Tell us about your book. What can readers expect?
Immunity being the foundation of human health, has always been my core focus when it comes to the prevention and management of lifestyle diseases. However, it was unfortunately not given the required importance, until now when the world was hit by a pandemic.
Realizing how important having a strong immunity is at this point, queries and concerns from all around the world started pouring in with regards to that. Some people did not even know what immunity is and the role it plays. Understanding the needs of human health at a global level, Shilpa and I decided to come up with this book on immunity free of cost because it was the need of the hour.
The book lists down simple and inexpensive lifestyle changes revolving around four pillars of lifestyle – balanced nutrition, adequate sleep, exercise, and physical activity and emotional wellness. It has simple immunity-boosting recipes using basic ingredients and essentials, a section on yoga for overall health and immunity, meditation practices, powerful quotes and messages from leading health professionals all around the world, power of prayer, visualization, forgiveness in relation to immunity and a lot more.
How did Shilpa Shetty Kundra come on board for the book? What’s her contribution to the book?
Shilpa’s expertise is yoga and she has been an inspiration for all of us through her fitness regime, her way of living, and how disciplined it is when it comes to her health. In the book, there is a complete section where Shilpa has shared her knowledge and expertise through yoga asanas and pranayamas for a variety of conditions like acidity, constipation, health, and immunity of senior citizens, weight loss. It just took a minute for me to call her, explain her the vision, and get her to join hands with me for this book. We began working on our respective chapters and expertise immediately after that and came up with this book.
Since there are so many ways and so much information about immunity-building, how do we choose the right way?
Firstly, we all need to understand that Immunity is not a unit that works in isolation. It is a system that works in synchrony with our entire body. The way we eat, sleep, move and think also affects our immunity, so it is necessary to keep a broad approach when it comes to boosting immunity and not just focus on superfoods and supplements.
Boosting immunity requires one to focus on four pillars:
Nutrition: Simple, balanced meals cooked the right way with the right quality of ingredients, oils, a variety of spices is an immunity-boosting superfood in itself. Sugar is no.1 killer of immunity and this is for kids as well as adults. When just a can of aerated drink can suppress your immunity to almost 50% for the next 5-6 hours, imagine how daily consumption of sugar is killing our immunity slowly. Not only sugar, but any processed food happens to be the biggest enemy when it comes to the health of your child.
Movement: Through movement you enable circulation and through circulation, you enable transport of blood to trillions of cells in the body. Blood carries oxygen, nutrients, immune cells and movement allows its reach to every cell in the body. Similarly, the movement also boosts lymph circulation which is our body’s own garbage disposal unit that helps clear our body of toxic wastes. To add to this, our body needs movement throughout the day and not just for that one hour you exercise in the morning. So, exercise with movement is necessary. It could be through short walks, standing up and touching your toes, doing backbends and forward bends, fivee squats every one hour, talking on phone while walking.
Sleep and Rest: Sleep is a non-negotiable aspect of health, and there is no replacement for sleep because sleep is magical for immunity. Even a one-night deprivation of sleep can suppress your immunity to 60-70%. Sleep has a major impact on immunity, which is why people who pull in all-nighters tend to fall sick more often. Sleep is the rest mode of our body when our immune system recharges. Our body like any car or machine needs maintenance and sleep is the phase that takes care of maintenance and clean-up. When we are sleep deprived, T-cells go down and inflammatory cytokines go up. This potentially predisposes us to a great risk of acquiring a cold, cough, flu, infection, or disease.
Emotions: Short periods of stress do not cause problems in our immune system. Indeed, research indicates that short periods of stress actually have an immune-building result. Chronic stress, however, is another matter. It’s been proven beyond doubt that a chronically stressed state of mind affects one's state of health on all levels: Physical, mental, emotional can lower and suppress immunity. Chronic stress produces several unwanted changes in your body’s natural rhythm, lowers immunity, and even can be a root cause of serious medical illnesses. Heart conditions, hormonal imbalances, obesity, and polycystic ovarian syndrome are a few examples of such stress-related illnesses.
While stress alone cannot make us catch a cold or flu virus, it weakens the immune system's ability to respond to invaders, leaving us more vulnerable to infection. Recovery is also liable to be slower since the immune system is suppressed in favour of dealing with stress. When we are stressed, stress hormones like epinephrine and cortisol kick and inflammation rises, as a result of which immunity drops.
You speak of forgiveness and prayers. One might be surprised to these topics in a book titled The Magic Immunity Pill: Lifestyle...What was your thought behind including these in the book?
These are surprising topics because no one has spoken about these aspects in relation to immunity, but its consequences on our immune system is real. There is a huge connection between unforgiveness and disease and today science is proving the same. In our line of work, we get to interact with terminal stage patients and when we spend time diagnosing the root cause and lifestyle history, we notice the inability to forgive as one of the biggest dampeners of their health and immunity, and the moment they begin to start forgiving and release these emotions, they feel liberated from their own prisons and start to feel better. It lifts off a huge load from the heart and the immune system. Forgiveness is releasing, and releasing is healing in every way.
Medical research on forgiveness has found that the act of forgiveness can lower the risk of heart attack, improve lipid profiles, reduce pain and blood pressure, improve sleep quality, and levels of anxiety. Studies also point out the correlation between an increase in forgiveness and health as we age. This is precisely why we thought of including this chapter in the book because it matters.
Food plays an integral part in immunity building. What kind of foods should one focus on and include in daily diet?
The key to eating healthy for a strong immunity is to keep it simple. Simple, balanced, seasonal, local foods, cooked the right way is what helps. Our Indian staple diet is rich in immunity-boosting foods. A simple rice-dal or khichdi or sambhar and rice are perfect foods for immunity and the beauty lies in the synergy that exists between two or more ingredients.
Top immunity-boosting foods:
• Spices: ginger, garlic, turmeric, black pepper, cumin, fenugreek, fennel,
• Herbs: oregano, tulsi, lemongrass, rosemary,
• Fruits: pomegranate, guava, mango, grapes, lemons, oranges.
• Vegetables: drumsticks, pumpkin, sweet potato, chemical-free- leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables.
• Micronutrients: Zinc, selenium, Vitamin D3, vitamin E, iron, B- vitamin, Vitamin C
• Probiotics: Yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, rice kanji, kombucha, pickles
• Prebiotics: Apple, apple cider vinegar, garlic, asparagus
• All nuts and seeds
• Coconut oil, A2 cow ghee
What are the common mistakes people make when it comes to immunity-boosting?
I think the biggest mistake that exists right now is Self-Medication. A lot of people are sick today because they have self-medicated themselves for the longest time and not allowed their own immune systems to do the work it is designed to do. Immunity is an intelligent system and adapts itself, however, indiscriminate use of medicines and pills, suppresses its intelligence.
Everyone should understand that there is a reason why there are doctors and health professionals. They know their job, so let them suggest what they think is right. Never self-medicate.
I also want to say, that a lot of people exercise, rather over-exercise to build health, however, they fail to understand that over-exercise is also an immunity dampener. Excessive exercise is negative stress to our body and it can make our body produce cortisol, which again suppresses immunity. It's even worse, if one exercises with little or no sleep the previous or following night. You are better off no exercising if you haven’t slept well the previous night. Our body needs a balance of everything, including exercise and sleep.
You recently wrote a book on Dry Fasting. What is dry fasting?
The Dry Fasting Miracle by The Green Sheikh and myself is another book that was launched last month. Dry fasting (called Vrat in Hindi) is a discipline, a lifestyle practice that involves complete abstinence from food and water for a brief period of time, similar to the traditional practice of fasting during the month of Ramadan or Navratri. It is a concept that has always existed in every religion and nature follows It too. Fasting actually comes very naturally to us. A seven to eight-hour sleep in the night is a period of fasting anyway. Our body automatically puts us in a state of fast to allow for detoxification. The dirt in the corners of our eyes, the morning breath, and our first urine that is warm and acidic are all signs of our body successfully detoxifying itself at night.
What are the benefits of dry fasting and who should opt for this?
Dry fasting is honestly not a new concept. Our ancestors have followed it for the longest time for their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health on various occasions. Dry fasting affects us at all levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Physical benefits: Reduction in inflammation, arthritic pains, improvement in gut health, easier management of chemotherapy side effects, improved immunity, energy, skin and hair health, reduced cravings, mindful appetite, breaking the weight-loss plateau, anti-aging, hormonal imbalance, detoxification, reducing the risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and kidney problems, feel more energetic, stem cell regeneration, autophagy, lean muscle growth, extend life, youth, and vitality. Fasting is also a great stimulus for HGH (human growth hormone)
Mental: Improved focus and concentration, addresses brain fog, fuzzy thinking, gives mental clarity, protect the brain against neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Emotional: To feel good from within, positive, peaceful, happy, and in a better mood. It is known to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression (has to be supervised and not a replacement for medications)
Spiritual: Enhanced spiritual practices, deepened prayers because meditation is most fruitful on an empty stomach. One can meditate best when the digestive system and its communication with the brain function is given complete rest.
One needs to try to know if it suits them or not and then accordingly add this lifestyle tool to their plan. Just because dry fasting is good, doesn’t mean it has to suit everyone, however, the data and results we have seen in our clients and followers all across the globe is nothing short of life-changing. People have adopted fasting and seen an improvement in their energy levels, arthritic pains, immunity, inflammation, skin and hair quality, allergies, chemotherapy side effects, weight loss, and so much more. But these people have learned the art of dry fasting and followed it correctly, without making it a fad.
How do you keep your immunity in check? What’s your mantra?
A focus on the four pillars as previously mentioned and keeping it simple is my mantra always. I make it a point to eat home-cooked food, sleep well, as that’s huge for me, invest time in pranayama and meditation every single day, workout based on what I feel like, and trusting my body’s ability to handle itself well. It is that simple. A strong immunity doesn’t mean one cannot fall sick. A person who has strong immunity can fall sick too, but what determines the strength is that how soon and smooth the recovery is without any dependency on medicines. So, during times when I am under the weather, I take it easy with respect to
Any parting words of wisdom for our readers on immunity building?
There is enough that we all know about immunity by now. We all know that we need to exercise, eat clean, sleep well, keep a check on our emotions, etc. but we don’t do it, mostly because of lack of self-discipline. Its good to have knowledge about immunity, but if we fail to put it into action, it just remains as the knowledge that’s useless. Even through this book, our vision is to encourage people to learn from it and apply it to their lifestyles and follow that they find as the missing link for their immunity. I guess that’s where the biggest gap lies, between learning and applying.