WELLNESS- BUILDING UP IMMUNITY_BY DR MAYANK MAWAR


WELLNESS- BUILDING UP IMMUNITY

DR. MAYANK MAWAR: mayank_mawar@yahoo.co.in

B.H.M.S., M.D.-Hom[Paeds.]

General Secretary, IIHP, DSB

 

The benefits of having a healthy immune system are absolutely essential to wellbeing. Without proper immune function, we quickly become the victims of disease – shortening our lives and impacting our capacity for happiness.

RISK FACTORS & WELLNESS TIPS
Get enough sleep
?Getting enough sleep is essential for a healthy immune system. When we sleep, the immune system is reinforced and replenished. Even one night’s sleep loss can significantly suppress the immune system.
Wash your hands
?Many micro-organisms are passed via skin contact with infected individuals or objects. Washing your hands before touching your face (rubbing your eyes, contacting your mouth or ears) can greatly reduce your exposure to harmful microbes in the environment; this lessens your chance of getting sick and of stressing your internal immune system.
Eat nutritious foods
?”You are what you eat.” Making sure your body receives only wholesome, nutritious foods is essential for optimum immune function. Immune-boosting foods include organically grown fruits and vegetables, wholegrain, beans and other legumes, natural oils such as expeller-pressed olive oil, hemp oil, walnut oil, flax oil and coconut butter.
* Brazil nuts, a rich source of selenium, are particularly good for the immune system. Selenium enhances immunity by activating glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme that inhibits the formation of free radicals and suppresses tumor growth.
* Fresh Kiwis, red peppers and to a lesser extent oranges, are rich sources of vitamin C, which is required by the immune system. Vitamin C is required by immune cells to enable optimal functioning. Interestingly enough, most animals produce their own vitamin C, whereas humans do not. It has been observed by many researchers that animals produce higher levels of vitamin C when they are immune-provoked or stressed; Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Linus Pauling believed this to be a protective defensive mechanism.
Avoid “unhealthy” foods
?Sugar and overly processed foods are foes of the healthy immune system. Sugar (including honey) suppresses many immune cells, particularly macrophages and NK cells. Other unhealthy foods include those containing hydrogenated oils (trans-fats), fried items, processed meats, baked goods made with white flour and foods that contain moulds.
Stay as stress-free as possible
?Although it’s easier said than done, keeping stress under control is essential for a healthy immune system. When we are stressed, our adrenal glands secrete a hormone known as cortisol. Although cortisol is in many ways good for our bodies (it helps keep inflammation in check, for example), too much of it on an ongoing basis can create havoc. For example, when cortisol output is high, the immune system secretes interleukin 6 (IL-6), which contributes to inflammation. IL-6 is also believed to cause autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia to worsen, to cause calcium to leave the bones, and to act as a growth factor for a number of tumors.
Get enough exercise
?Exercise is a wonderful immune booster and good for virtually every part of you! A program of regular, moderate exercise relieves stress and makes it easier for you to sleep at night.
Avoid alcohol and cigarettes
?Alcohol intake interferes with a variety of immune defenses. Research indicates that alcohol consumption is linked with certain types of cancers and infections. Cigarette smoke (inhaled or second hand) is saturated with toxic chemicals, most of which negatively impact immune response.
Avoid excessive sun exposure
?Unprotected sun exposure for longer than 15 minutes is linked with immune suppression. (This is why cold sores often appear following time spent in the sun.) Always wear a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. Be sensible though…a few minutes in the sun before 11:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m. will help your body produce vitamin D and not expose you to the risk of burns or immune problems.
Avoid exposure to pollutants and toxic chemicals
?Pollution is a major factor in immune suppression. Unfortunately, toxic chemicals are everywhere around us. Become informed! Learn to recognize harmful chemicals in the home and outside. Buy (or make) non-toxic cleaning fluids/sprays, and use natural cosmetics whenever possible.
Take Immune Fx
?Many mushrooms are recognized for their immune-enhancing properties. Medicinal mushrooms are a rich source of complex carbohydrates known as beta-glucans. One of the key functions of beta-glucans and other polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates) found in medicinal mushrooms is to stimulate the production of immune components that guard the body against foreign invaders and protect us from our own aberrant cells (cancer). Countless studies over the last 40 years have confirmed the ability of these polysaccharides to stimulate a variety of immune system components.

GENERAL WELLNESS TIPS
Staying as well as you can now will help you to take advantage of future advancements in medicine and anti-aging science. Here are some general wellness suggestions that everyone can benefit from in their quest for a healthier, longer life:

EXERCISE

When it comes to staying youthful and healthy, nothing is of more value than exercise. A well thought-out exercise program can:

  • Help slow the aging process
  • Improve flexibility
  • Firm sagging muscles
  • Guard against osteoporosis
  • Help you lose weight or maintain your ideal weight
  • Reduce the risk of injury from a fall
  • Lower your risk of diabetes
  • Alleviate stress
  • Ease arthritis
  • Stop depression
  • Make you feel that you have achieved something

Three kinds of exercise contribute to a well-rounded exercise program that fully benefits your body. These are aerobic activity, strength training and flexibility exercises. You don’t have to run a marathon every week to keep fit; most fitness experts agree that moderate, regular exercise is enough to keep your body in shape and your mind invigorated. Recent studies have indicated that the good effects of smaller amounts of activity/exercise undertaken throughout the day are cumulative.
Physical activity not only improves muscle tone and flexibility it also:

  • increases blood circulation, improving the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells
  • enhances the drainage of lymphatic tissue waste, thereby helping to remove toxins from the system, and
  • helps the digestive system to process food better, reducing bloating and constipation.
EATING WISELY
While eating is for most, an enjoyable activity, the constant intake of the wrong foods can quickly add up to a health problem. Generally speaking, you should avoid foods that are overly fatty (particularly hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils and fats of animal origin such as fatty meat cuts), those that are overly processed, (canned foods such as soups, pasta, gravies, sauces, etc.), and those that are overly sweetened. Artificial sweeteners are also a no-no for the truly health-conscious.

Here are some pointers on how to improve your dietary intake for maximum health:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink at least eight glasses of pure bottled or filtered water daily. Water keeps the body hydrated, which is essential for all organs and systems. (Excess consumption of strong diuretics such as drugs, coffee and certain black teas can increase your need for water.)
  • Avoid bad fats. Avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils (trans fatty acids) commonly added to refined foods as they have well-documented negative impacts on health.
  • Avoid sugar. Limit your intake of refined sugars including pasteurized honey. Refined sugars can lead to abnormal fluctuations in blood sugar resulting in mood swings, lowered immunity and lowered energy levels (fatigue). Try natural sugar (sucrose) alternatives such as stevia plant or licorice root extract.
  • Eat healthy fats. Increase your consumption of foods that contain the essential omega-3 fatty acids required by cell membranes to maintain structure and function. These omega-3 fats are particularly beneficial for the cardiovascular system and to help the body minimize inflammatory processes. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and hemp seeds – so try adding these seeds to your meal plans.
  • Add whole foods. Consume mainly “natural” foods. Fresh organically grown fruits and vegetables are loaded with phytochemicals (plant nutrients) and fiber, which help to fight free radical action (anti-aging action) and keep the digestive system “regular.”
  • Eat berries. Increase your dietary intake of organic berries (blackberries, saskatoon berries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, etc) as they are loaded with antioxidants that protect against aging and disease.
  • Improve digestion. Eat more slowly and chew your food extra well to improve digestion. As the body ages, it produces a reduced amount of enzymes and stomach acid. This hampers the body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients.
  • Add a multi. It is often difficult to maintain adequate nutrient intake in this fast paced world full of processed food; therefore, it may be wise to add a high-quality vitamin-mineral supplement to your wellness program.
  • Evaluate your digestion. If you suspect that you may have a digestive problem ask your healthcare professional about the CDSA test, a laboratory diagnostic tool used to determine overall digestive system health.
  • Perhaps the best and simplest advice is “Eat to live, do not live to eat” and “Less is more” – to be more precise “Less attachments = More Well-being”

     

KEEP YOUR HOME HEALTHY

Most people are aware of the impact of outdoor pollution. Smog, vehicle exhaust and pesticides are recognized as major health threats. But how many people recognize the many dangers inside their own homes? Sadly, very few. Yet our houses are full of irritants that can be absorbed through the lungs, skin, eyes and digestive tract.

Improved building standards have made newer houses almost airtight, increasing the amount of allergens, chemicals and pollutants in indoor air. This is particularly problematic in winter when windows are more likely to remain closed. The increased pollution of indoor air has been cited by many health specialists to be the most likely cause of a recent increase in respiratory diseases and conditions such as allergies and asthma. Other indoor pollutants include chemicals in new carpeting, harsh detergents and even grooming products and cosmetics. You can help reduce risk to yourself and your family by:

  • using as few chemicals as possible around the house. (Hair sprays, room sprays and other aerosols, oven cleaners, carpet stain removers and many furniture polishes frequently contain harsh chemicals.)
  • stay away from pesticides as they have proven severe negative impacts on health.
  • investing in an air purifier to help trap airborne pollutants and allergens.
  • watching what you put on your skin. Soaps, shampoos (particularly those that contain sodium lauryl sulfate) and many body lotions contain irritating and allergenic substances. If you don’t believe that your skin absorbs substances applied to it, try rubbing a garlic clove on the sole of your foot. Within a minute or so, you will taste garlic.
  • keeping bathrooms and other “damp” areas well ventilated. This will discourage the growth of harmful moulds. Clean bathroom walls and wash bathroom mats often.

RESPECT THE SUN

In recent years, much has been written about the dangers of sunshine. True, the sun can cause skin cancers and premature aging of the skin – particularly in fair-skinned people – but it also helps keep us healthy and happy. Vitamin D is created when the sun shines upon our skin, and vitamin D is essential to life. Some doctors have speculated that the recent increase in colon cancer incidence is due to the overuse of sunscreens. (By preventing the creation of vitamin D, which is essential for colon health, sunscreens may cause the colon to become weakened and more susceptible to disease.)

Sunshine also helps to elevate the mood. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of depression affecting those who live in areas where sunlight is restricted. If you are feeling low, go for a walk in the sunshine!

Develop positive attitude!

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