Recently somebody requested me to provide them some insights about IMMUNITY. Below were the questions that were put forth and I came up with answers from Ayurveda point of view. Have shared it here, if it can be of help to those who need it…
1) What is immunity?
Immunity is the body’s ability to fight back during an attack by foreign particles such as viruses, bacterias that causes infections, that is transmitted through Air, water or food, and also body’s capacity to arrest the pathogenic process of disease formation. Ayurveda terms Immunity as “Vyadhi Kshamatvam”- Vyadhi is disease and Kshamatvam is to resist.
2) How does immunity work?
When the body’s defence mechanism recognises any harmful foreign particle entering in to the system, the white blood cells immediately prepares for the attack to deactivate the harmful particles by producing more of T cells( a part of white blood cells).The body’s ability to heal wounds, balancing body’s vital elements(Vata pitta and Kapha in Ayurveda) in accordance to time of the day and seasons, Keeping you in pleasant state of mind and maintaining body’s internal environment, are all the functions of the Immunity.Body has natural in built immunity in accordance to place, race and time it is born and also acquired immunity that develops over a period of time in accordance to place, food and climatic conditions of the place.
3) Why is Immunity Important?
Immunity is important to safeguard your body from harmful foreign body, which if neglected can prove life threatening or may lead to chronic conditions and also weakening the body that can become prone to repeated infections or diseases. Immunity is important to keep your body fit, physically and mentally.
4) What natural foods do you recommend to build immunity? (please be specific with quantity, where you can)
Foods that are nourishing in nature, have the quality of building body’s defense mechanism. Such as Cow’s milk(Desi breed)- 100ml of milk a day is beneficial to be taken with a pinch of turmeric(to be avoided by those who has lactose intolerance), Cow’s ghee(Desi breed)- 1 tsp of melted ghee can be a part of your food every day, Honey, Fruits such as apples, grapes, Goose berries, custard apples, Papaya, Pomegranate etc. Grains such as- old unpolished rice, Barley, Green gram, Moth beans etc. Dry fruits such as soaked black grapes, Almonds, dry figs and vegetables such as- Ridge gourd, Ash gourd, Lady’s finger, Bottle gourd, snake gourd, Drum sticks, spinach, Drum stick leaves, Methi leaves, Dil leaves etc are the foods that are recommended to be taken.
5) What herbal remedies do you recommend to strengthen immunity? please be specific with dosages, and duration where you can).
Herbal remedies such as-
Giloy(Guduchi stem)- 4-5 small stems to be soaked in about 100ml, water overnight and next day early morning the stems to be squeezed well in the same water and to be strained and to be consumed on empty stomach. Can be taken for 2-3months
Goose berries(Amla)- 1 Amla can be eaten in the morning or fresh juice can be obtained and taken in quantity of 30ml for one month( To stop taking if one catches cold)
Triphala Choorna- 1 tsp of powder to be soaked in about 100ml water overnight and next day morning to be strained and consumed on empty stomach for about a month.(To be avoided by people with diarrhoea and sensitive stomach)
Chyavanprash- It is a rasayana(rejuvenator) that nourishes all bodily elements and boosts immunity. 1 tsp to be taken early morning on empty stomach followed by cup of hot water.( People with Diabetes to excise caution due to presence of sugar/jaggery/honey)
Swarna Bindu Prashana for children uptil the age of 16 yrs takes care of building immunity in children.
6) Do lifestyle factors, food and genetics play a role in immunity, and if yes how?
Yes. Lifestyle factors, food and genetics do play a role in Immunity. Ayurveda explains this in respect to Desha(Place where we stay/born), Kala( seasonal variations and natural climatic conditions of the place).
a. Sleeping late in the night-after 10pm
b. Night shifts
c. Lack of physical activity
e. Exceeding ones capacity in physical activities
f. Lack of exposure to sunlight
g. Sleeping during the day
h. Exposure to harmful chemicals, alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco, drugs.
i. Unhealthy lifestyle of lactating mother and pregnant mothers
j. Supressing natural urges(Urge to defecate, urination, sneezing, yawning etc, Ayurveda mentions 13 such urges called as Adhaaraneeya vegas- meaning the urges that which shouldn’t be supressed)
a. Having Junk food
b. Eating food when not hungry or over eating
c. Reheated foods or refrigerated foods
d. Unhygienic foods and foods prepared with unpleasant mind
e. Taking curds in the night
f. Having excessive sour and spicy foods
g. Foods that causes gaseousness in the abdomen- Sprouts, Rajma, chole, dry green peas, Potatoes and Brinjal
h. Having food late in the night, excessive tea coffee and carbonated drinks
i. Taking milk with fruits(such as milk shakes)
j. Eating food with unpleasant mind
a. Congenital diseases(diseases by birth or major birth defects)
b. Unhealthy sperm and ovum