Natural resistance to disease in the body, or immunity, goes hand in hand with good health, according to Ayurveda. In Ayurveda, a truly healthy person cannot be affected by disease, even the most contagious. The Ayurvedic concept of good health is vibrant wellbeing, not just being free of disease. By having balance between the three doshas [ kapha, pitta and vata] there will be perfect functioning of the Agni (digestive fire). Also sweat, urine and faeces (the three waste products) will be balanced and in healthy quantities; our five senses will be working as they should, and our body, mind and consciousness will be working together in harmony.
The Immune System
Our immune system acts as our body’s protector against foreign invaders. Our immune system must perform a very careful balancing act, knowing which invaders are unwelcome, and which are acceptable. Pathogens[parasites, bacteria, fungi and viruses] are foreign bodies which can invade our body. Problems can also be created from within, such as cancer and auto-immune disorders. If one has a weakened immune system, the body is open to any type of illness; however it is also possible that our immune system’s response can become misdirected or overactive, and target the body’s own. That is why it is so important for perfect health that we have a balanced immune system.
Our immunity is controlled by our ability to digest and absorb nutrients in our body, and also by the power of Agni. In a healthy body with a strong immune system, invaders are destroyed then expelled, allowing the body to continue on as normal. However, if our digestive fire is damaged by imbalances between the three doshas, then our metabolism is affected and the body’s natural resistance and its immune response are lowered.
If our body has stored toxins from undigested food (Ama) and is therefore unhealthy, then we have created an acceptable environment for foreign invaders to enter, and to thrive. Ama is not only created from physical indigestion – mental indigestion also has the same affect. Parasites thrive in this fertile ground, feeding from and settling into the weakened areas of our body.
In Ayurveda, it is understood that Ama is the cause of all physical disease. Ama results from unhealthy lifestyle choices and bad eating habits. In addition, stress, our relationships, and trauma are a huge threat to our digestive system and ultimately our immune function. Indigestion, and the formation of Ama, stop nutrients from reaching the tissues, thereby weakening the function of the immune system.
What Is Prajnaparabda?
Prajnaparabda, in Ayurveda, is a ‘crime against wisdom’. What this means is, when you indulge in food knowing that it’s not good for you, or an activity that doesn’t serve you well, you’re committing prajnaparabda. In addition to creating a toxic environment in your body, promoting Ama formation, you’re also weakening the strength of your will. Your identity and the strength of your will are in alignment with your immune function. If you have a great self-identity then your body cells are easily able to tell the difference between self and non-self, and eradicate that which is not serving you well.
What Can Ayurveda Do for Me?
Ayurveda provides clear, detailed guidelines regarding lifestyle, diet, and herbs. It includes the wonderful stress-relieving activities of therapies, Ayurvedic massage treatments, meditation, yoga and pranayama – all for the achievement of longevity and good health. Ayurveda is a way of balancing our body, towards what is our body’s natural state – health.
Diet and Digestion
Create a strong digestive system by being aware of its processes and making note of how you feel, both mentally and physically, after each meal. If you have good digestion you will feel energetic, energized and satisfied. Be very careful that you don’t overeat, and keep your portion sizes small. Select foods for yourself that suit your own constitution, and remember that by carefully watching your diet and your digestion you will be balancing the Doshas, resulting in a better support system to protect your health, and providing protection against illness.
Milk, ghee[clarified butter] and honey, all enhance the subtle essence which supports immunity (Ojas) – and there many other immune enhancing herbs and medicinal foods used in Ayurveda.
To boost Agni, sip ginger tea or hot water throughout the day. Include lots of organic vegetables and fruits in your diet, and include beans and nuts. These will provide your body with the antioxidants, fibre and nutrients required for a healthy immune function. Reduce your intake of sugar as much as possible, and limit your intake of alcohol.