Include anti-oxidants, seasonal fruits like plums, peaches, prunes, jamuns and gourds that are easy to digest, suggests Dr Eileen Canday.
While the monsoon has its charm, it is also a season that brings along different diseases.
From food poisoning, diarrhea, infections, cold, and flu to many other health risks, we can fall prey to a host of health issues in this season.
And, when COVID-19 is wreaking havoc all over the world, the monsoon could be even more dangerous to your health. Therefore, you need to make sure that the food you eat strikes the best balance between nutrition and immunity.
A healthy and home-cooked diet will absolve you of most of your worries, but take extra care to eliminate any chance of contamination.
Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consumption and for better results, soak them in a mix of water and vinegar. This will rid them of all the dust particles.
What’s best for this season is the following list of foods that will help you fight infections during the rains and help to maintain better health during the monsoon.
Not only do these foods help amp up your immunity they also have benefits to boost your health overall.
These foods can be included in form of smoothies, flavored teas, homemade kadhas, and herbal concoctions.
Turmeric is known as the golden spice of the kitchen.
Not only does it boost your natural immunity, but it takes care of your overall health.
Turmeric is incredibly purifying.
It is a magnificent source of anti-fungal, anti-microbial, and anti-bacterial extracts that can help you fight infections and boost immunity.
Dense in antioxidants, this magical spice promotes overall well-being.
The active compound in turmeric helps us keep healthy and fight infections keeping diseases away during the monsoon.
A pinch of turmeric in a glass of milk or with honey in hot water would be ideal.
Monsoons are the time when we are more prone to catching diseases.
Lemon is a great source of vitamin C and strengthens our immunity.
Vitamin C, the need of the hour, helps fight infections, eases digestion, takes care of your skin, and does a lot many things for your body.
Squeeze lemon juice on your food, grind lemon zest to a dish, or simply drink a glass of lemonade, this citrusy delight will take care of your nutrition and immunity.
3. Amla (Indian Gooseberry)
The tiny green fruit offers a range of health benefits such as improved digestion and helps attain healthy skin and hair.
It is known to work wonders for immunity and is also known as a powerful home remedy to treat colds and coughs.
Take one freshly squeezed amla and have it with a drop of honey to keep diseases at bay.
4. Methi (Fenugreek)
Fenugreek is an herb long used in alternative medicine.
It’s a common ingredient in Indian dishes and is often taken as a supplement.
Consuming fenugreek seeds aids in digestion and facilitates bowel movement.
For thousands of years, fenugreek has been used in alternative medicine and Chinese medicine to treat skin conditions and many other diseases.
In addition, they contain minerals and bioactive compounds and are a powerhouse of benefits.
They have anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, hypocholesterolaemia, anti-inflammatory effects, and many other benefits for the body.
Fenugreek seeds also prevent constipation and gastric problems.
Since they are rich in antioxidants and fibres it will help protect the gut from digestion issues, which are common during monsoons.
You can mix one teaspoon of fenugreek powder with warm water and drink it first thing in the morning or use it in curries or tea for enhanced flavour and health benefits.
Drinking a cup of ginger tea has been a traditional go-to remedy to manage colds and coughs.
Gingerol is the active component in ginger, which helps to provide instant relief.
It may help your body fight off acute as well as chronic infections.
One of the most prominent benefits of ginger is its quality to fight viral infections in monsoons.
Ginger oil is especially beneficial during monsoon as it triggers the immune system naturally and helps prevent many diseases.
Ginger is rich in antioxidants, compounds that protect from stress-related damage to your body’s DNA.
It offers relief from several respiratory ailments that are common in the rainy season. It works as a natural remedy for cough, cold, fever, flu symptoms, and body aches.
6. Masala Chai
Indian masala tea, with the perfect blend of spices like ginger, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, tulsi leaves, and dried black pepper, is known to be a natural immunity-boosting brew since age-old traditions.
This drink is a bank of medicinal and anti-inflammatory properties.
Spices and condiments like cardamom, cloves, and peppercorn are effective against many viral infections and have been used to relieve runny nose, and fever and soothe sore throat common during the monsoon flu.
So, if you are a tea drinker, consider masala tea as your go-to medical concoction and steer the side effects of monsoon away.
Probiotics are good bacteria that live in our gut or intestinal tract.
These bacteria can help fight off harmful bacteria from thriving in our bodies.
Probiotics when consumed regularly can help to boost immunity, especially for those who are more prone to gut-related infections and digestive issues.
Foods like curd, kefir, and pickled vegetables are natural sources of probiotics, which provide you with beneficial effects on your gut.
You can include curd in form of raita, buttermilk, and lassi. Include fermented salads like sauerkraut and kimchi along with your meals or sip on some kombucha tea.
Proteins help to build up your body’s immunity. Including proteins during monsoons is very crucial as the body needs immunity to help fight against viral infections which are on a rise during this season.
We need this vital nutrient to develop white blood cells that are accountable for fighting infections and have a major role to play in healing and building its tissues.
Including good sources of proteins in your meals not only helps to fight the infections but also helps in recovery from illness.
Some good vegetarian sources of protein include milk, yogurt, paneer, tofu, sprouts, lentils, and pulses, nuts like walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and seeds like chia, flax, and hemp seeds.
Eggs, chicken, salmon, meat, prawns, and crabs are protein-rich sources in non-vegetarian diets.
These can be incorporated into your meals in form of chicken salad, three-bean salad, sesame dressing, chickpeas dressing, hummus, egg rolls, lentil soups, chicken soups, chickpeas cutlets, moong dal chillas or dhoklas, baked beans, masala omelets, paneer wraps, or chia yogurt pudding.
9. Monsoon fruits (plums, peaches, prunes)
Monsoon brings many infections, body allergies, and gastrointestinal disorders. You are also prone to skin rashes, digestive difficulties, and viral infections.
To avoid catching these health issues, get yourself prepared with seasonal fruits like plums, peaches, prunes, jamuns, and more.
These seasonal fruits boost your energy levels and make you fit and active all day as they are rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, including fibres, copper, potassium, Vitamin C, and K.
They are packed with plant compounds, which have antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties that may help to prevent disease like dengue, malaria, and typhoid.
This makes them helpful in fighting infections and reducing inflammation in the body.
Vitamin C in plums and peaches is useful to prevent the common cold and flu during monsoons.
B vitamins present in the fruits also help better the functioning of the immune system.
Peaches help to keep your eye and skin healthy during rain.
These fruits are also helpful against monsoon skin problems like acne and spots.
Prunes are rich in fibre which helps combat acidity and indigestion.
You can have these fruits as mid-meal snacks or have them with whole-grain cereal, top them with low-fat milk or yogurt and have it in form of smoothies or milkshakes.
10. Gourd vegetables
Monsoon is a season of gourds, like snake gourds, bottle gourds, Indian squash, and ridge gourd.
They are easy to digest and contain a number of nutritional benefits. They are high in B vitamins and vitamin C, which have anti-oxidative properties.
Include gourd vegetables in a variety of preparations. You can include them as curries, dudhi parathas, pumpkin soup, dudhi soup, and cucumber raita.
While you enjoy the rains, do not forget to eat healthy, seasonal, and local.
These super healthy, monsoon-friendly foods will provide you with plenty of nutrition to keep your body healthy and well.
At the same time, you must also ensure that food is not left uncovered and is freshly prepared before eating.
If fruits and vegetables are not consumed immediately after cutting or chopping, they should be covered well and stored hygienically to be consumed later.
Opt for simple meals such as dal-rice, vegetable khichdi, dudhi and pumpkin soups, and vegetable paratha with raita, which are lighter on the stomach and are easily digested and absorbed.
Dr Eileen Canday is the head of department of nutrition and dietetics at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai.
Dr Canday holds a PhD in nutrition and specialises in critical care, oncology, renal nutrition, bariatric nutrition, weight loss and nutrigenetic.
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