Posted by : Dr.C Manoj Kumar,Chief Physician, Nagarjuna Ayurvedic Centre Kalady, Kerala
Date : Jul 02, 2021
Category : Ayurveda Treatment
Till the pandemic Covid 19 hit us, the word immunity, was just any other word without any major significance, even amongst the so called educated people. Thanks to Covid, it has become a common, household word, irrespective of whether people are educated or not, child or adult. Now everybody knows that there is a mechanism by which the body protects and fights harmful microbes, which coexist in this universe. This can also protect one from any type of modified or mutated versions of any microbe. This mechanism is immunity and it is explained as the biological system of the body to recognize and accept whatever belongs to the body and to recognize and reject everything that is foreign. When a disease causing factor comes in contact with the body to produce a disease, one’s immune system gets activated and it fights the invaded factor. If the immune system is strong enough, these enemies cannot cause any harm to the body.
A human body is made of trillions of cells. This basic structure, only visible under a microscope, has a nucleus to control its functions. It has a power generating system, multiplication capability and capability to duplicate its characters. Imagine how complex and sophisticated a cell is. A group of cells which has specific functions in the body form a tissue. In turn, these tissues form different organs and structures of the body. These organs, structures and its associated functions result in different systems of the body like respiratory system, circulatory system and so on. Likewise there are 10 different systems and all these put together form the human body.
Just like the sun is the protector of universe, the basic factor responsible for health and optimum immunity, according to Ayurveda, is Agni (Fire). In the body, this agni has broadly two functions, digestion (Jataragni) and metabolism (Dhatwagni and Bhootagni). When these two functions are balanced and at an optimum level, the food consumed is properly digested and broken down into the micro level. Thus at this micro level, the body can absorb the nutritious part and utilize it, excreting minimum metabolic wastes into the system. These wastes, thus generated, can be easily and completely removed through stool, urine and sweat on a daily basis. Due to this, each and every micro channel of the cells will remain fully open leaving the cells clean and clear.
This nourishment along with Prana, if available in sufficient quantity and quality, will maintain high activity in the body, at the cellular level. This in turn, improves the immunity and keeps it at an optimum level.
Health is not mere absence of a disease. It is the physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being. There are a few factors which promote immunity and every small activity adds to one’s health. But a few major factors are being enumerated here.
“You are what you eat”
Food plays a very important role in building the body. So extreme importance should be given to one’s choice of food.
Food should contain all six tastes. All these six tastes have their importance and they influence the functional principles of the body - Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Food should be light enough for easy digestion. Therefore cooked food is preferred over raw. Most vegetables, fruits, nuts, lentils can be classified under this category. It is always better to depend on seasonal fruits and vegetables to meet the body’s seasonal requirement.
Fish, eggs and white meat (like country chicken) can also be consumed. But it is healthier if taken occasionally, in moderate quantity, either steam cooked or grilled and never deep fried. That also includes vegetables.
Avoid all types of junk food, fast food and food items made of maida. Moderate all types of spices and masala. Milk diluted and boiled with equal quantity of water is better. Goat’s milk is lighter than cow’s milk. Buttermilk is healthier than curd, preferably seasoned with turmeric, curry leaves, fenugreek, dry ginger and a little salt. Ghee can be used in a moderate quantity while do avoid cheese, butter and paneer.
Drinking water can be boiled with dry ginger, coriander seeds or cumin depending upon the season and person. Drink water moderately (around 2 litres) and more when exposed to sun, in summer or when advised by the doctor. Avoid all kind of refrigerated, aerated and alcoholic drinks.
Incompatible mixes like fish and curd, cup of hot tea over an ice cream, fruit milkshakes etc should be avoided. Moderate the intake of sweets and desserts to special occasions. Avoid overnight, refrigerated and reheated food.
Maintaining regular timings for food is very important. The body gets used to the timings and releases the digestive enzymes at the specific time. This helps in better digestion and absorption. Ayurveda advocates eating twice a day. But now a days people are used to eating thrice a day -breakfast, lunch and dinner. So, never go beyond thrice until and unless you have a medical condition and your doctor has advised so. Early dinner is healthier and never eat until the previous meal is completely digested.
Never overeat than the required quantity. It is better to fill the stomach 1/2 with solid food, 1/4 with liquids and leave the remaining 1/4 empty, for easy and effective digestion.
Take time while eating and never be in a hurry. Apply all the senses while consuming food. See the food, smell it, feel it then taste it as you chew properly. This is very important to activate the cells to secrete the digestive juices adequately in time.
When one follows and applies the above principles regularly while consuming food, one’s digestive system will never be confused. The system predicts the type of food, when, how much and in what form it is going to come in. So the digestion process gets very much simplified. The body is well prepared to digest the food properly. As a result, food is broken down into micro particles and made available as nutrition for the cells resulting in minimum waste production.
Apart from food, sleep is another pillar which supports the human body. Sleep allows the brain and the body to slow down and assists them towards recovery. This promotes better physical and mental performance for the next day. Sleep is the only time when the physical body and the mind gets rest. It is the time when the body auto-repairs its damages or wear and tear at the cellular level. Human immune system and sleep are associated and influence each other. Sleep deprivation makes a living body susceptible to insanity and growth of many infectious agents. Sleep is important for the cell regeneration, immunity, hormones and mental stability.
We all have an internal biological clock which regulates the sleep and wake up cycle. The quality of sleep has a direct relationship with light and it responds to it. When there is less light or when it is dark, the brain is triggered to release the hormones responsible for sleep. That is why the time of sleep is very important. People who work night shifts always end up having issues related to sleep deprivation. In an adult, 7-9 hours of uninterrupted night sleep is essential for the desired benefits. Day sleep is contraindicated as it affects the quality of one’s metabolic activities. Habitual day sleepers and people sleeping in awkward positions become unhealthy. A short quick nap is permitted in certain conditions like summer, old age, pregnancy or if advised by doctor. It is always advisable to maintain a regular sleep and wake up timing to keep the body healthy. Sleep early and get up early.
Exercise is a regular physical activity that trains a body to enhance fitness, overall health and general well-being. Moderate exercise on a regular basis will help improve the quality of digestive and metabolic fire, sleep and immune system. An individual who indulges in regular and moderate exercise has got a very less chance of contracting respiratory infections. Exercise improves the blood circulation to every part of the body, including the cells. This improved circulation will help supply nourishment and oxygen adequately to the cell and also helps in removing the toxins for its optimal function. This will enable the cell to perform at its best to keep the immune system at its peak. One should not indulge in exercises way beyond one’s endurance.
This could lead to early wear and tear of the system and chance of injury is extremely high. So, use only half the strength to do exercises. Exercises like brisk walking, jogging, stretching and breathing exercises are enough to make the regime moderate and get the desired benefits. It can be performed either in the morning or in the evening.
Ayurveda opines that health is not merely physical. It is the balance of the body, mind and spiritual well-being. The mind follows the body and the body follows the mind. There are certain good practices (sad vritta) one has to follow to keep the conscious clean and mind peaceful. This also nourishes the entire body. It is called Achaara Rasayana. This instructs us not to indulge in violence, theft, infidelity, calumny, abusive language, lying, uttering rubbish, atheism and many more depending upon one’s culture and where one lives. Exist and live with mutual respect.
It is instructed that we should conquer the 6 enemies of the mind (Ari shad varga) as in lust, anger, greed, arrogance, delusion and jealousy.
Never have too much attachment and malice.
It is a therapeutic programme in Ayurveda to eliminate the accumulated metabolic and biological wastes from the cells. This process has three phases, preparatory, detoxification and rejuvenation.
In the preparatory phase, different kinds of fat in the form of ghee (internally) and oil (external) are selected depending upon the condition and administered. Depending upon the condition, different types of massages are done followed by application of heat. Oils are chosen after a detailed evaluation of the person and his condition. When the oil is applied, massaged on the body and heat administered, the potency, qualities and properties of that particular oil penetrates deep into the cells. Different oils and Ghees have different combination of herbs and have specific target cells to penetrate deep into. The application of heat after the oil brings the impurities from the cells to the gut.
In phase two, these impurities which have come to the gut are expelled by one or a combination of the five different cleansing procedures. These five procedures put together are called Panchakarma. This process will help clean the cells, to a great extent, from the metabolic wastes. It again helps open the micro channels of the cells and by enhancing the quality of digestion and metabolism, brings back the functional principles (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) into balance. This results in drastic improvement in digestion and metabolism. Each cell will get adequate supply of nourishment and oxygen resulting in the optimal functioning of tissues, organs, structures and systems of the body.
The third or the rejuvenation phase is to maintain and improve on the benefits achieved by eliminative therapies. This is also done through certain external therapies and internal medications. This process of rejuvenation is continued by the support of healthy diet, proper sleep and exercise throughout the year.
All these procedures if done properly will trigger one’s immune system and protect the body against diseases. The body has the inert intelligence to heal itself. Once we provide it with enough time and space the self-healing property of the body will kick in.
Author: Dr.C Manoj Kumar,Chief Physician, Nagarjuna Ayurvedic Centre Kalady, Kerala
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Nagarjuna Ayurvedic Centre Limited (NACL) is the treatment and allied services wing of Nagarjuna Ayurveda. Since its inception, NACL has been playing a vital role in promoting genuine curative health tourism. The first initiative under NACL was Nagarjuna Ayurvedic Centre, Kalady situated on the banks of river Periyar.