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Simple Steps to Boost Your Immunity during the Pandemic

We all have met and wondered at the person who never falls sick even when the entire family is unwell during an epidemic of cold and flu.

simple-steps-to-boost-your-immunity-during-the-pandemic

The Pandemic and its Effects

The Pandemic has caused a huge drain on the global economy, affecting the physical and mental health of people. Millions have been affected, struggled fought the virus, and undergone huge trauma. Some have recovered but many have lost their near and dear ones.and are battling the grief. Others who have not been affected are in constant fear of contracting the disease and suffering its repercussions. Strengthening our immunity is the only way to fight this risk.

What is Immunity

So, what exactly is immunity. In simple terms, immunity is the ability of our body to fight infections and allergies and keep us strong and healthy. We have always believed that it is genetic and are born with it. But doctors today believe that while certain aspects are hereditary, it also depends on our lifestyle to a great extent. Each of us has different immunity levels as the reaction to diseases is different. This is called natural immunity. Immunity acquired by vaccination is called passive immunity.

What Causes Low Immunity

Children are susceptible to illnesses as their immune system is still in the growing stage. So, it is important to build their immune system while they are still young. Frequent and recurrent infections of the ear, skin, sinus, bronchitis, meningitis, anemia, low platelet count are all apparent signs of low immunity. Not having a healthy work-life balance due to hectic life in modern times is the main reason for low levels of immunity. When we are stressed, our body’s ability to fight diseases decreases. This is because the stress hormone cortisol suppresses the immune system. The environmental hazards of pollution, contaminated food, and sedentary lifestyle are the main reasons for low immunity. A blood test can check if the levels of immunoglobulin are within normal limits. Everyone’s immune systems are different.

Steps to Boost Immunity

Everyone’s immune systems are different. While some people are lucky to be born with a strong immune system, most people fall sick at least once a year. But by following a few simple strategies we can boost our immunity and live a healthy life. The steps we can take to improve our immunity are as follows:

Healthy Diet

Healthy Diet

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet consisting of fresh seasonal locally grown vegetables is essential. Incorporating certain foods into your diet can help your immune system to be in a very good condition.

  • Protein is crucial for forming immune cells. It contains an amino acid called L-arginine which generates T-cells that help cells fight germs.
  • Herbs such as turmeric, oregano, thyme have been known for their medicinal properties for a long time.
  • Mushrooms and garlic have anti-inflammatory properties and can boost immunity over significant periods of time.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids found in foods like salmon and chia seeds, healthy fats found in olive oil are known to help immunity by fighting inflammation.
  • Dehydration and inflammation can cause damage to the immune system. Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water to stay hydrated which is important for our immune system to function efficiently.
  • Refined carbs and sugar intake should be curtailed to avoid obesity and overweight. An ideal or optimal weight should be maintained to be active and healthy.
Exercise is a must

Exercise is a must

Get Moving

Another great way to boost the immune system is to move more often. The immune system responds to exercise by producing more of the blood cells that attack pathogens. The more regularly you exercise the more beneficial it is to your health. Research shows that people who exercise moderately like 5 or 6 days a week have half as many infections as people who do not exercise. Even 20-30 minutes of exercise, yoga, and breathing exercises daily can significantly improve metabolism and immunity.

Reduce stress

Chronic stress can suppress the response of the immune system to fight diseases. Anticipating a happy or funny event increases endorphins and other hormones that induce calmness. Reducing stress may help prevent disorders and infections. Relaxation techniques like meditation, pranayama have a positive effect on the immune system. People often take to smoking and alcohol when stressed. But they cause more harm than help. Tobacco is known to cause cancer and cardiac problems. Alcohol compromises the immune system and should be avoided. Spending time with pets is a great way to beat stress. Pet owners are known to have fewer health problems than non-owners. Children who grow up with pets are healthier and have better immunity.

Sleep Sleep Sleep

Sleep Sleep Sleep

Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep affects the immune system in many ways. During sleep, our immune system released proteins called cytokines and T-cells which help fight diseases. It is observed that 6-7 hours of sleep per day is required to boost the immune system and keep us healthy. Good sleep helps to heal. Studies show that people who do not get quality sleep are more prone to get sick when exposed to a virus. It also affects the rate of recovery. Good sleep can help the body not only fight the disease-causing germs but also to recover faster when you do get sick.

Get Plenty of Sunshine

Get Plenty of Sunshine

Sunlight for Vitamin D

Sunlight energizes the infection-fighting t-cells that play an important part in improving immunity. It is now evident that vitamin D which we get from sunlight has an important role in improving immunity apart from its known function of calcium assimilation and bone growth. In the absence of vitamin D dietary calcium is not absorbed efficiently. The deficiency of vitamin D needs to be importantly checked in older people as they are mostly homebound, stay indoors, and are not exposed to enough sunlight. During winter months it needs to be particularly monitored as lack of exposure to sunlight can cause deficiency of the vital vitamin.

Fruits, the more colored the better

Fruits, the more colored the better

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are rich in essential nutrients like beta carotene, vitamin A, C and vitamin E, and potassium, which can boost our immune system. They are also rich in antioxidants to reduce inflammation, rich in folate and fiber to aid digestion. Vitamin C contained in citrus fruits is thought to increase white blood cells which are essential to fight diseases. Fruits contain natural sugars that help in providing nutrition and keep us healthy with a lesser chance of developing obesity. Probiotics are known to promote natural antibodies in the body. They are known to enhance gut health by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria and maintaining the balance in the gut.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Positive Attitude and Laughter

Positive thinking is a key to stress management which in turn improves general health and wellbeing. Write down your thoughts to boost positivity. Make a list of the things that make you unhappy and devise a plan to reduce or remove them from your life and work to increase the things that make you happy. Smile often. As soon as you wake up in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror and smile. It is a positive way to start the day by being kind to yourself. Stay away from toxic people who drain you out with their negative energy. When stressed take some time off and watch comedy shows and have a hearty laugh.

Bhagavad Gita on Elevation of Mind

In the Bhagavad Gita-Chapter 6 verse 5 -When Arjuna compares the mind to wind and says that the mind is fickle, turbulent, strong and obstinate and impossible to control like the wind, Krishna says to Arjuna:

śhrī bhagavān uvācha
asanśhaya
mahā-bāho mano durnigraha chalam
abhyāsena tu kaunteya vairāgye
a cha gihyate

Meaning:

Lord Krishna said: O mighty-armed son of Kunti, what you say is correct; the mind is indeed very difficult to restrain. But by practice and detachment, it can be controlled.

In other words by practice and detachment alone can we attain a calm and stable mind which in turn can lead us to the path of bliss.

Yoga Asanas to Boost the Immune System

The regular practice of Yoga is known to keep diseases at bay. There are many asanas that help in boosting the immune system: They are:

  • Bhujangasana or Cobra pose
  • Matstyasana or fish pose
  • Utkatasana or chair pose
  • Trikonasana or triangular pose
  • Vrikshasana or Tree pose
  • Tadasana or Mountain pose
  • Suryanamaskar or sun salutation

Practice Helps Develop Habits

Motivation experts say it takes six weeks to build habits. The best method to make positive changes in relation to food, exercise, and lifestyle is consistency. For every habit, there is a cue. For example, you have decided to go jogging in the morning. Keep your running shoes beside your bed. So the moment you wake up and see the shoes you are reminded of your resolve to jog. Finding your inherent motivation for changing habits makes it is easier to change them. Like losing weight to stay healthier rather than fit into a dress of a lesser size.

Hygiene is Important

Wash your hands as often as possible and maintain hygiene in and around the place that you live and work in. Wear face masks and face shields when you go out. Sanitize your hands immediately when you touch doorknobs, surfaces in public places. It is best to keep a small bottle of sanitizer with you always. A touch of green adds not only to the décor of the house but increased oxygen in the air and helps improve health. A few potted plants inside the house and a green lawn, a small veggie garden in the front yard or back yard can work wonders for your overall health and immunity. Spending time in natural surroundings is known to improve immunity and help maintain good health.

In Conclusion

The overwhelming situation due to the pandemic and subsequent isolation has caused a considerable drain on our physical and mental health which in turn can affect our immunity. There are several ways to strengthen our immune system

By making a few simple changes in our lifestyle we can get our health back on track. By regularly following a routine of proper diet, sleep, exercise, positive attitude, yoga, and meditation we can ensure that our immunity is intact and we are well prepared to face and fight the virus to stay safe and healthy.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 VIDYA D SAGAR

Comments

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on November 11, 2020:

Hi Anoop, good to see you. Thanks for the visit and the comments. I appreciate it. I am so glad you liked the steps mentioned in the article to boost immunity. I am sure you are practicing some of them too.

Anoop Kashyap on November 10, 2020:

A very nice and an informative article :)

Lot of important points to know about immunity, diet and yoga.

Regards,

Anoop.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on November 08, 2020:

Hi Flourish, good to see you. Thanks for the visit and the nice comments. The recurrence of the Pandemic in many countries is scary. It has forced us to rethink the options to stay safe and healthy.

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 08, 2020:

This was a good review of the various options for boosting immunity. It’s especially an important topic during the pandemic.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on November 08, 2020:

Hi Pamela, good to see you my friend. Thanks for the nice comments. The fresh wave of the pandemic across many countries is really a cause for concern. We need to take utmost care on our part and try to be safe. It is distressing to hear the news daily, of so many people being affected. Hope that a vaccine is found soon.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 08, 2020:

These suggestions to boost your immunity are excellent, Vidya. The pandemic has been tough for most people, so I think we would all do well to follow your suggestions.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on November 08, 2020:

Hi Eric, good to see you. Thanks for the visit and for the comments. I am glad you found the points interesting. Meditation and prayer lead to a stable and calm mind which in turn improves Immunity and health in general. A positive attitude is an added advantage. Yoga as a spiritual practice can change our whole perspective of life.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 08, 2020:

Quite interesting and it all is truth in my understanding. You touch on Yoga as a spiritual practice. This is good and done properly can enhance any religious notions. It becomes clear that one who meditates and prays is more immune.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on November 08, 2020:

Hi Suresh, thanks for the visit and the nice comments. I am glad you liked the article, take care, stay safe.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on November 08, 2020:

Hi Prapulla, good to see you. Thanks for the comments. Yes the fear will always be there. The best option is to stay at home and stay safe.

PRAPULLA on November 08, 2020:

A very nice article Vidya. I practice almost all what you have written . But still that fear about this pandemic will always be there. First we must practice thinking positively. Your article is very helpful.

Suresh on November 08, 2020:

Wonderful and informative article

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on November 08, 2020:

Hi Lorna, good to see you. Thanks for the kind comments. A healthy diet and a positive outlook works wonders for our health. Sun salutation is best for overall health and immunity. I practice it every day from many years. It has really helped me a lot.

VIDYA D SAGAR (author) on November 08, 2020:

Hi Anne, good to see you, yes the virus has struck again and we need to take utmost care. For me too it is exercise and yoga. Playing with my pet relives me if stress.

Lorna Lamon on November 08, 2020:

A wonderful informative article which ensures that we all maintain a healthy immune system, and just as important a healthy outlook in our lives. I practice the 'Sun Salutation' every morning which invigorates the mind and body. A healthy diet and a positive attitude will go a long way to fighting off illness and keeping us stress free.

Ann Carr from SW England on November 08, 2020:

Good advice here for life in general and certainly for our present times!

Exercise and laughter are, for me, the best!

Ann