Healthy You

Your health guide for the monsoon

While the rainy season comes with the pleasant respite from the scorching heat, it is also a harbinger of unpleasantries such as the flu and indigestion. Special attention needs to be paid to your health and fitness if you do not wish to be under the weather. To help you out with the same, we have Pavithra N Raj, Dietician Executive, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur who dishes out some nuggets of wisdom.

Keeping the tummy in good shape

As you must already be aware, every season calls for a bit of alteration of diet. The monsoon is no exception, especially considering the high cases of food poisoning that occur at this time. Reason being, the weather is highly conducive to harmful bacteria to breed on open and stale food. Pavithra advises, “Eat only hot cooked fresh food all the time. Do not consume anything that has a strange odour or mould.” She recommends going for rasam with garlic or hing tadka, hot soups, steamed and protein-rich foods like dhokla and sundals, puffed rice rather than fried foods.

Another food that you must include in your diet is yoghurt. The nutritionist stresses, “People have a myth that in cold season yoghurt will be avoided. But consuming it during this time helps to keep the digestive system healthy.”

The immunity boosters

If there was any a time for your immunity to receive a boost, this is it. Cold and coughs are rampant during the season and if you are in the office, the AC and closed spaces will only ensure that they spread. Once again, what you put on your plate can make a big difference.

-Proteins and antioxidants

Think proteins and antioxidant-rich foods. Says Pavithra, “It helps to build up immunity, fight infection and to keep our lungs safe from diseases.” Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and helps the body fight infection. So, load on the nuts and seeds, plant oil and vegetables. Also, do not hesitate to have bitter vegetables like karela and bitter herbs like neem and haldi. They contain antioxidants, medicinal properties and prevent infection.

-Vitamin C

How can we forget the good old vitamin C that will help you drive away the cold virus faster? As per Pavithra, amla is an excellent source of Vitamin C, hence it helps boost your immunity and metabolism as well as prevent viral and bacterial ailments, including cold and cough.

-Vitamin B6

This nutrient is vital for supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system. It aids in maintaining a healthy nervous system. And keep in mind, those with Vitamin B6 deficiency are susceptible to muscle pains in monsoon season. To avoid this, opt for whole cereals – such as oatmeal, wheat germ and brown rice, soya beans as well as eggs.

Leafy greens, to have or not to have?

Want to have your greens but worried that they will be infected with worms at this point of time? Pavithra advises avoiding raw leafy vegetables due to the presence of mud, dirt and worms (cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, coriander etc). She suggests washing them in warm water and then use for cooking instead. Or, you can consume green leafy vegetables by washing them with lukewarm salt water /turmeric water. If you are taking raw fruits and vegetables then clean them with purified water, peel the skin and then consume.

Natural remedies for cold and cough

In case you or anybody from your family has already been bitten by the flu bug, we have some natural remedies that can be considered. It is always better to reach for something in the kitchen than stuffing yourself with medicines. Pavithra suggests drinking herbal tea like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, masala tea and basil leaves tea as these are having antibacterial and antioxidant properties.

Black pepper will not only help in that pesky cough but also in keeping it at bay too. Says Pavithra, “It has antibacterial properties and will maintain the body temperature in the monsoon.” Enjoy the spice in your omelette, soups, khichdi, etc.  Another option is to always drink milk with turmeric as it has antibacterial properties and helps relieve stress too.

Other tips to keep in mind according to Pavithra …

  • Prefer foods at room temperature. Do not consume stale and refrigerated items like ice cream, cold juices, golas, kulfis, etc. Street food should be strictly avoided.
  • Drink boiled and cooled water or purified water instead of refrigerated one.
  • Opt for a steamed salad instead of raw salads to avoid infections.
  • Opt for grilled sandwiches, homemade soups, and boiled corns as a healthy snack in the diet.
  • Foods such as oats, brown rice and millets are healthier choices in the monsoon.
  • Include protein and iron-rich foods like almonds, walnuts, raisins, dates in the diet.
  • Other protein-rich snacks like sundal, boiled grams usli (channa, rajma, and soya), boiled groundnuts, and eggs are a healthier choice compared to fried one.
  • Water intake may reduce naturally because of a sudden drop in temperature of the environment. It is good to drink plenty of water and do not wait to get thirsty. This will help drain toxins from the body.
  • Do not compensate your liquid intake with carbonated, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks as the preservative in them acts as a diuretic.

Wishing you a healthy and safe monsoon!

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