We must set a positive environment to promote healthy epigenetic behavior to boost the immuno- competence. Along with good habits, the food we eat supports positive epigenetic expression.
Man thinks he is always superior to all other living organisms. He is in a position to rule the entire world and can destroy the whole world with nuclear weapons he is possessing. He is hosting 50 Trillian single cells in his body. The owner of 50 Trillion cells is entirely shaken by one single cell, which he can not see with naked eyes is called the Coronavirus. Is this virus stronger than man? How can this single-cell destroy the 50 Trillion cells? Let us just look at what these inflammatory cells do in our bodies. We are living in an environment surrounded by air, water, and plants.
Similarly, cells in the body are also surrounded by an environment created by exogenous substances. The body cells grow, eat, breathe, excrete, and multiply and behave like individuals. The inflammatory agents which invade the human body set a negative environment and send dangerous signals to body cells to get destroyed. Cells change their biological behavior according to the messages sent by the pathogens. The immunity is compromised. Thereby the pathogens alter the epigenetic behavior resulting in mutation and destruction of the cells. The result is death. It shows that body cells indeed dance to the negative tone set by the pathogens. If our body cells can dance to a negative tune, it is also possible for our cells to dance to a positive tune.
We must set a positive environment to promote healthy epigenetic behavior to boost the immunocompetence. The foods we eat support positive epigenetic expression. Nutrients present in the food, unlike pathogens, pamper the body cells to grow to its potential. Frontier nutrition has identified many such foods are called bioactive substances or blocking agents. They are phenolic compounds, flavonoids, isoflavonoids, coumarins, lignins, anthocyanins, and many more. Each group of this bioactive substance has many more nutrients in it. These bioactive substances are abundant in nature. Many are within reach of the poor. The mother earth knows how to take care of her children. The condiments such as coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin, turmeric, pepper, ginger, chilies, amla, lemon, orange, onion, garlic, mint, omavalli, and many more we Indians use are a rich source of these nutrients.
Please note, all bioactive substances, which boost our immune system, are present only in plant foods. It is absent in Nonvegetarians foods. For the time being, it is advisable to forgo fleshy foods as animals sometimes act as disease carriers. Let us know how to incorporate these bioactive substances in functional foods to improve our immunity.
Concentrated immune boosters
In an emergency like this, we need more concentrated immune boosters in our meals. It is the high time to shift our attention from providing egg and other nonvegetarian food to more plant-based foods. School children get varieties of khichdi, Pongal, rasam, samber, subji, dal in which rasam powder, sambar powder, garam masala, chat masala used is ideal for boosting immunity.
Apart from these foods, a concoction called Kashaum made of 4 spoons of coriander seeds, one spoon of cumin, one spoon of pepper, one spoon of grated ginger, and ½ teaspoon of turmeric powdered and stored in a container can be prepared by school children themselves. Cooking is a Vidya to let children know what healthy foods are. Boil this powder with water and milk, add jaggery, and serve hot. This Kashaum not only boosts immunity it even improves the memory power of children. Adults can use the same Kashaum but instead of milk and jaggery, a pinch of salt and lemon juice to be added. Lemon should be squeezed well till all the oil is extracted from the rind. The oil present in the rind is a perfect carrier and helps bioactive substances to reach its designated place.
The bioactive substances come in between pathogens and our body cells, creating a barrier. These blocking agents cover the cells and DNA so that our DNA can see nor can take any damaging singles from the malicious virus. The very purpose of the virus, its invasion is defeated. In this battle, pathogens get destroyed, and body cells thrive well to complete their lifespan.
Traditional Indian home-made medicines
Nursing mothers and newborns are more susceptible to infectious diseases. Traditionally Indian nursing mothers receive a kind of paste called lehyam or lehya, which contain more than 20 to30 herbs. The herbs used in lehyam are rich sources of phenolic compounds, flavonoids, coumarins, and lignins. 2 tablespoon of this functional food is ideal for mothers.
Apart from this, 250 ml milk boiled with 8,9 cloves of garlic, and jaggery, a kind of Kheer, boosts both mother and child’s immunity. For senior citizens, a cup of milk boiled with ½ teaspoon turmeric and ½ teaspoon ajwain before going to bed facilitates sound sleep. Sound sleep improves the epigenetic behavior, and the turmeric and ajwain boost immunity.
Ailing people and on medication should sip soups in between made of 1 fist full of curry leaves, 6 cloves of garlic, ½ onion,1 raw tomato. Chavanrash, an excellent immune booster developed by Rushi Chavana some centuries ago, is a household item. Our traditional Indian foods set a model for a healthy lifestyle and are an essential determinant of immunological status.
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(The author is a Consultant Dietician, nutritionist and Managing director at Varenya nutrition concepts, Bengaluru)