A strong immune system is paramount to a happy, healthy, worry-free life. The moment we are born, we are embarking on a journey to acquire an immune system to protect our bodies from the harmful microorganism. From babies suckling on their mothers’ milk, consuming nutritious food and drink, popping health supplements, to taking antibiotics or macrobiotics are all acts of enhancing one immune system. In fact, the health industry is a multi-billion dollar business worldwide that is only going to grow bigger annually as the world population continues to age. Aggressive advertisements led us to believe we need to spend loads of money on premium organic foods, expensive gym membership or exclusive retreats in order to attain healthy long life. The truth is it is a lot easier than we are led to believe.
Breathe, just breathe
What can we do to give our immune systems a boost without costing an arm and a leg? First of all, human counts on oxygen to live. We can survive for days without food or drinks but without oxygen, we are toast. Oxygen-deprived, the brain is dead in four minutes, cardiac arrest in sixteen minutes. Yet, most of us only take shallow breath most of the time. So before you jump on Dr. Oz’s superfood bandwagon, take a few deep breaths every day, as often as you can, and as long as you can hold it comfortably. It is completely free and available absolutely anywhere. Breathe in deeply, try to push the air deep into your belly and see your tummy rises, then breathe out slowly. Do not get all stress out over whether you are doing it correctly or not, just breathe! Every human is born knowing how to breathe instinctively! Do not sweat over it.
Needless stress is a huge immune system buster. Again, we are bombarded by advertisements daily, to be the perfect selves, perfect students, perfect mothers, perfect dads, perfect colleagues, perfect in every way. The truth is, there is no perfection, at least not in the forms advertising media has prescribed to us. Do not worry over insignificant stuff. If your year-old toddler is still sucking on a pacifier, just think how often do you ever see a first grader walking around with a pacifier in the mouth? Why worry whether your kid is ever going to outgrow pacifier? So, you have some cellulite showing or a little belly protruding. Who doesn’t, eventually? Can not afford a vacation away from home? You may be surprised to find there are many nice spots not far from your neighborhood you have yet to visit. Just ‘google’ for information. There is no need to subject ourselves to every society judgment at the expense of our health. Haters are just bunch of pathetic cowards who have nothing worthwhile in their own lives except to spy, envy, and critic others. If something is really troubling you, find a solution then work on it. Constantly worrying over it is not going to help the situation. Instead, find a few good buddies, laugh a little, play a little. Life is not meant to live in constant agony over trivial stuff.
Do take care of your skin. Our soft outer layer, encapsulating every bone, ligament, muscle, internal organs, nerve tissue, and cells, is our biggest defense system against external pathogens. Skin also plays an important role in body heat regulation, external stimulation sensory, water and lipids storage, Vitamin D generation, sweat and urea excretion, and aesthetics and social communication. So be nice to your skin. Keep it moisturized and avoid sun damages. Pay attention to cut and wound or abnormal skin lesion. Keep in mind that while we do want to keep pathogenic microorganisms at bay, our skin plays host to a variety of good bacteria and other skin flora that prevent harmful organisms from colonizing our skin surface, either by actually destroying them through chemical secretion, competing for nutrients, or stimulating the skin’s own immune system. So do think about whether do you really need to take that extra hot long bath, or dose yourself with antimicrobial hygiene solution. After all, the human has flourished on this planet for over 200 000 years without a drop of the super-duper antimicrobial lotion we are now so familiar with. Similarly, our stomach is full of beneficial microorganism that helps to keep us healthy, so take antibiotics only when it is absolutely necessary.
Do observe oral hygiene as taught in preschool or by your mother. Just like skin, healthy teeth, tongue, and gum prevent invasion of harmful microorganism. Food tastes a lot better and life is a little merrier too when you can chew thoroughly. So do not neglect your oral hygiene.
While exercise is important to a healthy immune system, do not let the word ‘exercise’ scare you. It does not have to involve hundreds of sit ups or chin ups at some fancy gyms. A daily nice half-an-hour stroll or jog around the neighborhood is sufficient for most. Too busy to exercise? Then try to incorporate active gestures into your daily routines. While brushing your teeth, you can squat, lift your legs alternately. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Park your car a little further from any entrance. Walk to your neighborhood grocery store and backpack your grocery home. Mopping, vacuuming the floor, and washing car are activities that engage your whole body, just try to stretch out your body and hands longer while doing them. Gardening is a good exercise too. Lift your heavy dutch pan or whatever handy over your head a few times while you are in the kitchen is quick and easy. Every now and then, relive your childhood, do a little skip, a little jump rope, or a little hula hooping and you are on the way to a healthier you.
Healthy Weight Control
Take it from this writer who has always been on the heavy side and genetically predisposed to high blood pressure. Weight control is crucial for a healthy immune system and an enjoyable life. If you are overweight or suffering from fat-shaming, instead of trying to reduce your weight, but continue to indulge in self-pitying or self-righteousness, you are not doing yourself a favor in the long run. Make up your mind now! You can either continue to shove food into your mouth and watch yourself swamp with mounting medical bills with every labored breath or starting this very minute, consciously cutting down consuming sugary, processed food and soda, embracing a healthier lifestyle and regain control of your life. Got discourage along the way? I certainly have, countless times. I just remind myself I did not become overweight in a few days, so do not expect to lose the weight overnight too. Be patient and be tenacious. If you lapse for a few days, it is not a game changer, just get back on to healthy eating and engage in moderate activities as soon as possible. After all, what do you have to lose?
What is healthy eating? According to a few nutrient experts, carbohydrate is the ultimate evil food group but ignoring the fact that, the Japanese people, daily consumers of rice, are the longest living people in the world with trim waistlines, or the cholesterol-defying, bread-eating Italians. Butter and oils are not as bad as it was thought to be. Juicing is so yesterday, bone broth is the new rage. The constant contradicting food advice is certainly confusing. The seemingly never ending exorbitantly priced super food is not helping either. Amid all the noises, we just have to ask ourselves is this the food our grandmothers used to cook and eat. If it is, then it is most likely safe for consumption, if it is not, better think twice before popping it into your mouth. If it contains ingredients only mad scientists can pronounce, steer clear. If you often eat out, try food from different ethnic groups to expose yourself to a wider variety of honest-to-God natural ingredients, herbs and spices. Have a Korean kimchi with ginseng chicken soup this week, Malaysian achat salad or bak-kut-teh the next, followed by Indian curry, Middle Eastern m’jadarrah, Russian veal orloff and so on. You get the idea.
Drug-Free and Sober
Organic, free range animal, and vegetarian food are nice to have, but staying drug-free, cut down on alcohol consumption and refrain from smoking give a better boost to the immune system. Cost effective too. Seek medical advice before a mild symptom balloon into a full blown sickness.
A strong immune system is attainable with a few minor adjustments in our daily routine if any. It does not have to be costly. Make a habit of deep breathing, observe personal hygiene, eat wisely and moderately, engage in physical activities, relax and enjoy life a little, and you will be surprised by the results in a few months.