According to the ancient science of Ayurveda, a well-balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle are the pillars of the immune system which enables our body to fight off diseases and heal from injuries. Viral or bacterial infections pose a serious threat to human being, however, certain sections of the population, such as children and pregnant women are more susceptible to threats from infectious diseases. Pregnant women are exposed to a range of infectious agents that have the potential to adversely impact not only the mother but also the fetus. The immune system is one of the most critical systems in the body safeguarding the mother against the environment and preventing any damage caused to the fetus.
According to the ancient Ayurvedic knowledge, our body can withstand infections and fight against diseases only when all the seven layers of our body’s tissues (namely, Rasa, Mamsa, Rakta, Medha, Majja, Asthi and Shukra) are strong. Our immunity will be boosted only when these layers are working in harmony. Here are a few Ayurveda-backed ways and Ayurvedic medicines through which pregnant women can boost their immune system.
In Ayurveda, dehydration is also called ‘Apdathukshaya’, which is said to lead to an imbalance of salts, fluids, and minerals in the body. Drinking enough water each day is essential as it helps regulate body temperature, maintain joint health, prevent infections, helps deliver essential nutrients to cells, and ensure the proper functioning of organs. As a general rule of thumb, one should drink at least 2-3 litres of water every day, and those living in warmer climates should drink more depending on the temperature.
Ayurveda is a well-known source of scientific studies on medicinal herbs. For pregnant women, especially, immunity-boosting is crucial. This is where potent medicinal herbs come into the picture. Herbs like Moringa, Neem, Tulsi, Ashwagandha, Triphala are powerful sources of Ojas, which is the invisible life force in us. Containing 7 times more vitamin C than oranges, Moringa is a powerful immunity booster. Due to its anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties, Neem is effective in fortifying the body against attacks by harmful pathogens. Tulsi has phytochemicals and antioxidants that effectively locate germs, viruses, and bacteria the moment they enter the body and destroy them. Triphala contains antioxidative properties of Haritaki, Bibhitaki and amla and is loaded with vitamin C and vitamin A that strengthen your immunity. Clinical studies have shown that Ashwagandha can increase the body’s white blood cells, thereby boosting immunity.
Pregnant women are advised to consume foods that are a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants. This includes green leafy greens such as spinach, along with vegetables like lemon, broccoli, sweet potato, tomatoes, cauliflower, and capsicum, among others. Fruits with a high vitamin C content include lime, oranges, kiwi, papaya, and guava, etc. In addition, consuming nuts, lentils, legumes, etc can also boost the defence mechanism during pregnancy.
This is one of the most critical criteria for boosting immunity. Having a disrupted sleep cycle can prevent the body from performing key functions of mending, rejuvenating, and healing. It is primarily during sleep when the body undertakes key biological processes such as detoxification, repairing damaged cells, restoring energy, and regulating hormones and proteins, among others. As per Ayurvedic wisdom, the Vata Dosha is aggravated on account of sleep deprivation. Staying awake at night for long hours leads to the depletion of immunity due to a build-up of stress hormones. Hence, it is necessary for pregnant women to get the recommended sleep of at least 6-8 hours
In addition to the above recommendations, Ayurveda also suggests regular exercising for pregnant women. Exercising regularly not only keeps us fit, but also boosts our immunity by enhancing our sleep quality and controlling our stress levels.
At the time of pregnancy, women battle mood swings and morning sickness, fatigue and cramps, even breathing problems. Yogic exercises and postures help relieve the stress and improve the overall condition of the mind and body of pregnant women, thereby improving their immune system.
Consuming a healthy diet rich in nutrients, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, and drinking enough water are some of the easiest and surest ways to boost immunity for pregnant women. In addition, taking health supplements or Ayurvedic formulations such as Amalaki juice, Brahmi Vati, and Chyawanprash, can help the body’s defence mechanism to a great deal.
This article is reviewed by Dr. Neena Sharma