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Fit to fight

A healthy immune system can go a long way in keeping cancer at bay, writes Dr Anjali Mukerjee.

health and fitness Updated: Jan 08, 2009 19:52 IST

Did you know that most of us have a few cancer cells floating around in our bodies at some point of time or the other? They keep a look out for a weak spot where they can begin their destruction. Our defense system begins to produce antibodies to destroy them. But the moment this defense mechanism weakens, the cancer cells multiply rapidly and damage major body organs.

If you’ve been eating sensibly, you may get rid of these cancer causing cells and not even know that your body had them. Scientist says that the difference between those who don’t get cancer and those who do is a strong immune system fortified with correct food habits, intake of adequate vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The immune system doesn’t work well in anyone who is undernourished.

Why does cancer happen?
Cancer has always been a threat to our health for a long time, and its incidence has increased in the industrial era, coinciding with our increasingly toxic environment. There has been extensive research on what causes cancer. The reasons, it has been found, range from genetics to life style, environment, and toxins. Of the five million registered chemicals in the world, we encounter 70,000 of them on a regular basis. Of those, at least 20,000 are carcinogenic (cancer causing).

As we grow older, we get exposed to toxins in the food that we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. Each of the 60 trillion cells in our body face at least 1,000 ‘hits’ or carcinogen attacks every day. We wallow in our own hi-tech wastes of industrial pollutants, electromagnetic radiation, environmental toxins, chemicals, insect sprays, agricultural pollutants, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, mental stress and internal toxins, all of which weaken our immunity.

How nutrition can help
The human body is built from food and is also repaired by your diet. Nutritional therapy tries to re-establish ‘balance’ in the body by helping it to detoxify, correct its pH balance (acid base balance), build resistance and provide nourishment to enable it to fight the regular toxins that it ingests. Vitamins and minerals play a significant role in improving immune function. If you are eating reasonably, a standard multi vitamin pill will be sufficient. If you know that you are abusing your body, you need a specific nutrition plan designed to suit your body’s vitamin supplements. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist regarding this.

Avoid stress
Stress, say from work pressures, causes your immune system to shut down. Avoid it by talking to a close friend or or writing down your problems or trying to laugh them off. It is important to know that cancer cannot invade a healthy body. Make your body healthy and the cancer simply goes away. Keeping your body’s defence mechanism in good shape is the only way to fight these terrorists within.

Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre

First Published: Jan 08, 2009 19:50 IST