What Is Bad for Your Immunity?
Nowadays, there's undeniably a lot of focus on what should be done to improve one's immunity. We are constantly adopting new habits and new lifestyle changes to boost or strengthen our immunity. But, for the sake of understanding the concept of immunity, let's travel to ancient India and look at the lives of our ancestors.
The role of nutrition on immunity
The lives of our grandparents and farmers living in ancient India were simple and happy, as they put it. They barely tried to ‘boost’ their immunity, rarely ever fell sick, and ate the simplest foods. They weren't consuming any protein shakes or supplements. They stayed active throughout the day, slept well, and followed a simple, balanced diet. Their happiness quotient was higher than the current generations too. This, in essence, serves as an excellent example to show how a wholesome, nutritious, and balanced diet can be so powerful for your immunity and overall health.
Fad dieting and falling immunity
This cannot be stressed enough – fad dieting does not work. Period. Instead of helping your body in any way, it leads to a plethora of problems and several nutritional deficiencies. A lot of people get sucked into how attractive these diets look when they advertise weight loss, but what they don't realise is that they also lose health and immunity, along with hastening the ageing process with the wrinkling of skin and loss of hair.
If you do not provide proper nutrition to your body in the form of good and wholesome meals, then the hair and skin lose their shine and appear pale. Losing weight to achieve a fitness goal is always encouraged – not only for one to feel better about themselves but also for several health reasons. But there is always a right and a wrong way to lose weight. One shouldn't be punishing their body by subjecting it to any extreme or unnecessary measures. Many people often complain of ailing health, and upon a study of their history and dietary patterns, it becomes easy to figure out that most of these people have been on some kind of fad diets in the past, which eventually resulted in their immunities taking a bad hit.
Foods that suppress immunity
Sugar – Amongst foods that suppress immunity, sugar tops the list. Since most junk foods are laden with white sugar, it's not surprising to see today's generation's immunities running low, as their consumption of junk food is usually high. And one needs to understand that the effects of white sugar extend beyond weight gain and diabetes.
Too much sugar compromises the immune system, making children and adults alike susceptible to almost any disease, including cancer. The much safer sugar alternatives are pure & raw honey, jaggery, coconut sugar, dates, date syrup, liquid jaggery (also known as kakvi in India).
Refined Oils and Trans Fats – Trans fats, hydrogenated fats, and refined oils also play quite an instrumental role in suppressing one's immunity. They also create more inflammation and generate free radicals. This, however, doesn't mean that fats are bad for you. As essential as they are for one's immunity, the fact remains that choosing the right kind of oils/fats is what that eventually matters. One must opt for cold-pressed and unrefined oils like cold-pressed coconut oil, mustard oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, etc. Another good source of fats is ghee (clarified butter) that has been ethically procured from A2 cows – it's healing in every way and aids immunity. Butyric acid found in ghee is a group of short-chain fatty acids, which are beneficial to the gastrointestinal tract. Consuming foods that are high in butyric acid helps digestion, boosts immunity, lubricates joints, fights gut inflammation, and improves overall health.
Alcohol – It is acidic, causes inflammation in the intestines, and also becomes a burden on the liver (which plays a huge role in maintaining immunity and detoxification). The liver also produces an important master antioxidant called Glutathione, but at the same time, a compromised liver function affects the production of this antioxidant. Alcohol is also dehydrating in nature and can rob a body of important minerals. Alcohol also wipes out the good gut bacteria, which are critical to immunity.
Junk & processed foods – They fill the stomach, sure. And they are tasty too, that's also there. But these foods are deprived of the very nutrients that feed the immune system of a body.
Antibiotics are designed to be broad-spectrum in nature, which means that they're not able to differentiate between good and bad bacteria. Which is why, antibiotics wipe out the gut of all the good bacteria, which impacts one's immunity. This is also why people suffer from acidity or constipation after a course of antibiotics. To deal with this problem, a doctor usually prescribes an antacid to be taken along with the antibiotics, according to the protocol. While this helps in suppressing acid formation, it still goes on to pose a bigger problem, which is poor gut health (like low stomach acids, causing malabsorption of proteins & nutrients), which has everything to do with one's immunity.
Therefore, it's vital for your doctor to also prescribe a probiotic supplement along with an antibiotic course to replenish the loss. Along with this, B-complex supplements should also be prescribed by the doctor since the B-vitamins also get wiped out.
So, it's clear – the more we move away from a wholesome diet to packaged & junk foods that barely provide us with any nutrients or energy; the greater risk we inflict upon our immune systems. Our immunity-related needs are simple and pretty basic. A good, balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, beans, lentils and good fats is what your body and immune system need. You may also require additional supplementation of a vitamin or a mineral if your doctor feels the needs for it in your body, especially in cases of sickness or treatments that remove essential nutrients from the body.
Indiscriminate usage of antibiotics – Antibiotics happen to be some of the commonly popped pills. While they're essential in treating certain bacterial infections like Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), consuming these pills without fully understanding their consequences or eating them like they're candy, should be stopped.
Fix your sleep routine: A good night’s sleep will always help you to maintain a healthy weight. Middle-aged women need at least seven hours of sound sleep at night to make the body and mind fully relaxed. By fixing a time to sleep your mind and body will develop a habit of sleeping at a particular time and would wake up refreshed and active.
Nurture your emotional self: Living with obesity is itself a struggle and thus one has to keep a lot of calm while managing its effects and dealing with repercussions. Besides, nurturing the physical side one has to keep watering the emotional side with a lot of compassion and self-love to be able to keep moving. Meditation, self-love and indulging in activities like writing, spending time alone, listening to music helps to nurture the emotional self.
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