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How can women fortify their immune system?

This article is authored by Dr. Shweta U. Shah. A practicing homeopath, she follows a patient-centred perspective, emphasizing the benefits of natural remedies and herbs, homeopathy and whole food nutrition.

Your immune system does a fantastic job of protecting you from disease-causing agents. Then again, occasionally, the immune system may be a little unsuccessful – and a disease-producing pathogen or agent may invade your body and make you ill. So, the question is – can you intercede and boost the working of your immune system? Can diet, herbs, supplements, stress-busting techniques and lifestyle modifications help bring about a fool-proof, flawless immune response – being a natural immune system booster?

Nutrition for women is a very important topic; it is very vital that your immune system stays in top-notch form always, and the primary way to ensure that is through eating the right foods.

How different are women’s immune systems from men’s?

Research has time and again shown that women have a better immune response than men and appear to be in more robust health than men. Researchers speculate that microRNAs situated on the female X chromosome may be the reason for women’s stronger immune system. Clinical studies also expound that women enjoy a better ability to produce antibodies, compared to men.

5 natural immune system booster foods you ought to be eating

Here’s a list of foods which enhance the functioning of your immune system. They promise to bolster your immunity year-round and serve as storehouses of nutrition for women.

• Yogurt: Eat BreakfastYogurt is a natural immune system booster. It shores up the immune mechanism by proffering a generous dose of pro-biotics, i.e. friendly live bacteria which significantly improve your GI health. The powerful gut bacteria shield us from infections. The gut plays a crucial part in digestion and also has a strong bearing on the immune system functioning. Yogurt increases levels of beneficial lactobacilli and impedes the multiplication of inflammation-generating enterobacteria. Thus, amp up on yogurt – have a yogurt smoothie first thing in the morning or have fresh yogurt with granola for breakfast or raita with lunch.

• Vitamin C-packed foods: Vitamin C has been time-honoured for its immunity boosting property. Studies and clinical trials have been demonstrative of the fact that those who consumed foods loaded with the vitamin, every single day saw a significant reduction in the intensity and duration of infections. Vitamin C, a good source of nutrition for women, is a rather intimidating free radical scavenger and annihilator; it can destroys infectious and disease-causing agents and thwarts oxidative damage. A lack of vitamin C makes you more vulnerable to infections and illnesses. Oranges, lemons, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, guava, tomatoes, papaya, and gooseberries are excellent sources. Importantly, a daily intake of vitamin C is vital for good health, given that the body does not synthesize or store it.

• Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds are an amazing source of zinc; and zinc is an excellent natural immune system booster-of-a nutrient, combating bacteria and viruses and diminishing oxidative stress. Clinical trials also reveal that the zinc and the serotonin-boosting tryptophan in the seeds help bring down anxiety levels appreciably. Kickstart your day with a fistful of the seeds!

• Garlic: This potent natural infection fighter is loaded with the enzyme alliinase, which converts alliin to allicin, which helps fires up your immune mechanism. Allicin is most bio-available when consumed raw; so chop up a flake of garlic, blend with a little honey and consume.

• Turmeric: Radish Curcumin in turmeric is an anti-inflammatory agent and a robust anti-oxidant which encourages the activation of T cells – the chief fighting cells of the immune system. In fact, this beautiful yellow spice helps tackle most infections. A glass of haldi doodh promises to deal with a whole array of infections and even lifts your spirits when you’re feeling blue. Try Tata Sampann Haldi Powder which comes with minimum 3% curcumin guarantee. Start or end your day with a turmeric latte and also throw in liberal amounts of this spice into your dals, gravies, and curries.

Guidelines to reinforce your immune system

Your preliminary approach is to opt for a healthy lifestyle. Each and every organ system in your body functions optimally when fortified by healthy-living policies:

• Eat a ‘rainbow’ hued diet incorporating whole fresh produce instead of processed foods. Nutrition for women is very important, given the periodic hormonal shifts that take place in the female body. So, gorge on plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans and lentils.

• Exercise a minimum of 3 times a week; exercise greatly increases your resilience.

• Get good, sound sleep. You need 8 hours of quality sleep to stymie infections and chronic illnesses; so it’s crucial for you to prioritize sleep.

• Ensure that you have a normal body weight.

• Do not smoke.

• Steer clear of alcohol.

• Drink ample water through the day. Staying well hydrated enhances immune health, given that water helps manufacture lymph, which carries WBCs and the other immune system cells.

• Practice good hygiene.

• Deal with stress effectively. Continuous, relentless stress causes the body to manufacture increased amounts of cortisol - the stress hormone. High levels of cortisol increase your susceptibility to infections and are also instrumental in the development of hypertension as well as insomnia.

• Have a healthy attitude. A positive frame of mind is very essential for your good health and well-being. Experts affirm that happy and positive thoughts bring down levels of stress and inflammation as well as raise your hardiness to infections.

Now, while there’s no magic formula to make sure that your immune system works in top-grade form, these tried-and-tested ways do take your immune mechanism up a notch. Make these lifestyle changes and stay in the pink of health!


DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 

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Diet, exercise and sunlight: Three factors women shouldn’t ignore for good bone health

Dr. Dharini Krishnan

Dr. Dharini Krishnan
11 January 2021

This article is authored by Dr. Dharini Krishnan, an award-winning Consultant Dietitian, she believes that for a healthy body and mind, we must combine modern medicine with native Indian practices which are proven to benefit us.

Barring a significant injury or fracture, we rarely tend to think about bone health. Yet, for women, particularly those who are middle-aged or older, this is a vital concern because of the risk of osteoporosis.

In 2013, it was estimated that there were 50 million Indians who were osteoporotic or having low bone mass. Some studies have found that the prevalence of osteoporosis could be as high as 42.5% in women over the age of 50.

Osteoporosis and health complications

Eat Breakfast

Osteoporosis comes from the Latin for “porous bone”, and is a condition where bone tissue loses its density, and becomes weaker and more fragile. Such bones are easily susceptible to breaks, resulting in pain, disability and loss of functionality in everyday life.

Bones, which form the primary supporting framework of the body, grow from birth till our early twenties, which is the period of peak bone mass. Bone is an active tissue that undergoes regular replacement in conditions of health.

In osteoporosis, however, bone formation is outpaced by bone loss, leading to porosity or thinness of bone tissue and brittle bones. Such bones could easily be fractured even in the absence of significant trauma. Such fractures tend to reduce mobility and lead to increased hospitalization and dependence on others.

Why osteoporosis affects women more

Women are particular at risk for osteoporosis because they have lesser bone mass to start with. The geometry and structure of bone have also been increasingly recognized as important risk factors for fracture.

The risk of osteoporosis significantly rises during menopause because of the hormonal changes women undergo at the time. This is because estrogen plays a significant role in maintaining bone health, and the secretion of this hormone falls drastically during menopause.

The importance of protein and calcium in the diet

Skin Care

For some time now, awareness of the importance of calcium for bone health has been growing. Hence, women are advised to consume sufficient amounts of dairy, green leafy vegetables, soya products and nuts.

What many don’t realise is that sufficient levels of protein are just as important for strong bones. After all, protein makes up roughly 50% of bone volume and about one-third of its mass. Daily intake of protein is also necessary to provide the raw materials for bone formation. Unfortunately, research shows that the levels of dietary protein consumed by Indians are actually reducing.

For non-vegetarians chicken, fish and eggs are good sources of protein. For vegetarians, pulses are one of the primary sources of protein, along with dairy products. Daily intake of protein in at least two major meals of the day, particularly in healthy forms such as sambhar or dal is, therefore, vital.

The role of exercise and sunlight

Eat Breakfast

Bone health also requires good muscle health. This makes it necessary to undertake moderate exercise as often as possible. A 45-minute walk six days a week as well as resistance training using the body weight, such as surya namaskaras, can go a long way to building muscles. Importantly, the body also requires Vitamin D to mobilize calcium for bone health. Hence, exposure to peak sunlight between 11am and 3 pm at least twice a week is also vital for bone health.

Osteoporosis can be a serious health problem that disrupts life and limits mobility, particularly for women. However, a healthy diet, rich in calcium and protein, together with exercise, can go a long way in maintaining bone health.



DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 

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