Human being has the ancestral origin from a eukaryotic bacterium which then got multiplied into numerous bacterial cells and hence we could also be called a bacterial mega genome. Our body has evolved from a single cell called as zygote and each zygotic cell are unique in their structure. This cell then multiplies and forms 120 trillion human cells which also hosts 360 trillion bacterial cells. The human body is such an intricate being and has to be treated as a whole and not in parts. This is why the “wholesome” concept used in traditional medicine has gained so much popularity.
Our immune system consists of a very complex and intricate mechanism to help us prevent infections of any sort. We have two different types of immunity…
The immediate response of our immune system is activated by the innate immunity which is always on to protect us. These are mediated by the barriers present in the skin and epithelial lining, such as gut bacteria, mucus, stomach acids etc. and also the blood cells such as the phagocytic cells of our body and the complement system.
On the other hand, the adaptive immunity is usually a delayed response which is mediated by specific antibodies and other cells of our immune system such as the B and T lymphocytes.
Our innate immunity usually does the signalling for the adaptive immunity to kick off whenever there is a threat from any infections. A kid’s immunity is also majorly built by the bacteria they ingest right from their passing through the birth canal, from the breastfeeding and thereafter.
Many researches have demonstrated that our genes could be influenced by certain environmental factors including our lifestyle. Unfortunately, our mind-set in the present times is that every ‘ill’ has to have a ‘pill’ or some form of surgical interventions to bring the body back to normal. However, the truth is that there is no single pill for every ill, but there is an ill that follows every pill.
The current practice of unnecessary use of antibiotics for every cough and cold has proven this fact time and again.
Many times, we forget the fact that the human system has developed from a consciousness as viewed by Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Yoga and other traditional beliefs and not only based on a reductionist theory as science advocates. Every human body has an ingrained doctor that we call an immune system. Science today has conveniently forgotten this inherent capacity of the human body to heal by itself.
Eastern drugless philosophies such as Ayurveda, Naturopathy and yoga systems are built to fit into this “wholesome” health model proposed by evolutionary biologists globally these days.The factual understanding is that: The human physiology is a self-correcting system that does not tolerate outside interventions in minor illness.
While we try to fight against the pandemic of Corona Virus – COVID 19 and its various mutations, there is something we could all do; That is to boost the immunity in a normal body, such as that our body becomes less susceptible to this virus. A virus is made up of a core of genetic material such as DNA or RNA and is surrounded by a protein coating.
These are non-living and these can only multiply in a living body/host body when attached to a living cell. In other words, these are parasites that lack the ability to thrive and reproduce outside a host cell.
Our inability to produce antibodies against these invading viruses and to prevent their multiplication provide a favourable situation for the disease to grow and develop. The presence of pre-existing illnesses (co-morbid conditions) that further lowers immunity, such as liver disease, kidney diseases, diabetes etc. and old age makes us more susceptible to illness; This is where boosting our immunity plays a major role in staying healthy.
The main entry of germs into the body are nose, mouth, eyes or skin. Maintaining a strict discipline in one’s personal hygiene helps to prevent our immune system to be overwhelmed by the entry of such disease agents. As the saying goes
“a seed can grow only in a fertile soil; infectious agents can grow and multiply in the human body if we provide a favourable medium”
However, the right measures taken to look after one’s personal hygiene is important and crucial at these times. This includes hand hygiene, regular showers and other hygiene practices to be followed while sneezing, coughing etc. when in groups. Avoid socialisation when you are not well. This can help you become less susceptible to any infections due to accidental exposure.
Our gut contains more than 100 million neurons more than either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. Anti-inflammatory foods containing Omega 3 fatty acids such as flax seeds, spirulina and chia seeds helps to reverse the inflammation. Enzyme bromelain found in pineapple has anti-inflammatory properties, also has a mucolytic property that helps to break the mucus and expel them out of lungs. The quercetin which is present in apple, berries, broccoli, green tea etc. has anti-inflammatory properties.
Short fasting and intermittent fasting have proven benefits in promoting autophagy (self-eating/ auto-cleaning) thus clearing out most toxins from the body. Fasting also activates the stem cells of immune system and helps them to regrow and repair. Fasting helps in the production of Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF) and helps in neuro re-generation. Intermittent fasting helps to activate the acute immune response which is very much important for fighting infections
Tulsi in the form of extracts, inhalations, herbal teas help to restore the respiratory health and build the immunity. It is a must to consume herb to prevent or treat range of lung disorders such as cough, cold, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis etc. Tulsi is also good to treat parasitic infestations and also fungal infections. Concoctions made with Tulsi, Ginger and Honey are also used to treat fevers and allergies.
Turmeric is one of the herbs that has the highest anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Turmeric is an antidote for many of the monsoon illnesses including asthma, cough, allergies, running nose, rheumatism, sinusitis etc. Turmeric is best consumed with black pepper for building immunity.
Licorice is a respiratory friendly herb. It has both anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. It is beneficial in people with asthma, bronchitis, throat irritation or chest colds with coughs or problem in breathing.
Garlic helps to boost the immune system and one of the best herbs that is good to prevent and treat infections. Including garlic in your daily diet can help you fight with cold, flu and other seasonal disorders.
Exercise in moderation is excellent routine for keeping the immune system at its optimum levels. Overtraining at the same time cause burn out syndrome. Regular exercise result in increase in white blood cells and other antibodies in the body which are meant to fight infections. Exercising outdoor also provide additional benefits of obtaining Vitamin D through Sun exposure.
Breathing has a direct effect on lowering cortisol and also to balance the autonomic nervous system. Thus it helps to fight against the physical and mental stress and also to modulate immune functions. Breathing exercises such as Nadishudhi pranayama, Ujjayi pranayama and Bhastrika are highly beneficial towards boosting the immune system.
Vitamins such as Vitamin C, D and E are extremely beneficial for immunity. Minerals that are important to keep a strong immune system are magnesium, zinc, selenium, potassium and calcium. Try and consciously include these in your diet or even as supplementation.
Sleep beyond doubt helps to boost immunity. Sleep deprivation is directly linked to cortisol spikes and reduced production of cytokines that are responsible for maintaining a healthy immune system. Adequate sleep is also proven to be increasing the natural killer cells activity and modulating natural immune response.
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