The main 5 factors which determine and affect Immunity are Diet, Lifestyle, Sleep, Physical Activity, and Hygiene-Protection
- Eat a nutritious diet containing good amounts of Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Protein, Vitamins (A, B group, C, D, E), and Minerals (Zinc, Selenium, and Iron).
- Certain herbs and spices as part of the diet may be beneficial for enhancing immunity.
- Adequate amounts of water intake for good hydration is important, with a recommended intake of at least 10 glasses (2.5 liters of preferably lukewarm water daily).
- Stress, fear, and tension cause a lot of consumption of nutrients and release steroids in our body which suppresses the immune system. Therefore stress management is key to maintaining optimal immunity.
- Smoking or Tobacco chewing can also have suppressive effects on immunity.
- It is essential to get 8 hours of undisturbed sleep at night on most days. (Stress and lack of sleep are often inter-related and can form a vicious cycle, each increasing the other.)
- Regular and appropriate physical exercise which makes you feel energetic and refreshed is associated with improving one’s immunity.
- Exercise should not be exhausting, more vigorous than what one is used to, cause body pain/injury, or be performed in an adverse environment. In such cases, it induces stress which can have adverse effects on immunity.
- If starting a new physical exercise regime, increase the rigor and duration gradually, perform suitable warm-ups- cool-downs, and stop if body signals fatigue or stress.
- Some of the appropriate regular physical exercises include walking, jogging, and swimming, or indoor exercises like Yoga (including breathing exercises like Pranayama), performing stretches, walking on the treadmill, aerobics, and cycling.
- Include physical exercise for at least half-hour daily for 5 days in a week along with simple breathing techniques
Hygiene and Protection
- Cleanliness and Hygiene in simple daily habits go a long way in minimizing infections and improving community health. These include proper bathing and cleaning of body parts, wearing clean clothes, washing hands before meals and after coming from outside, regular brushing of teeth, covering nose and mouth while coughing and sneezing, not spitting or throwing garbage in public and maintaining clean surroundings.
- It is important to make sure that children and those at risk like the elderly and people with health conditions are immunized according to the recommended vaccination schedule to protect them from the more severe and serious infections.
- Certain practices like giving antibiotics for common viral infections, lack of regular exposure to fresh air or sunlight, and living in unventilated/AC houses can actually have a suppressive impact on the immune system.
- During an epidemic or pandemic, it is advisable to follow regulations by health authorities related to restricted travel, social distancing, and hygienic measures to enable protection and curtailment of rapid disease spread.
Note: Taking supplements of one or a few dietary ingredients as ‘Immune-Boosters‘ may not be really beneficial in the absence of a holistically healthy lifestyle, and in fact, can give a false sense of complacency. Therefore, it is best to take these supplements under a physician’s guidance or recommendation, in situations of dietary or physical activity restrictions, malnourishment, nutritional deficiencies on lab testing, convalescence, specific risk factors or medical conditions.