With the world cooped up in their homes for over a month now, there is a pressure building to stagger social distancing rules and eventually issue ‘immunity passports’. Concepts like herd immunity and antibody testing kits are doing the rounds since adaptability seems like the obvious way forward, till a possible vaccine arrives. Amid so much speculation and hypothesis, the only one word that gives hope is Immunity. Although doctors around over the world admit to still grappling with explaining the concept to most people. “There is no rocket science attached to a strong immunity. When we align the way we eat, sleep, think and move with nature, anything that is labelled as a disease or a condition tends to go away,” says Luke Coutinho, Holistic Nutrition and Exercise Physiologist.
TYPES OF IMMUNITY
We are all endowed with three types of immunities. One is innate (or natural) that we are born with. The second kind is adaptive immunity/ protection which develops throughout our lives and the third one is passive or borrowed immunity, something like mother’s milk for a newborn. Yet we let our bodies weaken and fall prey to outside threats. Just as we plant more trees and clean our homes to disinfect our surroundings, we need timely vacuuming and replenishing of our inner system too. Immunity is everything when it comes to prevention and healing, it is the body’s first and last line of defence. Immunity is what empowers the body to fight out germs, bacteria, pathogens and viruses and also recognise and destroy rogue cells and cancer cells.
THINK DEEP, SLEEP DEEP, BREATHE DEEP
How did the world fall prey to one virus? Because we let a sedentary, sun-deprived, stress-driven life take over our body’s defence mechanism. Our immune system can become disrupted if it doesn’t have regular interactions with the natural world. All the more reason why we should be focusing on boosting our immunity right now as we are trapped inside the four walls of our house, away from nature and its healing properties. It is your lifestyle that’s either building a strong immune system or slowly or rapidly destroying it. Recent studies from the University of Reading show that stressful thoughts can actually lower levels of immune antibodies. Incorporate deep breathing or meditation in your morning schedule and feel the change. “Restful sleep is equally important. Scientists believe that we secrete higher levels of cortisol – the hormone that protects the immune system – during sleep than during the day,” says Dr Anjali Hooda, clinical nutritionist.
WORK OUT AND RECOVER
People are using fitness as a way to cope with the crisis. Great! But watch how much you exercise. Every step you take on the walking path or the treadmill actually boosts your white blood cells which make you internally stronger. So, exercise is perfect for strengthening immunity. Yet don’t go overboard. “Over-exercising reduces and weakens immunity. Training without the right nutrition and vitamin levels in the body is dangerous for immunity. Less is more when it comes to exercise,” adds Coutinho. Keep your workouts short and powerful. Jumping exercises, walking, yoga, Pilates are fantastic immunity-boosting exercises, so are short runs and weight lifting. What’s more? “Exercise is the best antioxidant supplement you’ll get!” says Dr Hooda.
FOOD AS MEDICINE
Protein is a must. Research shows that deficiency of high-quality protein can result in depletion of immune cells, not letting the body make enough antibodies. “A person weighing 60 kg needs at least 40 gm protein per day from nuts, pulses and veggies. Homemade dahi is the best bacteria and protein source and a great immunity food,” says Dr Hooda. Get enough vitamin C since it works as a great scavenger in the body, cleaning up all the mess. Vitamin D is essential too. “So many people are deficient in Vitamin D3 and most people think this is just a bone vitamin but it is also a precursor to good immunity and one must aim to have levels of D3 in check,” adds Coutinho.
Probiotics: Keeping a healthy, infection-free gut is very important for a good immunity. So eat lots of gut-friendly yoghurt.
Almonds: A fistful of almonds may help shore up your immune system from the effects of stress. A 60 gram serving carries nearly 50% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin E, which helps maintain a healthy immune system.
Garlic: It offers several antioxidants that may help battle against immune system invaders. It directly attacks bacteria and viruses.
Ghee: It is the most easily digested fat, contains essential fatty acids, and is a great immunity booster. Both milk and ghee should be organic and free of additives.
Turmeric: Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, it is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, detoxifying and amazing for digestive health.