Tips on Boosting Your Immunity
The Immunity Concept
The concept of immunity has been intriguing for mankind for centuries. Born with a basic immune system that’s usually weak, through regular interaction with environmental microbes and in our gut, we humans learn to fight against new bacteria, which in turn strengthens our immune system. Immunity essentially is a state of being not being vulnerable to a particular disease or the like, by way of natural or acquired resistance.
Immunity is further conceptualized into 2 categories: Active Immunity which occurs when our own power of resistance protects us from a pathogen, while Passive Immunity is one where we are protected from a pathogen by immunity we gain from someone else. Over the last 40 years or so, extreme microbicidal use in terms of lack of constant interaction with plants, soil and other organisms, and hygiene have led to a gradual depletion of our immunity, despite the fact that our overall health and lifespan have only increased.
Factors Impacting Immunity
Albeit genetics have a significant role in the way our immune systems are impacted, the strength of our immunity is also characterised by non-inheritable factors largely. For instance, an imbalanced diet, excess of processed sugar and additives weaken the immune system; eating disorders like anorexia can lead to nutritional imbalances, excess of alcohol, irregular sleep patterns, an increased stressed lifestyle, obesity, chronic medication and dehydration are some significant factors that negatively impact our immunity. Having identified the negatives, if we are to strengthen our immunity then a well-balanced diet, a regular exercise routine, regular detoxification, increased use of natural remedies, herbs and spices can help go a long way in keeping our immune systems healthy.
Building Your Immunity with Natural Remedies
Natural remedies always have a better chance or strengthening our immune system than strong medication. For instance, Kadha – a traditional Indian drink/herbal tea is an effective measure against the seasonal flus, cough and cold. Made of herbs and spices, it serves as a natural immunity booster loaded with antioxidants. The herbs and spices used in a Kadha are largely dependent on the kind of ailment you’re hoping to recover from.
A Kadha can be sipped multiple times during the day and even be stored. Some of the best natural remedies that can help build a healthy immune system include beginning your day with Tulsi, ginger and Pippali for cleansing your upper respiratory tract, including turmeric and black pepper in your meals daily, minimising the intake of red meat or processed food, drinking warm water and staying hydrated, as well as maintaining a good personal hygiene, in addition to consumption of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Immunity Boosting Kadha Recipes
Echinacea Herbal Concoction
Echinacea has been in use for a long time in prevention of winter ailments and as an effective immune system stimulant. It also activates chemicals that reduce inflammation in the body, and contains compounds that attack fungi and yeast directly. Echinacea tea can be made with either fresh or dried leaves.
For Echinacea Herbal Concoction you’d require ¼ cup of Echinacea dried leaves, 1 tsp dried lemongrass and 1 tsp dried mint. To prepare the concoction mix all these herbs together with 1 cup of boiling water and allow it to steep for about 15 minutes. Once done, have it naturally or put some honey in it.
Rich in essential nutrients like Vitamins A, C and E, Rosehip is a perfect remedy for treating flu, colds and other ailments that include stomach upsets, ulcers and intestinal disorders, relief from constipation, kidney problems, back and leg pain. Rosehip can also help lose weight and increase blood flow. A rosehip herbal tea requires 4 cups of water, 4 tbsp dried rosehip, and sugar to taste.
To make rosehip tea, boil 4 cups of water and add rosehip to it, covering the mix, and brewing it at low-medium heat, stirring gently for about 8 minutes. Add sugar to the liquid and stir until it dissolves completely. Switch the flame off and let the mix stay covered, set aside for 10 minutes. Have it hot or at room temperature. Although rosehip can be ingested as tea, or included in soup and jams, the vitamin content in it can be destroyed with excessive cooking, processing or drying for long periods.
Immunity Boosting Elderberry
Small, dark and purple, Black Elderberries are good for use in baked food, jellies, pies or used dried in teas, syrups and tinctures for medicinal purposes. Administered at the onset of illness, elderberry can shorten the impact and duration of cold and flu, owing to the high level of vitamins A, C and its antioxidant & flavenoid content. With a naturally sweet flavor of its own, you can have elderberry on its own or with some amount of raw honey.
For Elderberry Tea, you require 3 glasses of filtered water, 2 tbsp dried elderberry, ¼ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp haldi and 1 tsp raw honey. To begin with, put the water and elderberry in a small saucepan on heat and then add haldi and cinnamon to it. Once the water comes to boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Switch the flame off and let the concoction cool for about 5 minutes, straight and then pour, stir in raw honey to taste and have it.
Also known as fevergrass or citronella, Lemongrass is actually a tropical plant native to India and South Asia. With a fresh citrusy fragrance and taste it grows in a tuft. Rich in antioxidants, this Asian beverage helps revitalise your immune system with each sip and comes with anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory benefits. It should however be avoided by pregnant women or those using prescribed diuretics.
For lemongrass kadha, you need 2-3 lemongrass stalks (fresh or dried), 3 cups of water, sugar to taste, lemon slice (optional) and black tea bag (optional). Heat some water in a pan and add lemongrass to it. Bring the water to a boil and then allow it to simmer for 10 minutes covered. Switch the heat off and strain the tea, serve it with a slice of lemon and sugar to taste, if you’d like.
Herbal Tea for Chest Congestion
An ayurvedic herbal decoction, a Kadha is packed with herbs and spices that help naturally heal the body from disease, toxins and helps build and maintain immunity. To make a Kadha, you’d require ½ tsp kali mirch powder, ½ inch peeled ginger, ½ tsp black tea leaves, ½ tbsp. kala namak, ½ tbsp. chaat masala and juice of 1 lemon with sugar to taste. Measure 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil, add the kali mirch, kala namak, chaat masala and sugar and lightly beaten ginger to the pot and allow the liquid to boil further for 5 minutes. Next, add the tea leaves and continue boiling for 5 more minutes. Switch the heat off, add lemon juice to the water and stir. Sieve into a cup and have it hot.
Immune Boosting Apple Cider Kadha
Ever since the pandemic hit the world, nearly everyone’s looking at strengthening their immune system and one of the best ways of doing that is using stuff that’s mostly found in our kitchens! Here’s an immune boosting kadha that can help do that for you. All you need is one amla, a tsp of black pepper, 1gm of raw haldi, 1 gm of raw ginger, a tbsp. apple cider vinegar and 20ml water. Amla’s considered one of the best sources of Vitamin C with added properties of anti-microbial and antioxidants that are ideal for maintaining your digestive system and radiant skin, while turmeric and ginger help keep the seasonal flu in check, in addition to being anti-inflammatory, hepato-protective, immuno-stimulant, and antiseptic. Apple Cider keeps your heart health intact.
To make the Apple Cider Kadha, bring the water to a boil, add the peeled and grated ginger, cover and steep for about 5 minutes. Next, add the Apple Cider, a tsp of raw honey and black pepper, and mix well. Drink when warm.
Wild Garlic Herbal Kadha
Allium Ursinam or Wild Garlic is a lesser known plant with varied health benefits and considered more potent than the usual garlic root. Extremely effective against chronic skin issues, viruses, joint pain, rheumatism, colds, fever, heart conditions, insomnia, high blood pressure and more, its fresh leaves and bulb can serve as powerful natural detox remedies to purify the blood and restore your health. To make a wild galic herbal kadha, take 2 cups of hot water with a tbsp of dry wild garlic leaves and let it steep for 5 minutes. Strain the infusion next and apportion it in 4 equal parts. Drink the kadha 15 minutes before each meal during the day (4 times a day).
A herb which comes with a host of health benefits and has been in use for centuries, especially by Koreans to make a variety of beverages, herbal teas and more, Ginseng Tea is made out of ginseng roots with Korean chestnuts and jujube fruit, sweetened with honey and served with floating pine nuts on the top. Ginseng is known to help with hypertension, restores hormonal balance, helps with weight loss, revitalises the body, energises the brain, promotes heart health and more. Aromatic, and invigorating, Ginseng can help you stay warm during winters.
For Ginseng Herbal Tea, you’d need 8 slices of ginseng roots, honey to taste and 5 cups of water. Just gather all the ingredients, peel the ginseng root and make 7-8 slices out of it, cut thinly. Coat it with a generous amount of honey and set it aside for 15 minutes. Next, pour hot water (not boiling) over the ginseng slices and steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain the mix and enjoy sipping it.
Cinnamon Thyme Immune Boosting Kadha
Cinnamon is renowned for having umpteen health benefits, packed with antioxidants and antibiotic properties when infused in water and consumed regularly. An excellent 4-ingredient recipe, the Cinnamon Thyme Tea can help strengthen your immune system. Take 4 tsp cinnamon chips or 2 cinnamon sticks, 4 tsp dried thyme and 4 cups of filtered water with honey to taste. Add water in a saucepan, cover and bring to a boil, then switch off the heat and add herbs to the liquid, cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain the tea to a quart-size mason jar and serve hot with some honey to taste.
A warm and soothing concoction made of ¼ cup bajra flour, ½ tsp dry ginger powder, 1 tbsp ghee, 4 cups of water, ¼ cup grated jiggery, and ½ tsp ajwain, the Millet Raab is quite popular in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Known to be warm and a throat relaxer Bajre ki Raab can be made by heating ghee in a pan, adding the bajra flour and frying for 2-3 minutes. Next, add water, dry ginger powder, ajwain and honey and cook for about 8-10 minutes. Your jaggery should have melted and raab should be thickened. Serve it hot.
Bonus Tips: Ayurvedic Herbs for Improving Immunity
Known to be India’s conventional medicine system, Ayurveda’s objective is to preserve health and wellness by keeping the mind-body-spirit in perfect balance and prevent disease, rather than treating it. With a holistic approach, the system aims to boost your immunity as well as flavour your meals with the choicest herbs and spices. Here are some of the best Ayurvedic herbs that can boost your immunity.
- Ashwagandha: It is an adaptogen which can help manage stress more effectively, reduces cortisol levels, lower anxiety and improve the sleep pattern. A spice that can also improve your memory and muscle growth, Ashwagandha is a small woody plant native to India and North Africa and its root and berries are used to produce a renowned Ayurvedic remedy.
- Triphala: Triphala consists of amla, bibhitaki and haritaki which together combat joint inflammation, promote oral health and improve digestion.
- Boswellia: It comes with anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce joint pain, enhance oral health, improve digestion as well as improve one’s breathing capacity, especially in case of chronic asthma.
- Brahmi: It lowers inflammation, reduces ADHD symptoms and improves brain function, in addition to enhancing the body’s ability to handle stress.
- Cumin: Cumin is typically used to flavour your meals and can help reduce irritable bowel syndrome, improve on factors associated with Type 2 Diabetes and heart conditions and protect against food-borne infections as well.
- Turmeric: It gives a curry its yellow colour and curcumin, its main compound helps reduce inflammation, improve heart and brain health.
- Licorice Root: It protects your body against different infections, treat digestive problems and relieves skin irritations.
- Gotu Kola: It helps boost memory, reduce stress, anxiety and depression as well as improves a number of skin conditions.
- Bitter Melon: Aids in lowering blood sugar levels and boost insulin secretion, and reduce LDL cholesterol levels.
- Cardamom: Helps improve breathing, lower blood pressure, and helps heal stomach ulcers.
Eat Healthy and Exercise!
Apart from these kaadha recipes, the least you can do to keep yourself healthy and your immune system strong is to have a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Try including Vitamin C in your diet during this pandemic as it is known to boost your immunity. Take a walk everyday if you're unable to visit the gym. That will make for enough exercise of the body. Take very good care of yourself and the ones around you.