When disease-causing germs come in contact with the body, they try to produce diseases. The power of the body which prevents the development of diseases or resists a developed disease, is called Immunity. In ayurveda, it is known as - Vyadhikshamatva - capacity to resist diseases. Bala - which literally means "strength" – is the ayurvedic term for immunity.
Bala goes far beyond the present day concept of physical immunity. Besides physical immunity, it includes psychological and spiritual immunity. Bala provides endurance against any disturbance.
Types of immunity
Ayurveda has always believed that prevention of diseases is as important as or rather more important than its management. Being born to healthy parents bestows certain immunity - "sahaja bala" - immunity by inheritance. The other important factor that dictates immunity is seasonal vagaries and is termed as "kalaja bala" [immunity bestowed by seasonal and circadian variation].
"Yuktikruta bala" [strategies to improve immunity] represents acquired immunity, in which disease can be defended. Some factors that determine the state of one's immunity are:
- Health of parents
- Quality and quantity of food consumed by the expectant mother, lactating mother and then the individual.
- Immunity bestowed by being born in the right season
- Environmental conditions of the country or region
- Age of the person
- Physical and psychological state
- The physique - proportionate or disproportionate
- Natural lifestyle
- Seasonal vagaries.
Immunity differs in people
People sharing the same climate, parents, food and air exposed to similar causative factors do not react similarly. While diseases afflict some, some are unaffected. Infection can manifest as diseases, if the body is not strong enough to fight them off.
Do you suffer from any of these...
- Recurrent infections
- Often troubled by headaches, cold, cough, fevers, allergic rashes or sneezing.
- Easily tired and over stressed
- Excessive physical or mental exertion
- Irregularities in lifestyle
- Diminished or irregular appetite.
If you have the above symptoms, then you need to take action.
Perk up your immunity
Ayurveda proposes a daily and seasonal regimen to keep the body healthy. Staying up or working till late hours, irregular eating, excessive snacking, exposure to stress or fatigue, and sleeping during the day affect the digestion and circadian rhythms.
- Regular exercises like yoga, jogging, walking and swimming promote immunity. Yogic asanas, pranayama and dhyanas are highly recommended. To gain maximum benefits choose exercises that best suit you.
- Organically grown, freshly made and easy-to-digest foods are suggested. Dairy products like milk, ghee, yogurt and home-made cheese in appropriate quantities are said to be beneficial to all. Seasonally grown fruits and vegetables are also good.
- Processed and packaged food should be avoided. Frozen, fried or canned foods having preservatives are best avoided. However food that you have been eating all your life should not be changed all at once.
- If you are planning a family, ensure that you adopt proper nutrition and natural lifestyle, to enhance immunity of the offspring. Keep away from smoking, alcohol and drugs to beget a healthy and happy child. The mother's attitude during and after pregnancy has a major impact on the baby's immunity. Mothers-to-be should hear or sing melodious songs, read sacred books, wear beautiful and comfortable clothes, adorn herself with fragrant flowers, ornaments and always be in a happy and serene atmosphere. Being creative and engaged in productive-but-light activities is highly advocated.
Hence, it important to follow a daily routine for the digestive system and other bodily rhythms to work smoothly, thus keeping our immunity high.
Some of them are:
- Waking early has many benefits
- Give yourself a warm oil massage daily followed by a warm shower or bath. This stimulates the organs of the body, flushes out impurities, and builds resistance to stress and disease
- Daily prayer of any sort has been found to reduce frequency of falling sick and hospitalisation
- Having meals together is beneficial
- Wear light fabrics in summer and warm thick clothes in winter
- Transition between seasons puts stress on the immune system and makes you more susceptible to illness. Take extra care of yourself during these transitions
- Seasonally, Ayurveda recommends precise food, lifestyle variations and cleansing called panchakarma, rasayana [exclusive herbo-mineral preparations] to boost immunity.
Ayurveda focuses on encouraging individuals to increase their immunity through natural means. Its simple strategy - "Favour nature and nature will support you!"
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