Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Building Immunity.............The Small Things Matter

     Building immunity should start early. Breastfeeding for the first 6 months to a year of life is the surest way to ensure your child is protected even from common allergies. Allow children to be exposed in a safe way to bacteria so that they develop immunity from a young age. Don’t sacrifice basic hygiene but let your kids play outside or in sand / soil- encourage them to explore nature and the outdoors. 

     This way, they are exposed to a bacterial environment which challenges their immune system, necessitating a response. The body thus learns to defend itself and is alert and ready to protect itself in the future. Don’t use antibiotics for small illnesses even if your paediatrician prescribes them – unnecessary use of these medicines leads to bacteria mutating into new resistant strains making it tougher for the body to fight them. Avoid antibacterial soaps for the same reason.

     Interestingly, there is a link between emotional wellness and immunity. This is especially true for children. Kids’ immunity is susceptible to stress. Those being raised in a loving environment have higher levels of self-esteem and well being so they fall sick less often. Research shows that, people who hold on to anger and resentment tend to fall sick frequently. The same goes for single people, individuals without a strong social network and people who are going through depression.

     Why this connection? The simple reason is all the warm fuzzy stuff is good for your immunity too. Being married or in a loving relationship, being a parent, being part of a close-knit community, experiencing the love and support of your family helps your health. Hope this gives you incentive to address and resolve sources of stress and create the all important work – life balance! 

This article was published in 'Life in Adyar', September 29, 2012.

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