With the rise in Covid-19 cases across the nation, self-care has become our first line of defence. Health care providers and officials have constantly emphasized the importance of safety and immunity in fight against covid19 pandemic.

Strong immunity is the need of the hour and we need to look at various ways to improve it through a change in our lifestyle.

Coronavirus kadha
Ayush Ministry has shared the recipe of a herbal decoction that it claims boosts immunity.Representational image/Twitter

What are the basic detox techniques we can apply in our lifestyle?

There are various techniques which we can follow every day like oil pulling, Jal Neiti Kriya, gargle with lukewarm water. Oil Pulling is a simple technique of washing your mouth with organic oil like sesame oil or extra virgin coconut oil. Take 10ml of oil in your mouth before brushing your teeth and swish it for 5 minutes and spit it out.

Remember, not to consume this oil. Practising oil pulling technique eliminates toxins which build in our mouth and expels it. Also, try and gargle with saline and turmeric warm water every morning. This helps in clearing your throat. In the past, if you have practised Jala Neti kriya, you can practice it once a week to clear your nasal passage.

Does inhaling steam help preventing Covid-19 infection?

Inhaling steam helps during sore throat or cough. This should be practised when you experience a dry cough or sore throat once a day. You can add herbs like mint or caraway seeds to increase its benefits. But if you have any symptoms of Covid-19 please get yourself tested.

Can you suggest a herbal decoction recipe?

I suggest drinking kadha / decoction twice a day to boost immunity. These herbs have been supported by Ministry of AYUSH, India and have proven benefits according to Ayurveda researchers. Boil – 2 cloves, 2 green cardamom, 2-inch cinnamon, 3-4 tulsi or holy basil leaves, 1 teaspoon ginger juice in 300 ml of water. Once boiled strain and consume it with 1 teaspoon jaggery.

What are some immunity-boosting foods for children?

Chyavanprash is a mix of 41 ayurvedic herbs. Children above 3 years of age can consume 2 teaspoons a day. For children below 3 years of age, I recommend adding 1 teaspoon turmeric powder with 1 pinch black pepper in milk. Always combine turmeric with black pepper to increase the absorption of curcumin. This can also be consumed by grown-up children and adolescents as well.

What foods can help in building immunity?

Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin C. Eating 2-3 fresh fruits and 4-5 different vegetables a day (except tubers like potato, colocasia) help in building immunity. In particular use coriander, mint, moringa, parsley, green chillies for herbs in the diet.

Lemon or lime are rich sources of vitamin c, add its juice to your curries and salad. If you add chutneys like green chutney, coconut chutney, red chilli chutney or capsicum chutney you will add a daily dose of vitamin c to your diet. Yellow, red and green capsicums, green leafy vegetables, Karunda (Indian cranberries) are also excellent in building immunity.

Garlic has a compound called allicin, when you crush garlic or leave it open for 30 seconds it turns into allicin a compound which gives it that aroma. Consume 1 clove of raw garlic empty stomach to build immunity.

Our gut flora plays a vital role in building our immunity. Hence, add probiotics to your meals. Yoghurt, buttermilk, kimchi salad, kamboocha, fermented foods like dhokla, khandvi, idli's, appam, dosa, curd rice, miso, kanji works wonders in supporting our gut health.

Incorporating zinc sources like pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, pine nuts, peanuts, whole grains, seafood such as mussels, oysters also help in building stronger immunity.

Can you suggest some immunity boosting drinks?

My summer favourites are beal ( wood apple) sherbet, kokum sherbet, buttermilk with curry leaves and moringa leaves, watermelon and mint juice, ragi malt, lemongrass and ginger tea and not to forget lemonade with mint leaves.

Are there any free immunity boosters?

Power of Vitamin D in boosting immunity shouldn't be underestimated. Soak up in the sun around sunrise for 20-30 mins every day. Vitamin D is a super supplement it supports several metabolic pathways in our body. Exercise at home or in the park, dance, yoga and pranayama enhances our immunity and must be practised at least 30 minutes a day.

A sound sleep of 7-8 hours is really effective in building immunity. Research shows good sleep helps in building immunity and protects us when exposed to the virus. Drink lukewarm water through the day. Studies show that chronic stress can reduce immunity response to diseases. Working on a coping mechanism is vital in building immunity.

Stress management strategies should be customized to individuals. It can be reading books, watching movies, listening to music, singing etc.  

Disclaimer: Above suggestions are immunity building strategies for Covid-19. Please seek medical attention when required and follow safety measures.

(About the author: This is a guest article by Swati Bathwal, an accredited practising Dietitian Nutritionist and Public Health Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, an accredited Anthropometrist and a registered Yoga Teacher.)