By Dr Rachna Pande
Sixty to seventy years ago, various infections and diseases had no medical cure. Today numerous medicines are available for prevention and cure. Medical science has advanced and kidneys and hearts can be replaced. In spite of the medical advancement, however, people are dying from many diseases.
In developing countries, overcrowding, malnutrition, lack of safe drinking water, e.t.c. are considered causes of disease. However, even with good sanitation, good housing, safe drinking water and highly advanced medical facilities in these advanced countries, diseases still claim lives. Nature has provided every living being with some defense mechanism called the immune system. This happens to be most advanced in human beings. It consists of special cell types which prevent entry of and multiplication of harmful microbes in the body. They also destroy cancer cells invading the body. The bone marrow, thymus, spleen and lymph nodes are body parts principally involved in the immunity of the body, through various mechanisms. Skin and mucosa (lining of most organs) form the first line of defense. A human body can recognize foreign harmful substances entering the body and tries to eliminate it or contain it. There are mechanical means to expel foreign substances like coughing, sneezing and sweating. All body secretions like saliva, tears, genital fluids, e.t.c. contain chemicals which protect against harmful germs. Human beings su!er from infectious and other diseases now because this natural immune system has been compromised.
Malnutrition, particularly protein deficiency reduces body’s immunity because antibodies which try to combat the infection are mostly made of proteins. Deficiency of vitamins like Vitamin C, folic acid, essential micronutrients like zinc, copper, and selenium is also responsible for reducing the disease fighting ability of the body. Obesity another form of malnutrition also deranges the immune system. Smoking and chronic exposure to smoke and fumes impairs the immunity by causing chronic irritation of the protective inner layers of the body. Along with technical development in the past 50 or 60 years, human beings are now exposed to more than 1000 di!erent kinds of chemicals. In some way these chemicals have added to the physical comforts but have harmful e!ects on the human body.
Synthetic pesticides both organo phosphorus compounds and carbamates used to kill pests damage the immune system. Chemicals added to processed foods like antibiotic and hormone treated meat products, preservatives used in various, ‘ready to eat’ foods, have proved to be harmful to the body’s immunity. The list is endless. In short, we are exposed to many chemicals in the environment around us that potentially reduce body’s ability to fight diseases. What can we do to boost our immune system in the face of the disintegration caused by increased development?
Good sleep is essential for boosting the immune system, but the stress of modern life has deprived many people of this.
A balanced nutritious diet including proteins, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, particularly omega 3 fatty acids, essential micronutrients is useful to maintain and boost body’s immune system. Fresh green leafy vegetables, onions, carrots, fruits, fish, walnuts, soya bean, garlic, honey are some of the food substances very useful in this regard.
“Going organic”’ is the mantra of the day to avoid harmful e!ects of chemicals. This ensures fresh vegetables. Manure and pesticides used should be organic, i.e. not chemical. Avoid fast and processed foods. Try to consume food prepared from scratch, i.e. absolutely fresh. Deep fried foods like chips, cutlets, etc. are not healthy and should be used only once in weeks or months.
Plastics and polythene are harmful for the environment as well as human health. There is no substitute for a disciplined healthy life for improving the immune system, which includes adequate physical exercise, balanced diet and a stress free mind. Good health will prevail only when men conquer majority of diseases and this shall be possible only when we boost our immune system so that our bodies are enabled to resist disease.TSM