What is Immunity Power And Why Is It Important In Today's World
by Dr. Surya Bhagwati on Dec 28, 2020
Whether you travel in crowded local trains, workout in the gym, or visit the neighborhood ATM, there’s no avoiding exposure to germs. After all, public travel, use of public services, and simply stepping outdoors brings you in contact with surfaces and air that contains germs. Despite this fact, most of us rarely fall ill and so we don’t even give it much thought. However, the reason for your good health at most times is the work of your body’s in-built defense system – immunity. That’s what people now colloquially refer to as ‘immunity power’.
What is Immunity Power?
To be fair, there is no such thing as ‘immunity power’, as this is a colloquial or pop culture term for immune strength or healthy immunity. So, to be more ‘correct’, it would be best to refer to this as immunity or the immune system. Irrespective of what you call it, the immune system plays a vital role in shielding you against infection and illness.
The immune system works through a variety of mechanisms and is actually a complex system, involving various organs and cells of the body working together. Some of these parts include the skin, which is the external barrier, mucus, which also works as a barrier, the human gut microbiome, and the lymph system, which includes the spleen, bone marrow, and lymph nodes.
Without getting too technical, there are some basic features of the immune system that everyone should be aware of. This includes white blood cells, which are also described as leukocytes. There are other types of white blood cells that are referred to as phagocytes and some as lymphocytes. These are the two types that you aught to know about. For the sake of simplicity, we can say that phagocytes envelope or consume invading pathogens, while lymphocytes help with the recognition and memory of such foreign invaders and can also destroy them.
There are actually different types of both phagocytes and lymphocytes, working to fight off infections and preventing some from recurring.
How the Immune System Works
When your immunity power is strong or you have a healthy immune system, the body works efficiently to detect and defeat foreign pathogens. These threatening pathogens are known as antigens and your immune systems works and learns to recognize and fight them. Some lymphocytes, known as B lymphocytes respond by producing antibodies or immunoglobulins, which are a type of protein. They lock on to specific antigens, helping fight off the infection. In most cases, these antibodies remain in our bodies even after we have overcome or recovered from an infection, allowing the immune system to recognize and fight the infection again should you be exposed to it again.
This is why, with some diseases, you only fall sick once and are unlikely to suffer from illness again. A good example would be chickenpox. This is also the same principle on which immunization or vaccination works, exposing the body to an antigen in safer way that does not produce illness, but allowing the immune system to produce antibodies so that if exposed to the pathogen later, your immune system can keep you safe.
Importance of Immunity Power Today
Thanks to modern medicine, population growth has increased as people live longer and there are much lower infant mortalities. However, modern medicine’s greatest failing is that it is disease or treatment oriented, rather than health oriented. Preventative care has largely been neglected, so while medical and technological advances have increased life expectancy, quality of life has started to suffer. We are more disease prone than ever before, with urban lifestyles, excessive use of medications, and processed diets resulting in weakened immunity.
At the same time, the population explosion, deforestation, climate change, industrial farming, and modern livestock practices have led to a much higher risk of exposure to new disease-causing pathogens. This risk has only been highlighted in recent decades with the SARS and MERS outbreaks, and most recently, the coronavirus pandemic. So, while we have been embracing lifestyle and dietary habits that weaken immunity, we have also been degrading the environment and increasing our exposure to new and more dangerous types of pathogens. This is why it has become increasingly important for all of us to take a page from Ayurved and work to strengthen immunity.
Ayurved has long emphasized the importance of immunity, offering a wide range of immunity boosting herbs and medicines, while also stressing the need for harmonious living with the natural world. As Indians, we are blessed with these rich traditions and if we would only dig deeper into the pages of Ayurved, we would find solutions to much of these modern-day woes.
Simple Tips To Strengthen Immunity Power
- Nutrition is the cornerstone of strong immunity, making it important to eat in adherence with the Ayurvedic recommendation for natural foods instead of processed foods. Natural foods are nutrition dense and are low in sugar and do not contain trans fats, which are found in processed foods and are associated with weak immunity.
- Maintaining the optimal balance of doshas is another important facet of boosting immunity that is often neglected. This requires eating a diet and using herbs that support your natural dosha balance. This is best achieved with the help of an Ayurvedic doctor.
- Weight control is also important for good immunity power as obesity is associated with an increased risk of infection. This has become most obvious with the coronavirus pandemic as overweight and obese individuals tend to develop more serious illness and higher mortality rates.
- A sedentary lifestyle is also linked to suppressed immune function, making it important to maintain an active lifestyle. At the same time, over exercising has also been shown to weaken immunity. This makes yoga and other mild to moderate exercise forms the best choice.
- Take up meditation and other stress reduction activities to relax as higher stress levels are known to suppress immune function, increasing the risk of infections and other diseases.
- Practice the dinacharya or daily routine as per the teachings of Ayurved as this strengthens the circadian rhythm, which also influences immune function.
- Although, our modern lifestyle is obsessed with productivity, you should make it a point to devote adequate time to sleep. High quality sleep on a regular basis can help to fortify immunity, significantly reducing the risk of infections.
- You can always count on Ayurvedic herbal supplements and immunity boosters to increase immunity power. Some of the best herbs for the purpose include tulsi, giloy, ashwagandha, amla, haridra, and jyesthimadhu, among others.
- Ayurvedic practices or therapies like panchakarma, which are administered at Ayurvedic clinics can also help to detoxify the body and reset your immune system, so that you are better defended against possible infections.
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