Boost your im­mu­nity

You have your health in your hands, if you only look af­ter your im­mu­nity, says Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker.

Savvy - - Contents -

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.

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