Boost your immunity
You have your health in your hands, if you only look after your immunity, says Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker.
In a world where time is short and meals are on the run, we often seem to compromise our health and immune system. Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker, MBBS, MS, shows you how to stay healthy, always, in a fast-paced world…
LOVE THYSELF! Women are doing a lot these days; they manage work, home and kids. So it is extremely important that they take care of their health as they are the pillars of their family. The key to maintaining good health is a good diet and lifestyle. Simply put: Follow a good diet, rich in nutrients. Make time for daily exercise. Get a good night’s sleep. Avoid smoking and alcohol. Get timely vaccinations for flu and pneumonia. Find time to de-stress and fit in some ‘me’ time into your routine.
FACTORS AFFECTING IMMUNITY IN WOMEN
Surprisingly, when it comes to immunity, women have it better than men! The gender gap in immune function is established knowledge. The female hormone ‘estrogen’
promotes immune response, while the male hormones or ‘androgens’ suppress immunity. Although women are less prone to viral, bacterial and fungal infections, their immune system is prone to overreact and makes them more susceptible to autoimmune diseases. Additionally, studies have shown that women tend to lose their immunological advantage after reaching menopause.
FOODS THAT BUILD IMMUNITY
Nutrition is essential for good immunity. Undernourished people have lower immunity, making them more prone to infections.
A balanced diet rich in nutrients and low in fats is essential to maintain good immunity levels.
Ensure you eat plenty of these immunity boosters: Vitamin A, C and E rich foods as they boost the production of cells that fight diseases. Colourful vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin, peanut butter etc are good sources. Zinc also boosts immunity. Cereals, pork, poultry, beef, yoghurt and milk are good sources. Omega 3 fatty acids found in seafood. Beware of weight reduction diets, especially those with very low calorie intake as they reduce immune function.
SHED THE FLAB! In medical terms, obesity is characterized as a state of low grade chronic inflammation. And not surprisingly, it also has a negative impact on the immune system. High fat diets tend to depress the immune function and lead to an increase in the risk of infection. In fact, obese individuals are more prone to developing infections, and antibiotics and vaccines do not act as well on them. But don’t fret if you feel you are overweight or obese... Start a moderate exercise program. Cycle for half-an-hour with your kids. Join a zumba class 4-5 times a week.
Colourful vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin, peanut butter etc are good sources of vitamins A, C and E.
Take a 20-30 minute walk. Visit the gym 4 times a week.
AGEING AND IMMUNITY
Deterioration in immune function with increasing age is well-documented. This decline has a negative impact on health and renders the elderly more vulnerable to infections, which also tends to be more frequent and severe in this age group. Agerelated decline in immunity also predisposes the elderly to developing autoimmune diseases as well as cancers. Vaccines too do not act as well in the elderly as compared to younger people. So, old people must: Take special care to remain active - mentally and physically. Eat healthy and avoid heavy food which is difficult to digest. Get adequate sunshine daily. Keep in touch with peers and family, and remain occupied with activities they enjoy.
So, what are you waiting for?! Fix that immune system and keep glowing all year round!
Avoid contact with people suffering from a cold.