COVID-19 has shaken up the entire world with its alarming consequences and it is rightly termed as the black swan event of the modern history of mankind. People are stuck at homes, there is no buzz on the streets and life has come to a standstill. As per the latest statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are close to 13 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 including more than 5 lakh deaths currently. Of this, India has more than 3 lakh active cases with a death toll of 23,174. And, the numbers are rising steeply every day.
The healthcare staff across the world are working relentlessly to handle the flood of patients. The scientists, medical professionals and drug makers are also toiling round the clock to develop a vaccine. While it is expected that that people follow precautionary measures to break the chain and a vaccine breakthrough happens soon, both these factors are beyond your personal control.
The only control measure you can take at an individual level is to develop a strong body immunity.
What Exactly is Immunity?
The word ‘immunity’ has always existed in the medical and science textbooks. You must have read it about it in your academic textbooks. You must have even heard your doctors or health coaches talk about it. But never before it became the most talked-about thing before coronavirus outbreak.
You must be having the vague idea that immunity protects your body. But, have you ever dug deeper into what it is and how it works? In light of the current scenario, you must know some basics of immunity to develop and strengthen it the right way.
Immunity is your body’s natural defence mechanism to fight illnesses and diseases. When any virus, bacteria, germ, toxin or foreign substance enters your body, immunity attacks and resists them to safeguard your health. It also helps you recover faster when you fall ill, suffer an injury or undergo a surgery. Most importantly, it protects you when there is no medicine or vaccination available like in the case of coronavirus at present.
Your immunity is an intertwined pattern of different processes, organs, cells and many other structures of your body. It is considered the most complex system of the human body. It calls for balance and harmony between all elements of your body to become stronger. Hence, immunity doesn’t develop overnight or in a few days – it takes months. In fact, it is a continuous and lifelong process. If you stop midway, all your efforts could go waste and you will end up lowering your immunity.
Your body requires three types of immunity:
Innate immunity comes by birth. Your skin, saliva, gastric acid and body hair are some examples.
Adaptive immunity is something that you acquire through vaccination which builds an immune response to disease and prevents you from falling ill. It is also acquired through exposure to infection. For example, if you get chickenpox, you are highly unlikely to get it again.
Passive immunity is borrowed from other sources such as a mother’s breast milk. It is a short-term/temporary immunity, but it is nevertheless very powerful.
How Does Your Immune System Work?
Whenever your body identifies an invader – something that does not belong to it, it triggers some processes in the body. These processes are nothing but the response of the immune system. When you have a runny nose, mucus, flu, headache, swelling or fever, these are actually the signs of your immunity system doing its work.
Your immunity not only fights for your good health but also remembers the germs that caused the trigger. So, next time these germs attack your body again, your immunity will call upon that memory and respond even faster than before to safeguard you. That’s why, vaccinations are recommended for certain diseases and illnesses during childhood, and a few even in adult life, as it is in the case of coronavirus today.
Now, for your immune system to be able to react and fight properly, it needs to be strong. Then only it will get activated when it identifies the invader. A strong immune system will ensure that you remain in the pink of health most of your life and catch an illness or disease very rarely.
On the contrary, if your immune system is weak, you will be vulnerable to infections. You will fall sick frequently, suffer from more diseases and even remain under a prolonged period of recovery after an illness or surgery.
What are the Signs of a Weak Immune System?
When your immune system doesn’t work as it should, you are more susceptible to diseases and illnesses. Your body lowers its defences, making you immunocompromised. Here are some visible signs of a weak immune system:
- You fall ill very easily and quickly.
- You catch cold, flu and ear infections at frequent intervals.
- You suffer from asthma, eczema or other allergies.
- Your wounds from injuries are slow to heal.
- You have joint aches at a young age, as early as the 20s or 30s.
- You suffer from lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, blood pressure, hypertension, heart problems, obesity, etc.
- Your stress level is often high, and sometimes it results in loss of appetite, sickness and frequent burnouts.
- You suffer from digestive ailments such as frequent diarrhoea, constipation, gastric troubles and gut-related problems.
- You take several days to weeks for recovery when it should take lesser time.
- You feel tired and worn out every morning after waking up and throughout the day.
- You are unable to fall asleep properly or toss and turn around on the bed most nights.
- Certain medicines and medical treatments such as chemotherapy also weaken the immune system.
If you have any or more of the above symptoms, they are red flags for your immunity. They are warning signals that you need to take proactive steps to make it stronger.
How to Build and Strengthen Your Immunity?
While age and environmental toxins could suppress immunity, the good news is that it is still largely in your control to develop it. And, it’s very simple, provided you have the discipline to do it. A healthy lifestyle is all you need to boost your immunity. Let’s take a look at what all you should do on this front.
1. Eat Healthy – Nourish Your Body
Have you ever wondered why our forefathers hardly complained of any ailments? That’s because they mostly ate natural, wholesome and unprocessed foods every day, till the end of their lives! The concept of junk and store-bought foods did not exist. Everything was made fresh from scratch at home.
Unfortunately, commercialization, the evolution of taste buds and fast-paced lifestyle changed our traditional food habits. The reliance on restaurants and ready-to-eat foods has increased considerably. These foods are ultra-processed; high in fat, sugar, salt and oil; and loaded with empty calories. They don’t have any nutritional value and adversely impact your health, thereby your immunity.
The first step towards developing a strong immunity is to change your dietary habits:
- Make fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds a major part of your meals.
- Consume immunity-boosting foods such as citrus fruits (oranges, lemon, amla/Indian gooseberry), red bell peppers, garlic, ginger, spinach, curd/yoghurt and Indian spices such as turmeric.
- Eat whole grains such as wheat, oats, millet and brown rice either in their original form or as flours.
- Include legumes such as beans and lentils in your diet.
- Reduce or preferably stop eating junk and fast foods such as pizza, cookies, French fries, etc. These foods will offset the goodness of any healthy food intake.
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid or limit alcohol consumption.
- Make sure your food includes necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
The Indian government has published useful knowledge resource on a healthy diet for all age groups on the National Health Portal. Check it here.
You can also visit #HealthyAtHome: Healthy Diet page to read dietary guidelines published by WHO in the context of COVID-19.
2. Exercise – Move Your Body
A study highlights that moderate to vigorous intensity of exercise of less than 60 minutes improves body’s defence activities and immune regulation.
When you exercise, your body flushes out toxins and mobilizes immune cells. It makes antibodies and white blood cells responsible for fighting virus and bacteria stronger. So, when your body detects an invader, your immunity can detect it quickly and get to work to protect you.
Of course, exercise also has multiple other benefits for your body. It reduces weight, releases stress hormones, manages blood sugar and insulin levels, and lowers the risk of heart diseases. All these benefits go a long way in strengthening immunity.
Understandably, lockdowns and social distancing guidelines have ruled out exercise options such as walking, jogging, swimming, gyms, etc. However, you can still follow the #HealthyAtHome: Physical Activity recommendations of WHO to do physical exercises within the confines of your four walls. The latest study undertaken in the context of COVID-19 mentions that daily, regular exercise even during isolation can help maintain a healthy immune system.
Even after the COVID-19 ends, you should make conscious efforts to curb your sedentary lifestyle and focus on staying fit and healthy.
3. Sleep – Like a Baby
Did you know that around 62% of adults across the world have admitted not sleeping well after going to bed? If you belong to this category, you might be compromising your immunity. A study shows that sleep improves the potential ability of your body’s immune cells to attach to virus-infected cells and kill them, thereby fighting the infection. Another study has also proven the effective role of sleep in regulating immune functions.
So, what makes a good sleep? Well, adults need on an average 7-8 hours sleep for highly functional cognitive behaviour as per the world’s largest sleep study. The young population in the age group 0-18 years need more sleep than adults to aid their mental and physical development.
The quality of sleep is also as important as the quantity of sleep. So, if you wake up at least once in the night, take time to fall asleep or feel like sleeping all day despite a long slumber, then these are the signs of poor quality sleep.
Some of the reasons that can affect your immunity due to inadequate sleep are:
- Work-life imbalance
- Pre-existing diseases
- Anxiety and Depression
- Staying awake till late night to party/eat and drink/watch TV and phones
- Consuming caffeine or exercising before going to bed
Some useful tips for good sleep you should follow are:
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
- Avoid day naps and late-night activities.
- Decrease your exposure to artificial light, especially after evenings. Artificial light adversely impacts the production of melatonin in your body, which is primarily responsible for inducing sleep.
- Finish your exercises at least 3-4 hours before sleep.
- Switch on the blue light filter on your PCs or phones after its gets dark outside to minimize its ill-effects on your sleep.
- Do meditation or deep breathing exercises before sleep.
- Keep your room dark, quiet and cool.
- De-stress at the end of the day by taking a shower or bubble bath.
4. Hygiene is the First Line of Defence – Practice it
Remember how our parents often told us in our childhood to wash our hands frequently so that we are safe from germs? Well, however much you got annoyed that time, it turns out that it is a life saviour. Simple hygiene practices such as washing your hands with soap and water can shield you against coronavirus!
In fact, brushing your teeth, sneezing or coughing into your elbow and not touching open/untreated wounds are also some basic hygiene practices that can prevent germs from entering your body and harming your immunity.
Hygiene is the basic requirement of your body and the simplest habit to follow. Don’t overlook it.
5. Vaccination – Don’t Ignore its Power
Vaccines provide acquired immunity and prepare your immune system to fight infection. Vaccination not only protects you, but it also safeguards people around you from catching that disease from you. So, you must follow the vaccination guidelines of your state or country for your child and you.
As far as COVID-19 is concerned, the vaccine may take a few months for development. Even if it happens, it will take a few more months for mass production and distribution. In the current circumstances, strong body immunity is the only way to prevent yourself from getting coronavirus.
6. Natural Dietary Supplements -Your Extra Dose of Immunity
Sometimes, despite following a healthy lifestyle diet and habits, your body might need supplements to make up for what it is lacking. This gap could be due to your age, diseases you are suffering from or any other factor. Vitamin D, Vitamin C, calcium and multivitamins are some of the most common dietary supplements consumed by people around the world. Available in the form of pills, powders, liquids or capsules, these dietary supplements add missing nutrition to your diet and reduce the risk of potential health problems.
According to the findings of a report, dietary supplements provide numerous health benefits including strengthening your immunity, prevention of migraines, treatment of joint and cardiovascular diseases, protection from cold and flu, etc. An increasing number of people are consuming dietary supplements to keep themselves healthy and avoid the rising costs of healthcare treatments.
When you buy dietary supplements, you should bear the following tips in mind:
- They should be made from natural and organic ingredients.
- Check for the brand’s authenticity and what kind of research they have undertaken to develop their range of dietary supplements.
- The procurement and manufacturing processes should be safe and hygienic.
- Find out whether the packaging and labelling mention the ingredient, consumption, form, dosage and disclaimer information in detail.
- The brand should have an official website, social media handles or dedicated customer contact number to answer all queries regarding the supplements.
- The brand should hold the necessary certifications to manufacture and distribute supplements.
SKYTAG is among the most reputed dietary supplements brands in the market and meets all the criteria mentioned above. If you are looking for dietary supplements for immunity, you should consider SKYTAG’s Immunity Booster. It is made from 12 power-packed, natural, pure and organic ingredients such as giloy, tulsi, ashwagandha, haldi, moringa, dalchini, awla, mulethi, neem, garlic, rasna and sounth. All these ingredients are known for their immunity-enhancing properties. It has no side effects and hence, completely safe to use.
It should be noted that a dietary supplement is not a substitute for a healthy diet. Rather, it should be added to your routine for additional protection and extra power.
Whether it is COVID-19 or any other existing or future illnesses/diseases, a strong immune system will always be your natural defence mechanism. It can come to your rescue whenever you need it. However, you need to adapt and follow holistic lifestyle practices to acquire and strengthen your immunity. All you need is a mix of enthusiasm, discipline and knowledge to leverage the advantages!