The Art and Science of Immunity
“Our vulnerability (to disease) is a measure of declining lifestyle and environmental health” (Suhas Kshirsagar)
Imagine a three-movement ballet where art and science intertwine and align harmoniously! This is your immunity, your real protection at all times!
The first movement takes place at the physical level with the skin and the epithelia of the digestive tract, the respiratory tract, the nasopharynx, the cilia and hairs to which are added the chemical defense with the mucous membranes and their secretions of mucus, saliva, tears and gastric juice. The skin and mucous membranes are covered with a “normal beneficial” bacterial flora which protects, often by competition, against pathogenic microorganisms. 9% human cells for 91% microbial cells. This 91% beneficial is a support for a gentle stimulation of our immune system and a dilution of infectious agents. If the skin is healthy and physiologically functional, everything stops there and the infection is forgotten.
The second movement offers a dance of assemblies and sequences linked to non-specific or innate mechanisms. Skin epithelia secrete anti-microbial peptides and pro-inflammatory cytokines upon penetration of infectious agents to stimulate local immune cells (macrophages, mast cells, dendritic monocytes, natural killer NK cells) and recruit blood immune cells with an inflammatory reaction ( neutrophilic leukocytes, eosinophils, basophils, monocytes). Both innate and adaptive, natural killer cells (NK & NKT) modulate anti-tumor and anti-viral responses, and influence acquired 3rd movement immunity.
The third movement, like a succession of arabesques, corresponds to the specific or adaptive – acquired defense mechanisms that go into action in lymphoid tissues, ganglia and spleen to activate B and T lymphocytes producing antibodies specific to a given antigen. This is where vaccines work. For effective vaccination, it is essential to optimize one’s immune health to previous levels. A 2020 study found that patients with moderate to severe COVID -19 infection all had NK (natural killer) lymphocyte deficiency.
Ayurveda offers a range of immunomodulating practices and herbal remedies for the non-specific immune system in a positive approach to strengthening the overall immunological capacities i.e. regenerating / activating cells and tissues for a rapid and complete immune response. The immune system is a marvel of complexity, intensity, creativity, agility, communication, precision: an art for its subtlety and prowess, and a science for its very elaborate structure.
What decreases immunity (vulnerability):
• Disengagement from nature, ours and the surrounding one
• Processed foods
• Foods and beverages high in sugars
• Refined sugars and alcoholic beverages
• A racing rhythm of life and stress
• Negative thoughts and emotions affecting the immune, endocrine and neuroendocrine systems
What optimizes immune health, at all levels (resilience):
• Immune resilience means intact skin for a strong physical and chemical barrier, and strong innate immunity and on the lookout capable of adequately supporting acquired immunity.
• Fresh, lively and vibrant food well chewed, including fruits / vegetables, complex grains, nuts, seeds, sprouts, raw oils, meadow and probiotics
• Drink plenty of water to maintain the integrity of the epithelia
• Daily exercise 30 min. such as walking, yoga asanas etc … for better circulation
• Daily pranayama and / or meditation 20 min. for a clear and present mind
• Slow down the rhythm of life and a good nights sleep for optimal immunity
• Learn something new every day, know how to laugh and appreciate the present moment
• Positive thoughts and good humor to boost the immune system!
“Happiness is a state of Mind”