In the midst of COVID19, Dr Manoj Kutteri, Head of Wellness Centre at Atmantan in Pune, India, shares his top tips with us on how to boost immunity and prevent infections.
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”. Taking the right measures 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 not being susceptible to any infections due to accidental exposure.
Maintain Optimum Gut health
- Our gut contains more than 100 million neurons. It is 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, as well as 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. also has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Gut Microbiomes are responsible for immune system functioning, reduce lung inflammation, improve digestion, combat obesity, and numerous other health benefits. A good intake of pre and probiotics help to rebuild or strengthen the microbiota in our gut which contribute majorly to boost immunity.
- A low FODMAP diet helps cut down on small carbohydrates that are responsible for gut irritation and digestive problems. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-Di-Mono-saccharides, And Polyols. Oligosaccharides are found in Wheat, Rye, Legumes, asparagus, garlic, onions etc. Disaccharides are the carbohydrates found in Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese. Monosaccharides found in sweeteners like agave nectar and honey. Also some of the dairy products and beans also contain these simple sugars. Polyols are low calories sugar replacers such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and Fruits like lychee and blackberries etc.
- A low histamine diet can help in improving lung functions and reduce mucosal inflammation. Food rich in quercetin i.e. leafy vegetables, red onions, grapes, broccoli, peppers etc should be included in the diet.
- Anti-oxidant rich diet is recommended to fight through the free radicals and counteract their damaging effects. Consider adding pomegranate, guava, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, etc and green tea to your diet for preventing oxidative stress.
- Parasite infestation can lower the immunity considerably. Avoid eating under-cooked meat (if can’t stop eating) to save from immature flukes from entering the body. Eat anti-parasitic food like Noni juice, pumpkin seeds, turmeric, neem, etc to save from parasitic infections.
- Increase the intake of vitamin C rich fruits (e.g. amla, lemon, guava, kiwis, litchi) as it helps to build resistance power to fight infections
- Stay hydrated – helps to boost your metabolism, maintain your body temperature, facilitate a proper drainage of waste products and thus contribute to immunity.
Short fasting and intermittent fasting has proven beneficial in promoting autophagy (self-eating/ auto-cleaning) thus clearing most toxins in the body. Fasting also activates the stem cells of the 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
Herbs that heal
- Tulsi (Ocimum Sanctum) – Tulsi in the form of extracts, inhalations, herbal teas helps 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 – 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.
- Liquorice: Liquorice 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. Mulleti also has great expectorant properties.
- Garlic: 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.
Breathing and Yoga
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 beneficial to boost immune system.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins such as Vitamin C, D and E are extremely beneficial. Minerals that are important to keep a strong immune system are magnesium, zinc, selenium, potassium and calcium.
Sleep beyond a 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 increase the natural killer cells activity and modulate a natural immune response.
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