In health and disease, we are what we eat, how we live, and how we think. Mankind has survived many adversities since the Stone Age with its cumulative wit and survival strategies. The recent wake of the COVID19 pandemic presents another acid test to the human race, especially to its frail. The only thing stood tall between the human race and their extinction is their immunity. We cannot quantitatively measure our immune power but qualitatively increase it for sure, by certain foods and habits.
A: Antioxidants protect us against free radical injury and helps in DNA repair. Available in wide array of colorful vegetables like leafy greens, watermelon, red bell pepper, carrots, berries, broccoli, oranges, kiwi, and all brightly colored, they should comprise most of our diet.
B: Booze has to be cut down to minimal. Alcoholism is associated with micro aspiration, which can aggravate any viral pneumonia, underlying liver disease and cardiovascular problems, very common in chronic alcoholics, which makes it difficult for them to come out from critical lung conditions. Not only chronic drinking, but binge drinking can also impair the immune system
C: Vitamin C, best available from Citrus fruits, provides us with antioxidants and helps to keep the mucosal barriers intact. Instead of artificial formulations try to have fresh fruits.
D: Vitamin D, deficiency of which is clearly linked with deranged immune response. So get your Vit D levels above optimum range, and spend at least 15-20 minutes in the sun each day.
E: Exercise can only keep someone in the best shape and good health. At least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week has to be dedicated to aerobic exercise. The rooftop will be a good alternative at this stage of lockdown. Gardening is another good option to consider.
F: Fresh Vegetables should be the only reason you may venture outside once weekly with adequate protection and don’t forget to wash the veggies properly before you cook.
G: Green Tea, Ginger, Garlic - always available in our kitchens and have known for boosting the immune system since time immemorial.
H: Hydration is the best way to keep the body working in these challenging conditions. Tissues in repair need to be hydrated with adequate fluid balance. However, people with renal or heart failure, should adhere to their respective regimes.
I: Immunosuppressive agents ( Read Steroids ) misuse/ over the counter/ prolonged use as a prescription drug can suddenly flatten the body’s immune response and make us prone to have complications. Those on it due to conditions must avoid exposure to the infected.
J: Junk Food, the less the better. Other than the known metabolic disorders, any gastroenteritis can complicate the course of viral pneumonia, as our experience from measles says.
K: Kidneys, a healthy pair of which helps the body to process the toxic waste as well as the acid and volume status. An already failed / suddenly failing kidneys can be critical for survival. So NSAIDs, nephrotoxic drugs are a strict no.
L: Laughter, the best medicine till there’s a vaccine. Natural killer cells are boosted and bolstered after a good laugh. So get glued to those legends from Chaplin.
M: Meditation, the best way for inner healing and reducing stress. Controlled breathing exercises, talking to a good friend or therapist, listening to pleasant music helps in rejuvenation of body and mind.
N: Nicotine is immunosuppressive. No Smoking and no further elaboration on this. Smokers can have a rough time in this pandemic.
O: Optimism, seeing the glass half full than seeing it half empty, changes perspective. Too much involvement in seeing the incidence and mortality of the disease scenario may affect you mentally and physically. Avoid watching a lot of news and watch something positive.
P: Personal hygiene, should be embraced like a religion in this situation. Hand washing is to be mastered like an art. A clean you, a clean home and a clean society invites much less danger.
Q: QT interval, a particular segment in ECG can be critically increased if you medicate your self with chloroquine/ hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin. So again, avoid self-medication. Being susceptible from cardiac aspect is never a good point from an immunity point of view.
R: Risk Factors like advanced age, Diabetes, Hypertension, heart conditions, Malignancy, Transplant - all compromise our immune response. People with comorbidities must take extra precautions. Adult immunization is a must for them.
S: Sleep deprivation impairs immune response. Sleeping less than 5 hours a night could be dangerous and increases the risk of getting flu by almost 4 times. Avoid screens, night eating and exercise before bedtime. Try to sleep for at least 7 hours, an hour extra recommended for the fairer gender.
T: T cells, the helper and suppressor faction of which are in fine balance in immunity. In autoimmunity or infection, they lose that balance. Our whole target of being well comes to the endpoint of our T cells performing well under stress (i.e. when the body is attacked by an external entrant like virus or bacteria).
U: UV rays, the less the better for our immunity and survival. Avoid long exposures to the harsh sun, blue screens, and radiation exposures.
V: Vitamins and Minerals play the roles of cofactors in all our enzyme functions. Again fresh fruits and vegetables are the saviors.
W: Wuhan? No, W for We ! a sense of well being comes from a healthy support group. Mental and physical healing is best when we are with our loved ones. This lockdown is giving us enough time to spend with family and to create moments to cherish forever.
X: Xtra Salt, again which has been forbidden to keep our renin-angiotensin system healthy.
Y: You are what you read. Good books will heal and pacify you in these troubled times like a friend.
Z: Zinc, a special mention to this show stopper. Foods that are rich with zinc can work wonders.
Now that you are aware of the A-Z of immunity, pass on this to friends and family.
Wishing you all the pink of health! Stay safe, stay strong!