Monday, November 11, 2013

Health is Wealth

Health is wealth. I grew up hearing these words from my father. I saw this being put to practice by my grandparents too.

But I never knew how valuable that wealth was, until I saw the pains that people had to go through when they lose it. Every time a friend or a relative falls sick or gets hospitalized, I had to witness the agony and the distress that they suffered. The worst happened when I myself get hospitalized. It feels horrible to have to lie on a bed for as long as the disease persists.Obviously, a sick person in the family affects everyone detrimentally in some or the other manner. Many such disturbed families leads subsequently to a weak nation and society.

Thinking about it, why do people fall sick? And there too why do some people frequently fall sick, whereas some rarely do? The answer lies in one word - Immunity. The dictionary meaning of this word is "the ability of an organism to resist a particular infection or toxin by the action of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells." It fairly translates to "your natural capacity to resist diseases". Though various other factors also contribute to the onset and spreading of diseases, from a personal point of view, immunity is what makes the most difference between a life of receiving help and sympathy from others, and a life where you can help and support the needy. And immunity is not something you can gain by any drug that you get over the counter, or by switching to healthy food and habits once the diseases start swamping you.

Immunity is a natural property of your body and your genealogy has a lot to contribute to this. But there is a major portion that can be gained purely by practising some time tested habits from childhood. Though they do work on adults as well, its most effective when inducted from childhood, when the body and mind are at the weakest and the most flexible state alike.

Hence, when I saw that Dabur has started a campaign for "Immune India" in Indiblogger, I marked in my mind to sit down and write what I think is required from parents to nurture their kids with good immunity.

Here are a few things that I learnt by observing my elders and a few by my own experiences which I believe helps in maintaining a healthy body and mind. I have tried to acquire sources to substantiate my claims that I put together from what I know. Please check those too for more information.

1) Take bath in cold water every day
I found this as one of the most refreshing tip when I was in Kochi, where temperatures rise upto 35 degrees in the summer and the constant humidity makes it a very pleasurable activity to take a cold water bath every day. But after moving to Mysore and subsequently to Bangalore, I found it absurdly difficult to follow and had switched to hot water. It was only three months back that I finally got back to the habit of taking bath only in cold water. Needless to say, the effect was obvious. The constant colds, headaches, tiredness and lethargy that plagued me for the last four years were instantly replaced with highly energetic days where I can concentrate of tasks more easily and overall I found myself disease free and happy.

2) Drink lots of water
Again, something I didn't realize while living in the hot and humid climate of Kochi. You needn't be poked in such a climate to drink enough water. But in the colder climates, I forgot to keep this up and effect was very bad. Acne, hair loss, dry skin, improper metabolism, tiredness and even kidney stones plagued me until I went on a water crusade to regain what was lost, only partially succeeding though. Every health article talks about drinking a lot of water, but not many people follow it. I paid for the ignorance, and I wish my readers don't have to.

3) Play hard
Play hard under the sun, sweat and get dirty. Its fun, its healthy and its mandatory. Make sure kids get enough time outside and are not stuck inside with homework or video games instead. The psychological and physical benefits of playing outside is immense. I can't stress enough on this.

4) Watch what you eat
These days, a bag of chips, burgers from big names and other fast food items are the main highlights of every kid's diet. Make sure these things are limited, if not absent in your child's diet. Such foods are known to be high in saturated fat, sugar, artificial colours and so on which can affect all functions of the body ranging from the heart, liver, brain, skin etc to the functioning of the taste buds even. A cue for identifying such foods is to not purchase any food item that has a TV advertisement for it.

5) Meditate everyday for 10 minutes
The benefits of meditation to memory power, concentration, creativity, patience and stress handling is very well studied and documented by science.

As kids rarely like to sit still, it would take a lot of effort from parents to instill this practice in them. Many households insist that the entire family sit for a prayer together. This is the time to teach your kid some hymns and make him/her sit still for a while chanting those. My mother did the same with me until the age of 9 when I was initiated to the Vedas which gives ample practice for a lifetime if followed strictly.
one more reason

6) Get adequate sleep
Make sure kids get to bed at regular times and they get enough sleep. These days even young kids get to spend time outside watching movies late night or going for parties. Such activities, while being fun and in line with modern lifestyle should not hamper the need to get enough sleep. Especially for kids, when the brain is the growing stage, sleep is what makes it grow faster and stronger. It can make a huge difference in the overall immunity level of kids.
couldn't resist this one :-)

7) Enjoy vacations and time with family
These days, even young kids are bombarded with loads of homework, tuition, exams and what not. All this stress severely inhibits their abilities to grow up psychologically and physiologically. A healthy, stress-free environment has to be created within the family for children to grow up in, giving them space to expand themselves as individuals with a healthy attitude. Regular vacations and outings with family is one very effective habit that boosts family bonding because kids get to enjoy along with their parents and share happy moments.

8) Read to them and Teach them to read
Effect of a healthy reading habit on overall health and attitude of a child is something that is often not considered in studies. I have personally observed major effects in families I know of where reading habits have boosted overall wellness in children.
Reading not only improves concentration and trains the brain in grasping concepts, but also reading many of the classics and award winning books have proved to improve the emotional quotient of children. This has been observed in various studies. A healthy attitude and outlook towards will go a long way in making champs out of your children.

9) Oil everyday
I recall a line from one of the slokas I learnt in school - "Murdha shrotha ghraana paada tailanityam syat", which translates to an instruction for "Oil the top(vertex) of you head,ears,nose and feet daily". This line is part of a sloka that talks about steps to maintain health, with a guarantee of 100 years of life. I have seen this technique being applied successfully by any octogenarians that I know of personally and via popular media. Various oils can be used for this, popular ones being Coconut, Gingelly and some Herbal concoctions.

10) Go the natural way
 Even with all these steps taken, there would still be a few things missing owing to the deviation from the natural techniques that modern lifestyle has taken. A regular habit of taking Chyawanprash is one technique that we used to follow when our household. Hence I can vouch for the it. Even regular drinking of Amla juice, Brahmi juice etc boosts immunity and improves memory power respectively. These are relatively easy habits to inculcate into a child's life.

What about experiments with some raw veggies? Studies have found that raw consumption(after washing) of many vegetables can supply a significantly larger quantity of nutrients to the body than the cooked variant. It used to be relatively easier in the older days with all vegetables being produced organically. Nowadays you have to take extra precaution to avoid effects of harmful chemicals and fertilizers. Hence, do this only if you really trust your source, or even better if you grow your vegetables in your kitchen garden. I personally have experimented with a few vegetables from our kitchen garden in my childhood and there are a few favourites even today.

11) Life is not a bed of roses
Last but not the least, please don't make the lives of kids too easy. Don't provide too many facilities and protection. Not only does such pampering affect the social behaviour of a child, but also the psychological and physical growth gets inhibited. Immunity is a natural property and it grows against the harmful elements around the body. So don't stop your child if he wants get drenched in the rain or play in the dirt or help you in the garden. A few stumbles initially will go a long way in creating world class citizens who won't be defeated by ill health, both physically and mentally.
Enjoy a bruise :-)

This is my vision for an Immune India. Thank you for taking your time to read through. Please let me know your thoughts on how we can build a very healthy society in the comments section.

This post has been submitted as an entry to the "Immune India" initiative in Indiblogger, an online blogging community.


  1. Very Beautifully Presented Vivek..You almost covered all the points for Immune Health.. :D
    Good Luck for the contest.. :D

  2. Nice collection of healthy recommendations. All the best for the contest.

    You can read my entry at

  3. I am a fan of cold shower and I found support in your well crafted post. Wish you win the price and cold showers are made a law in the country. Best of luck Vivek!

    Would appreciate your candid views on my post at