Think monsoon and the first thing that comes to our mind is a steaming cup of chai, a plateful of bhajiyas and pakodas and maybe even a bowl full of soupy Maggi. Ahhhh...the best way to be enjoying the season: Letting your hair loose, sipping on some chai and munching on something warm and spicy. Sadly, the rain also brings with it a number of infections and illnesses that may dampen the otherwise happy monsoon.
So, if you're going to be wading through rainwater to get to work, it's important that you prepare your body from the inside out. You will have to start by first saying no to street food, no matter how tempting those vada pavs and paani puris may look—it's a strict no-no. Next, only drink fresh or boiled water. Avoid eating foods that have been left open for long and lastly follow this healthy eating guide. You can thank us later.
Healthy SoupsYour grandma was right, there can’t be a better way to beat the monsoon chills than with a bowl of hot soup. Soups with an added pinch of ginger, garlic and other spices (the more, the better) help keep cold and flu at bay by warding off bacterial and viral infections. Moreover, soups help you stay hydrated and warm on dark and gloomy rainy days. Studies suggest that chicken soup, the most popular remedy of all, helps strengthen your body as it’s a good source of proteins and other essential nutrients.
On the other hand, soups made with veggies such as spinach, mushroom, pumpkin and broccoli are immune-system-booster foods that provide your body with its daily source of essential vitamins, minerals and other antioxidants that help fight infections. Soups with meats other than chicken are a good source of vitamin B, iron, zinc and also protein. Besides, soups made using dals such as toor, masoor or moong dal—all of which are a good source of energy and proteins—up the body’s mechanism to combat any illness.
SpicesMake sure to add a dash of immunity-boosting spices such as turmeric, mustard, asafoetida (hing), paprika, cumin, coriander, fenugreek (methi), cloves, pepper, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, oregano (dried ajwain), basil (tulsi) and curry leaves in your cooking. Studies suggest that including them in your daily meals can help improve your overall health, strengthening your body’s defence forces, thereby helping you stay in the pink of health.
While turmeric, ginger and garlic end up being used in almost every basic Indian meal, from dals to soups, curries and even varied rice preparations, you could also throw in some dried basil, oregano or methi leaves for an added dose of health in all your dish. Adding a dash of cinnamon powder to your desserts could help spice them up a bit.
Make it a habit to start your day with a cup of adrak chai. Sonia Kakkar, a clinical dietician says, “Ginger tea can help improve immunity and digestive health, and also lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It’s best to stick to one to three cups of ginger tea daily to stay healthy and fight infections. However, make sure you also follow a nutritious diet and active lifestyle to enhance your health.” Another habit to pick up during the monsoon is chewing on foods for the immune system likea clove of garlic or fresh tulsi or methi leaves on an empty stomach in the mornings to help keep the doctor away.
Fresh and Dried FruitsFruits not only help add essential fibre to your diet but are also nutrient-rich and contain vitamins and minerals needed for the smooth functioning of your bodies. Most fruits are low in calories and make for healthy snacks. Kothari says, “Make sure you include some seasonal hydrating fruits such as papayas, peaches, plums, bananas as they all have ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and retinol which help up your immunity levels.”
However, Disha Jhaveri, a Mumbai-based clinical nutritionist cautions, “Fruits aren’t ‘free foods’ and therefore, avoid mindlessly snacking.” They do contain sugar and can contribute to high cholesterol levels when eaten in abundance, she warns. Additionally, don’t forget to munch on a handful of dried fruits such as dates, almonds and walnuts. Walnuts are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fibres, proteins, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, all of which are essential for enhancing your body’s overall health.
On the other hand, pistachios, dates and apricots too are certain foods which are eaten to increase immunity. While these dried fruits make for a good evening snack, you could also use them to naturally sweeten your desserts, while helping up your health game.
Fermented FoodsYoghurt and other fermented foods such as lassi, kimchi, kombucha, miso or even pickled veggies are foods which can be eaten to improve immunity, helping you stay at your usual best despite the heavy showers. Loaded with good bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, these fermented immune-boosting foods aid digestion, helping your gut stay healthy and stimulating your body’s ability to fight disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
Studies suggest that the process of fermentation helps reduce the contamination of food, killing or stopping the growth of bad bacteria. You could satiate your sweet-tooth cravings by replacing sugar-laden desserts with a bowl of unflavoured yoghurt. For a dash of natural sweetness, throw in some chopped seasonal fruits and lick clean your bowl of good health. Sip on a glass of lassi or buttermilk daily for added benefits.
Also Read: 6 Delicious Ways to Liven Up Your Lassi
Healthy DrinksAdd turmeric or saffron to your warm glass of milk, and say cheers to a healthy you. These flavoured milks are known to have the power to prevent sore throats, and help get rid of coughs or colds. Kothari suggests adding some crushed ginger to your drink to help keep the sniffles at bay.
Herbal teas made using tulsi leaves, chamomile flowers or peppermint leaves can help provide your body with a good dose of polyphenols, flavonoids and antioxidants which help destroy free radicals known to damage healthy cells, keeping you at your physical best. Drinking a glass of ginger juice with some honey and a dash of cinnamon is another natural cure for your sinuses.
An online study found that ginger can provide immediate relief from migraine headaches due to its natural healing properties. While honey, on the other hand, can help get rid of sore throats due to its soothing property.
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