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Nutritionist Explains Immunity Boosting Measures For Pregnant Women

While expecting a baby, our wellbeing is of utmost importance. Whether its mental wellbeing or physical well-being. Our thoughts, actions and physical health are all passed down to the baby and thus it becomes important to make sure we keep ourselves immune from any DIS-EASE. While supplementing the diet with iron, calcium and folic acid is important during these 9 months, it is also important to stay away from unnecessary medications due to illness.

During pregnancy, a woman's immune system becomes suppressed, making it more difficult to fight off infection. Risks for the mother include Urinary tract infections, coughs, colds, flu, vaginitis, and postpartum infections.

Any antibiotics or antiviral medications disrupt the gut balance and limit the absorption of nutrients from the food we eat. Thus, its best to focus on building internal immunity and fight these pathogens with natural foods.

Immunity is our bodies army to fight against any invaders that enter our bodies. These invaders are the free radicals or toxins from the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink. These invaders can also be the metabolic waste from the internal processes our bodies go through. Immunity is protection from disease and from the numerous bacteria's and viruses floating in the air.

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This does not mean the absence of germs, toxins, free radicals, or cancer cells. It means how well our body responds to it once they enter the body and how quickly can our bodies expel these out of our system. Immunity is not built over a day or a few weeks. It is also not dependent on a few food groups, contrary to the raging immune boosting drinks [1][2].

Immunity is built through daily habits and what we do every single day. 70 per cent to 80 per cent of our immunity is built in the gut. The gut is the digestive tract that helps digest, absorb, assimilate, and circulate all nutrition [3]. Building and taking care of the gut health becomes extremely important to improve immunity.

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The factors that help enhance gut health and thus improve our immunity are:

1. A balanced diet rich in fibre, pro and prebiotics and water [4]
2. Consistent physical activity [5]
3. Managing stress positively [6]
4. Getting sufficient sound sleep [7]

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Balanced Meals:

• A diet rich in Vit C from all citrus foods like lemon, Indian gooseberry, guava, oranges, and pomelo.
• The metal plate should have some fermented foods like curd, fermented vegetables, or pickle.
• Consume freshly cooked vegetables to retain all its nutrition and include at least 400 gms vegetables (cooked + raw).
• Proteins are an important part of the meal and should be a part of all meals. It helps build immunity and strength.
• Make sure you have sufficient Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is linked to better immune response. Expose yourself to the sun for at least 20 minutes each day or 30 minutes over the weekend. Supplementation is necessary if one does not have the required Vitamin D stores.
• Zinc is crucial in the immunity building process. Pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and sesame seeds are significantly high in zinc, protein, and fibre. 1 tbsp of these mixed seeds everyday help complete a major portion of the zinc requirement. Cashews, peanuts, almonds, lentils, legumes are all a rich source of zinc.

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Regular Physical Activity:

• Being physically active allows for better blood flow. The Nutrients reach the baby more efficiently.
• It enhances the cardiovascular system, improves blood flow, flushes toxins, keeps the endocrine system working well, circulates antibodies, and reduces stress and pain.
• Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.

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Massages:

• Massage has been shown to increase immune system function.
• Regular massages lower the stress hormone, cortisol, and enhance immunity.

Stress-free Environment:

• Stress creates an immune response and raises the stress hormone thereby compromising immunity.
• Make sure to keep away from stressful situations or people to keep the immunity levels up.

Quality Sleep:

• Our body systems undergo repair and maintenance while we are sleeping, and a good quality sleep ensures that the immune system thrives.
• A short afternoon nap is an icing on the cake to build your immune system.

Your first line of defence is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy. And these should be started even when you start planning a pregnancy. Your healthy eating habits are passed on to the baby as well.

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On A Final Note…

Some more lifestyle practices for keeping the immunity high are:

• No Smoking
• Moderate alcohol
• Laughing more

Immunity needs to be built holistically through a lifestyle and not depend on only a few ways to build it.