cells). Our common kitchen herbs and spices like fennel, turmeric, ginger, chilies, cloves and cinnamon work wonders against infections. Bypass that coffee and tea for the healthier green tea. A range of researches have proven that catechins in green tea are known to prevent proliferation of cancer cells.
Lifestyle and Immunity
How you treat your body affects how healthy you are. Lack of rest, exercise and sleep compromises immune function and increase your susceptibility to ailments. Light to moderate exercises strengthens your body and keeps the illnesses away. Adequate sleep and rest is equally important. One must try and get at least eight hours of sleep (to rejuvenate ourselves). To keep one’s stress levels under check, incorporate relaxing techniques like meditation, tai chi or pranayam into your daily routine. Remember that each gram of wrong food that goes into your system substitutes for one gram of immune enhancing nutrient that you would otherwise take. Immunity building is a process and not a fixed state. It needs to be worked upon consistently.
This information is for any person who does not want to fall sick. You have to work at your immune system just like you work on your career, sports, family, relationships, etc. Those who apply themselves early to a disciplined lifestyle generally acquire a better immune system than those who don’t!
ANJALI MUKERJEE, Nutritionist, Founder Director-Health Total, having health centers
in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune -manages obesity & other health related disorders.
Contact numbers: 1800 8918131/+91 86575 61727
For further information, Visit www.health-total.com