The first drop of rain brings along the much-awaited relief from the scorching heat, welcoming monsoons with a smile. Climate changes from hot, humid to cold, and rainy, and we may get wet in the rain at times.
But with relief in hot weather, rains also bring flu, cough and cold, viral fevers and unending bacterial, viral & fungal infections, indigestion, jaundice, diarrhoea. Making small changes in eating habits can beat the bugs by strengthening our immune system.
The simplest way to boost immunity is through a good diet, adequate sleep, exercise and stress control. A healthy immune system requires a number of nutrients in balance, including proteins, essential fats, vitamins and minerals.
- Proteins play an important role in the immune system. With inadequate dietary proteins, the body cannot make as many antibodies as it needs.
- Vitamin A and beta-carotene help maintain healthy surface lining membranes of the skin, the first line of defence against bacterial, parasitic and viral attack. Good sources include dark greens, yellow-orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, mango, butter, egg yolk, cheese, fish liver oils, papaya etc.
- Vitamin C enables the lymphocytes of the immune system to function properly. It’s requirement increases during illness. It acts as an antioxidant and protects against reactive chemicals (free radicals) produced by the body which can harm the body in many ways. Deficiency of this vitamin leads to lower immune response. Good sources of vitamin C include Indian gooseberry (amla), citrus fruits, tomatoes, lemon, lemon zest, green peppers, green leafy vegetables, kiwi, broccoli, and strawberries.
- Vitamin E also boosts immune functions. It is best taken through natural sources, including wheat germ, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and leafy vegetables.
- Zinc is vital for immunity. Zinc deficient people are prone to depressed immunity, common cold and poor growth. Good sources of zinc include nuts, seeds and whole grains.
- Selenium, an important mineral and an antioxidant boost the immune function and fight infections. It interacts with vitamin E in antioxidant systems and with iodine in thyroid hormone metabolism. Good sources include brown rice, wheat germ, whole wheat bread, poultry, fish, garlic, organ meats and seafood.
- Essential fats like omega-3 fats that can be obtained from cold-pressed oils, nuts, seeds, fatty fish and seafood also help maintain immunity.
- Probiotics promote the body’s natural immunity, help in digestion, keep the harmful bacteria suppressed and help to reduce the effects of irritable digestion, weakness, sneezing fits of seasonal allergies. They also strengthen the cell membranes and prevent allergens from crossing into the cells in your stomach. Good sources of probiotics include yoghurt, buttermilk (chaach), and kefir (thin drinkable yoghurt). In commercially available varieties the cultures may not be live, however, special probiotic drinks and foods are commercially being formulated with live cultures.
- A prebiotic is a substance found in other foods like whole grains, pulses, beans, vegetables, fruits and seeds.
# “Special dietary guidelines for monsoon” –
- Diet, in general, should be light, low in fat and easily digestible. Forego a heavy meal.
- Rich, oily, salty and spicy food must be avoided and also extremely cold food and cold beverages. Avoid heavy oils like mustard and sesame during the monsoon.
- Avoid bakery and refined flour (maida) items. Some people are sensitive to bananas, curd etc.
- Skip eating outside. Avoid eating chaats, sandwiches, fried food such as pakoras and juices from roadside vendors.
- Hot liquids like soups, hot milk, hot water, ginger ale, tulsi tea, green tea, chamomile tea, turmeric milk provide relief and help fight infections.
- Use herbs like tulsi, garlic, ginger and honey. They have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, some antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
- Go for probiotic supplements.
- Coloured fruits and vegetables are also great immunity boosters. Darker the colour of fruits and vegetables, more concentrated are they the sources of anti-oxidants, which fortify the immune system and make you less susceptible to seasonal allergic syndromes.
Eat seasonal fruits with dark colours like pomegranates, plums, carrots, red grapes and various berries etc.
- Be cautious with green leafy vegetables, which may contain larvae and worms. Opt for non-leafy ones such as snake gourd (turai), bottle gourd (ghia/dudhi), pointed gourd (parwal), cluster beans (gavaar), apple gourd (tinda) and bitter gourd (karela).
- Contaminated food can cause malaria and jaundice, particularly during this season. Wash all vegetables and fruits with clean water. You can also steam vegetables in order to kill germs. Avoid eating raw food and salads unless these are organic and cleaned well. Rather opt for lightly steamed salads and sprouts. You can blanch the vegetables to disinfect them from germs and bacteria.
Blanching also helps the veggies from losing its colour, texture.
Maintain your health during monsoon and boost your immunity with these guidelines.
Enjoy the rainy weather!!
#eathealthy #eatclean #behappy