Meet Ritika – A 26-year-old working professional working from home for over a year due to the COVID pandemic. She takes pride in being fit, works out twice a week, and spends an hour in the sun every day to keep her Vitamin D levels up. Despite being young and doing all the right things to keep herself healthy, she would fall prey to common illnesses such as cold and flu with alarming frequency.
After one particularly severe bout of flu, Ritika decided to opt-in for the Apollo ProHealth program on the advice of her close friend. She wanted a personalised program, so she started her ProHealth journey filling in a ‘personalised Health Risk Assessment’ (pHRA) questionnaire.
Apollo ProHealth’s pHRA covers 4 aspects of an individual’s health:
- Medical History – This section consists of inquiries about any previously diagnosed illnesses or disease(s) or surgeries
- Family History – This section includes any family history of illnesses or disorders.
- Lifestyle habits – This section includes questions about diet, exercise, use of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs.
- Current status – This section involves any current symptoms or complaints, mind health, sleep and stress levels.
Once the pHRA was completed, she was recommended a comprehensive whole-body program.
Ritika considered herself generally healthy and did not expect any major surprises in her assessment report. Well, she was in for a rude shock!
When Ritika’s doctor walked her through her report, to her surprise, she found that her immune system was weak. She was also at risk of developing a variety of lifestyle diseases, even though she did not smoke, was a teetotaler, and followed a vegetarian diet!
It was difficult to believe that a young working professional, who had healthy habits, would have a weak immune system.
The first thing her ProHealth physician asked her to do was not to panic. He explained to her that every individual’s body is a set of unique and complex biochemical reactions. Therefore, while it was great that she did the basic things right such as exercise regularly, not smoke, etc., but to truly be healthy she needs to first understand the unique demands of her body and then follow a health program tailored to her needs and lifestyle.
As we delve deeper into Ritika’s journey, let’s also understand how immunity plays a vital role in keeping us healthy and safe.
What did Ritika learn about her immunity?
Two weeks later, Ritika received a call from her ProHealth Mentor to check in and help answer any questions. The mentor explained to her that immunity refers to the body’s ability to resist pathogen invasion. When an individual is exposed to pathogens (foreign disease-causing substances such as bacteria and viruses), antigens (proteins that are linked to the infections’ surface) trigger an immune response tofightsuch pathogens.
The human body’s immunity is divided into three categories:
- Innate immunity- Innate immunity refers to an individual’s natural defenses, which include barriers like skin, body hair, saliva, stomach acid, and immune responses in general (inflammation).
- Passive immunity- The body’s ability to withstand viruses by ‘borrowing’ antibodies is known as passive immunity. Antibodies can be passed down to a newborn through mother’s milk or through blood via transfusion wherein antibodies like immunoglobulin, are transferred from one person to another.
- Acquired/active immunity- The immunity that emerges through immunological memory is known as acquired (adaptive) immunity. In this case, the body generates antibodies against a certain antigen (which is associated with a pathogen) after being exposed to it.
In her case, Ritika learnt that her active immunity was low. As a result, her mentor suggested she make changes to her lifestyle and diet to improve her active immunity. We will dive deeper into these changes in the following sections.
What are the factors that weaken immunity and how was Ritika affected?
- Old age: Our internal organs may become less efficient as we age. For example, the thymus and bone marrow produce fewer immune cells that’s needed to combat infections. Micronutrient deficiencies are linked to aging, which can exacerbate a deteriorating immune system.
- Toxic environmental elements: Smoke, other pollutants and excessive alcohol consumption can decrease immune cell activity.
- Obesity: Obesity has been linked to low-grade chronic inflammation. Obesity has been found as an independent risk factor for multiple lifestyle diseases.
- Malnutrition: A diet deficient in one or more nutrients might decrease immune cell and antibody synthesis.
- Autoimmune/immunodeficiency: These disorders assault and potentially weaken the immune system.
- Chronic mental stress: Stress causes the release of chemicals such as cortisol, which decreases inflammation (which is required to activate immune cells) and white blood cell activity.
- Lack of sleep and rest: Sleep is essential for the body to rest and recover from any infection, during which a type of cytokine (small proteins produced by several immune cells) that fights infection is released. Not getting enough sleep reduces the amount of these cytokines and other immune cells.
From her assessment report, it was clear that Ritika was not getting enough sleep, and her work-related stress was high. As a result, her immune system’s response was impaired.
What are the signs of a weak immune system?
An individual with a weak immune system is more prone to contract infections than the general population, and these infections may be more severe or difficult to treat comparatively. Such infections include:
- Skin Infections
- Autoimmune conditions
- Inflammation of the internal organs
- Anomalies or disorders of the blood, such as anemia
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as a loss of appetite, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps
- Delays in growth and development in babies and children
Ritika displayed early symptoms of gastrointestinal problems, but she didn’t pay heed to them, causing her immune system to deteriorate.
How can a well-balanced diet improve immunity?
During her consultation session, Ritika’s mentor explained to her that all cells, including immune cells, require sufficient nutrients to function perfectly. Essential micronutrients are required at every stage of the immunological response in the body, and these are as follows –
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
During her review, the ProHeath physician explained that any diet that’s high in refined sugar, high salt, can cause disruptions in good intestinal microbes, resulting in persistent gut inflammation and reduced immunity.
The growth and maintenance of beneficial gut bacteria is also promoted by a high-fibre plant-based diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Fibers are important because they are prebiotics that break down food into short-chain fatty acids through beneficial microorganisms, which have been discovered to promote immune cell activation as they feed bacteria.
Ritika’s diet was low on fiber. Therefore, her diet lacked the necessary nutrients for her intestinal microorganisms to function properly.
On further reviewing Ritika’s assessment report, her ProHealth physician informed her that she was also deficient in Vitamin C. This was one of the reasons why she was susceptible to seasonal flu.
During the follow up call, Ritika’s health mentor explained that to boost her micro-nutrient levels, she had to add probiotic and prebiotic food items into her daily diet, along with foods rich in Vitamin C.
- Probiotic food- It contains live beneficial bacteria. Food items like kefir, yogurt with live active organisms, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha tea, kimchi, and miso are all probiotic foods.
- Prebiotic food- It contains fiber and oligosaccharides that feed and sustain healthy bacteria colonies. Examples of prebiotic food areGarlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, bananas, and seaweed.
- Vitamin C – Citrus fruits, brussels sprouts, broccoli and honey-infused tea are all good sources of Vitamin C.
Ritika’s health mentor explained the importance of including 5 activities in her daily schedule:
- Maintain a nutritious diet. A good diet, like other things in your body, is essential for a strong immune system
- Exercise regularly
- Drink water
- Get sufficient sleep
- Practice meditation, deep breathing exercises to reduce stress levels
Apollo ProHealth helped Ritika improve her immunity and lead a healthier lifestyle
After a comprehensive consultation session with her Apollo ProHealth physician and continuous monitoring and advice by her health mentor,Ritika understood the various factors affecting her immunity and the benefits of following a mentor-driven, proactive healthcare program to rebuild her immunity with proper care.
Download the Apollo ProHealth App or call us at 1-860-500-0707 to subscribe to a comprehensive & mentor-driven personalized healthcare program and take your first step towards the road to wellness now!
About Apollo ProHealth’s program
ProHealth is a unique personalized proactive health management program that brings together predictive risk analysis, cutting-edge diagnostics with physician evaluation, paving a path to wellness and designed to make positive shifts. The program has been created based on 22 million health checks, building upon Apollo’s pioneering efforts in preventive care for over 37 years.
ProHealth offers the following comprehensive and specialized health solutions:
- CoviFit – Designed to check the basic functions of vital organs, through a home sample collection & personalized health risk assessment. This program assesses the body’s ability to tackle the virus, if infected, & also share recommendations to strengthen your defenses.
- CoRe (Covid Recovery) – Designed to ensure full recovery, this program assesses your current health status through a home sample collection and personalized health risk assessment, for a physician-guided path to wellness, and follow-ups by a health mentor.
- Covid Recovery & Wellness – Designed to overcome the residual effects of Covid, this comprehensive program analyses your physical and mental health through a detailed assessment, pulmonologist review to examine your respiratory health, nutritionist consultation, for a physician-guided path to wellness, and follow-ups by a health mentor.
- Women – Designed to address overall women’s health and specific issues like PCOD, breast and cervical cancer screening and Gynaecologist consult.
- Super – A master health screening program with physician and Surgeon consults. This program entails overall assessment of your general health, heart, kidneys, liver and lungs and genital and urinary systems.
- Regal – A comprehensive assessment of the whole body, including cancer detection biomarkers with physician consult. Several specialist consultations like Cardiologist, ENT, Ophthalmologist, Dental, Surgeon, and Gynaecologist are included. Recommended for 35+ years.