Build your immunity
The primary purpose of Ayurveda is to maintain one’s health so that the incidence and severity of illness are considerably reduced. This unique principle is fast catching the attention of healthcare providers globally under the tag of ‘preventive medicine’. It requires discipline, physical and mental, to be able to adapt to everyday threats from the environment we live in. This ability to manage regular as well as newer threats is unique to each individual and depends on one’s immune system.
It is a well-known fact that a flawlessly functioning immune system is important to safeguard ourselves from the external and internal infections we are constantly exposed to. Ayurveda recognizes the importance of mental and spiritual well-being as well as physical well-being in building a robust immune system.
There are several factors which can lead to one’s immunity going out of whack.
Right on top of the list are recurrent digestive disturbances. Keeping one’s digestion in balance is important for immunity. A healthy gut is of utmost importance.
Next is excessive physical exercise. Exercise is great, but too much of it doesn’t work to your benefit. It puts the immune system under pressure. Anything excessive is not good for you. It includes smoking, alcohol and mental stress.
Sleep timings are important. There is no real substitute for sleeping at night. If you mess with your sleep timings you end up messing with your immune system. The body’s resilience comes from good sleep.
A robust immune system, on the other hand, comes first of all from your genes. You could be born with sound immunity.
In case you don’t have such favourable genes, lifestyle will matter more than anything else. It is important to have a healthy and clean body and a happy, optimistic mind.
Seek to have a disciplined daily routine. Be particular about a well-balanced, nutritious diet consumed in a mindful manner in a peaceful atmosphere at appropriate time and in the right quantity. Consume ‘rasayana’ herbs which are rich in antioxidants.
IMMUNITY BOOSTING FOODS
l Freshly cooked food. Avoid refrigerating and reheating foodstuff.
l Spices: turmeric, black pepper, ginger, garlic while cooking.
l Cow’s ghee: include two or three teaspoons as part of your daily diet.
l Curd: Consumption of freshly prepared curd, neither sweet nor sour. But not after sunset.
l Buttermilk may be consumed instead.
l Fruits: Fresh seasonal fruits, grown locally. Exotic varieties are not necessarily better.
l Dry fruits: Almonds, cashew nuts, raisins, dried figs are beneficial.
l Boiled and cooled water in sufficient quantity. Dehydration makes you susceptible to many disorders, hence adequate water intake is important. Excessive intake of water is not advised for an otherwise healthy person just as less intake is also not advised.
The following herbs consumed alone or in combination are known to enhance immunity. These can be included in your diet, based on susceptibility.
l Amalaki (amla, Indian gooseberry) – can be taken daily by healthy individuals to maintain their health.
l Guduchi (giloy, tinospora) – helps to avoid recurrent infections.
l Yashtimadhu (mulethi, licorice) – a gastro protective, it helps healing of recurrent gastric ulcers.
l Shatavari (asparagus) – a potent antioxidant, improves immunity, in addition to having specific benefits for women.
l Ashvagandha (Indian ginseng) – an anti-stress herb, helps to enhance physical strength.
l Tulsi (basil) – helpful for those prone to recurrent respiratory infections.
l Haridra (haldi, turmeric) – reduces allergy and inflammation, helpful for those with allergic tendencies.
All the above herbs are available as tablets by reputed pharmacies (Himalaya, Organic India).
Other potent immunomodulators include:
Haridra khanda (Baidyanath, Pentacare) – 1 teaspoonful in warm milk, twice daily, preferably on an empty stomach just before the onset of the season will keep respiratory infections at bay.
Septilin (Himalaya) or Extrammune (Charak) along with Bresol (Himalaya) – 2 tablets twice/thrice daily are helpful in avoiding recurrent respiratory infections.
Chyavanaprasha (any reputed pharmacy) – Kesari kalp (Baidyanath) and Swamala compound (Dhoothpapeshwar) are modified versions that are readily available. One teaspoonful, twice daily, followed with a cup of warm cow’s milk helps prevent respiratory ailments.
Immusante (Himalaya) and Nirocil (Solumiks) – for immunity support particularly in preventing impending viral infections and, of course, aiding faster recovery. n
Dr Srikanth is a postgraduate in Ayurveda and has been a consulting physician for the past 19 years. He is currently National Manager, Scientific Services, at The Himalaya Drug Company.