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03 November, 2021
IMMUNITY GUIDE

Our immune system protects our body from attack by micro-organisms, abnormal cells and chemicals. Food always plays a key role for boosting immunity in body. It is essential time to boost our immune system as WHO confirms COVID -19 as a global pandemic. India needs to improve herd immunity along with other countries. A number of researchers predict that herd immunity will help to fight against covid19. Herd immunity is the indirect protection from contagious infectious diseases. Foods is one of the major parameter to improve immune response as well as Regular practice of low to moderate intensity exercise, keeping stress level low, adequate sleep etc. A healthy balanced diet with colourful fruits and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants etc.

INCLUDE VITAMIN C

Vitamin C is very essential for tissue repair, body growth, heart health, immunity and skin defence system. But the body can't produce it and we need to take it in food or supplement form daily. Intake of vitamin C has to be 90 mg daily. It is a water soluble vitamin and is found in many fruits and vegetables such as oranges, amala, guavas, bell pepper, lemons, spinach, kiwi, and pineapple. Vitamin C helps encourage the production of WBC, which in turn protects the body against infections. If vitamin C is not sufficient in your daily diet, including vitamin C supplements is recommended.

ZINC

Zinc plays an important role in immune response. Zinc helps to maintain normal development and functioning of our immunity cells and antibodies. Zinc-deficient individuals are known to experience increased susceptibility to a variety of infectious agents and delay wound healing. Shellfish, beef, and other red meats are highly rich sources of zinc. Nuts and legumes are good plant sources of zinc. Zinc bioavailability is relatively high in meat, fish, poultry and dairy products. Zinc in whole grains, fortified cereals and plants are less bio-available. 

VITAMIN-E

Vitamin – E may enhance T cell activity and assist in the production of antibodies. It is a strong antioxidant which help to prevent oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids, causes the disorder like autoimmune diseases, infections, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases etc. Vitamin –E mainly synthesize from plant sources like kiwi, olive, sunflower oil, almonds, cashew nuts, apricots, avocados, spinach, broccoli etc.  

Vitamin B6

This important vitamin has several aspects of biochemical reactions in the body to boost immune system functions. Foods high in vitamin B6 include whole grain products (mainly wheat), bananas, lean chicken breast, nuts, baked potatoes and chickpea, spinach, beans etc. 

VITAMIN- A

Vitamin –A keep mucous membrane healthy from severity of infectious illnesses and increase antibody response. Beta-Carotene act as an antioxidant which converted to vitamin-A by several biochemical reactions. Foods  are rich  in colourful compounds known as carotenoids, found in  carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, orange juice ,beet, mango, egg yolk, colocasia leaves, myalu leaves, curry leaves ,coriander leaves, red amaranth leaves, ripe papaya ,tomato spinach, turnip greens , and squash etc.  

Vitamin- D

Vitamin-D plays an important role in COVID-19 mortality rates. Vitamin –D strengths innate immunity (natural immunity in our system) and prevents overactive immune responses. Butter, fortified margarine, egg yolk, fatty fish, fish liver oil ,sea fish etc. helps to increase vitamin D in our body. Also get vitamin D from sun bath when we exposed our body to the sun.  

SELENIUM

Selenium has a powerful effect on immune system. Selenium deficiency results to impaired immune functions and progression of some viral infections. Selenium reduces oxidative stress and it results in changes of some viral expression or mutation. Selenium reach foods are organ meats, muscle meats, sea foods, broccoli, nuts, garlic, barley etc.  

IRON

Iron is synthesizing   from the B-cells and T-cells. Iron helps which helps to carry oxygen to the cell which regulates the function properly and resists disease. Vitamin-C strongly enhances iron absorption. Red meat, legumes, green vegetables, eggs, dried fruits and enriched cereals etc. rich sources of iron. 

COPPER

Copper play an important role in maintenance of immune system. Copper acts as an essential nutrient to fight against viral pathogens. Copper reduces the effect of COVID-19 as it has capacity to improve the function of T-cells, B-cells, and macrophages. Sesame seeds, cashews, soybeans, mushrooms, beet greens, spinach, asparagus etc. are rich sources of copper. 

PROTEIN

High protein diet helps to make antibodies and boost immune system. Richest source of  proteins are meat, fish ,egg, dairy products etc. Many vegetables and grains are good sources of proteins such as Broccoli, brown rice, nut butters, mushrooms, nuts and seed etc.

GET ENOUGH SLEEP


Sleep is most essential to maintain good health. It is during sleep that all major processes viz. relaxation, repair, rejuvenation, healing and growth take place in our body. So for improving immunity, 8 hours' quality sleep is essential. In case you do not get proper sleep, take support of sleep-improving herbal teas or natural supplements. Also practicing meditation and relaxation techniques may help you fall asleep fast. You can do yoga, follow the sleep regime, listen to soothing music and use aroma therapy to get right sleep.

CURCUMIN


Curcumin is a natural key compound present in turmeric roots that gives it a bright yellow colour and healing power to ?ght against infection. Apart from its use as a spice, turmeric has a very important role in relieving infection, in?ammation, acting as a natural pain reliever. Consuming turmeric is a natural way to help boost the immune system by increasing the immune modulating capacity of our body. It works as an antibacterial substance and helps prevent cold and ?u. Include more turmeric in your diet or as supplement to get immunity against seasonal changes a?ecting you.

REDUCE STRESS


When we are under constant stress, our immune system reduces the ability to ?ght against bacteria, viruses and cancerous cells. The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the e?ectiveness of the immune system. So manage your stress and reduce it through exercise, yoga and meditation. Deep breathing and relaxation techniques also help do the same. Make a habit of reading motivational books and watching inspiring videos. Develop a creative hobby. And if you're already feeling really stressed out taking adrenal support supplements can be helpful.

DRINK MORE WATER


The most well-know and sure-?re way to boost your immune system and overall health is drinking plenty of water. Our body is 60 to 70% water. Drink around 2.5 litres of water daily and look for pale yellow urine. This will provide cells with clean oxygenated blood and ?ush out toxins. All vital organs and muscles will be cleansed and well hydrated to function at their best. Water also helps absorb important vitamins, minerals and nutrients from food, enhancing the chances of staying healthy.

MEDITATION & YOGA


Numerous viruses and bacteria reside within and around us. But they only attack us when the body's internal environment becomes unbalanced. Yoga and meditation bring balance and harmony in body and mind. Yoga provides a gentle natural support to the immune system, lowers stress and harmonises hormones. It also helps stimulate the lymphatic system to ?ush out toxins from the body. Pranayama and breathing techniques fully support and improve functional abilities of lungs and increase lung capacity for quality oxygenation.

MODERATE EXERCISE


All research proves that 30 minutes' moderate exercise every day is a must for any individual to stay healthy physically and mentally. Walking, cycling, swimming, and outdoor sports will make you feel more energetic, rejuvenated and de-stressed. Exercise helps ?ush bacteria out of the respiratory track so there is less chance of getting infection. It improves blood circulation and heart function, boosting immunity through active circulation of antibodies and WBC. Also rise in body temperature during exercise will help body ?ght infection better.

WHOLE PLANT FOOD

For being healthy and disease-free, improving overall diet habit plays a very important role. Whole plant foods mean more vegetables and fruits in their original form. And also high?bre grains, seeds, beans and nuts. All these foods are low gluten and high ?bre. They are very easy to digest and full of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. These help to keep cells healthy and boost immunity. So ?ll two-thirds of your plate with these plant-based foods.

VITAL VITAMINS

Immunity boosting vitamins are B6, B12 and vitamins A, C, D and E. The best source is to get them from daily food, as body absorbs and uses them when they come straight from dietary sources. Vitamin supplements are just to ?ll the gaps in diet. Vitamin B6, which is very important for biochemical reactions in immune system, comes from bananas, potatoes and chickpeas. Cod liver oil, sweet potatoes, carrots, black-eyed peas, spinach and broccoli are rich of Vitamin-A. Vitamin E is a very powerful antioxidant that helps ?ght infections. Sources of vitamin E are almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, sun?ower seeds, spinach and broccoli.

HAVE YOGURT


One of your immune system's key jobs is to patrol the gastrointestinal tract and prevent germs, bacteria, and other pathogens from entering the bloodstream and making you sick. Yogurt (curd) is the best dietary source of probiotics that help balance gut bacteria. Good bacteria present in the gut will improve digestion, heart health, reduce allergies and support immune system. Yogurt is also high in protein and good source of vitamin A and Zinc. So take the most natural source - homemade dairy yogurt - to boost your immunity.

EAT MORE HEALTH FAT



Eating a low-fat diet strengthens our immune system, so limit your dietary fat. Long-term consumption of fatty foods and oil impairs WBC function and hampers the body's ability to ?ght bacteria in blood. Avoid white ?our items - pastries, cookies, pizza, hydrogenated vegetable oil, butter, ice cream and red meat. Good fats are poly- and mono-unsaturated fats that are important for good health of heart and circulation system. Boost immunity with olive, peanut, sesame oil, avocados, nuts, sun?ower seeds, soybeans and tofu.

GARLIC POWER



Garlic provides a wide variety of health bene?ts and so it has been used as a medicinal herb for centuries. Garlic contains a compound “alliin” that helps the immune system ?ght germs and removes toxins from body. When raw garlic is crushed, chewed or sliced and consumed, it has highest health bene?ts. Regular intake of garlic prevents common cold and ?u. Garlic supplements and garlic powder available to ful?l the need, but natural food source is the best.

OMEGA-3


Omega-3 is type of poly-unsaturated fatty acid with a long chain, so it's very important for good health. It has powerful health bene?ts for body and brain. It enhances the functional activity of immune 'B' cells and supports immune system to ?ght against viruses. The natural food source for Omega-3 is fatty ?sh, but one can take Omega-3 supplement for equal bene?ts. Also some vegetarian food sources for Omega-3 are chia seeds, ?ax seeds, walnut, spinach, cauli?ower, berries and leafy greens. But in veg foods, the quantity is very little.

TAKE SUN BATH


Sun has the highest natural healing powers for various health problems. The major role that sunlight plays is in help producing Vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary in adequate quantity for calcium absorption by bones and has direct impact on the immune system. Take sunbath on an empty stomach and eat half an hour post that. Take a cold water bath after taking sunbath. Apply coconut, olive oil or sesame oil on exposed skin before taking sunbath. Also cover your head and face with wet towel and sit under direct sun for about 10 minutes. Ideal time is before 8 am and after 5 pm when there are no harsh sunrays.

STAY AWAY FROM TOXINS


Apart from stress, insomnia, loneliness, lack of exercise, poor dietary habits; nicotine and heavy drinking can also weaken your immunity. Nicotine increases cortisol levels, which reduce 'B' cell antibody formation and 'T' cell response to antigen, disturbing the immune system. Excessive drinking can reduce immune system response. Acetaldehyde is a metabolite present in alcohol, which impairs lung function. This leads to high risk of infection when a virus attacks the body.

GREEN TEA


Polyphenols and potent plant antioxidants are believed to give green tea its immune-boosting e?ects. It also has the ability to control in?ammation and increase detoxi?cation. A study suggested that a particular type of polyphenols called catechins may kill in?uenza viruses. Take just-below-boiling water and steep green tea for no more than a minute or two. A little lemon and honey can also help blunt the bitterness. But don't add milk, because the proteins will bind to the polyphenols, making them ine?ective. One can also use readymade tea sachets available in the market for equal bene?ts.

SANITIZE


Hand sanitizer is best when you don't have water and soap to wash your hands. Sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is e?ective in killing germs. Gel or liquid alcohol sanitizers are available. Take the ?uid in one hand and rub all over hands, up to elbows for 20 seconds, let it dry. Do not rinse or wash sanitized hands immediately after use. After application the e?ect starts within 30 seconds and kills bacteria and most viruses. Hand sanitizer sprays are most e?ective as they spread immediately on vast surfaces. For good hygiene of your family form a habit to use sanitizer.

NASAL STEAM


Congested sinus, stu?y nose and any irritation in respiratory tract can be eased with inhaling steam. All bacteria and germs present in the nose and throat will die and mucus in the sinus will become thin and come out.  If your upper respiratory tract is clean of germs there are least chances of getting respiratory infections. Try to take moderately hot steam for 10 minutes every day. Once in a while you can also take sauna or steam bath, which increases the blood circulation and body detoxi?cation.

AUTHOR

HEMANTA ROUTH (SENIOR DIETITIAN)

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