Every monsoon brings with it a variety of issues that affect our health. The pitta in the environment increases at this time of year, along with an imbalance of the vata dosha. The monsoon is the best time to balance and pacify both elements in the body.
The imbalance in the pitta dosha can lead to pimples, small skin eruptions, frequent skin infections, oily and scaly scalp and excessive hairfall. Here are some health guidelines for the season.
Foods that are ideal for the monsoon include those that promote cooling of the stomach to pacify the pitta dosha, as well as foods that are warm and contain salt, which pacify the vata, and finally, foods that cleanse the body.
Warm vegetable broths and soups are ideal for this time of year. Foods like oat rotis and rotis made with wheat flour and barley are ideal as they help the body lose excess water. Barley is specifically a monsoon food.
Bhutta or roasted snacks are also monsoon-friendly foods. At this time of year, indulge in a variety of snacks like homemade steamed momos, roasted or baked chana, murmura, roasted dals, popcorn and homemade bhelpuri.
Bitter vegetables like neem, bitter gourd, parwal, cluster beans, apple gourd (tinda) and fenugreek are also suitable for the rainy season.
Avoid excessive coffee and tea as it dehydrates the body. Instead, opt for herbal decoctions like tea with ginger powder or mint leaves.
Also, don’t eat too little or too much. It is best to eat five small meals to keep the digestive system at ease.
While eating out
The monsoon is the breeding time for all organisms. Consume only popular items on the restaurant menu and only hot items from street vendors to minimise the risk of infection. Avoid pickles, chutneys and sauces that are sweet and have been kept for a while at room temperature as they could be loaded with harmful microorganisms. Frozen foods like ice cream must be consumed fresh out of the freezer as milk is a very rich ground for breeding bacteria.
Avoid non-vegetarian food in the monsoon. Drink clean and pure water as waterborne monsoon diseases like diarrhea and gastrointestinal infections are common. Drinking boiled water at home is strongly recommended as opposed to tap water.
For upset stomachs
* Drink plenty of liquids like nimbu paani with a pinch of salt and a little sugar or coconut water (it has the best electrolyte balance).
* Always keep oral rehydration salts sachets handy to prevent dehydration.
For coughs and colds
These natural remedies are excellent:
* Add half tsp of turmeric (haldi) to one cup of milk, consume thrice daily.
* Add a small piece of crushed ginger or a few tulsi and mint leaves to tea.
* Inhaling steam with neem and tulsi leaves helps in clearing up sinuses.
* Gargle with salt water thrice a day.
* Drink fresh radish juice.
* Avoid using too many hair products and use a mild herbal shampoo and gentle conditioner.
* Use a salve/mask of aloe vera, neem, triphala powder, mehendi and shikakai on hair.
* Eat a protein-enriched diet along with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
* Use a natural mung dal paste face scrub twice a week to exfoliate skin.
* Avoid heavy moisturising creams or oily foundations and cream-basedcolour makeup.
* Walking in dirty water during the rainy season can lead to numerous fungal infections that can affect toes and nails. Always keep your feet dry and clean.
* Wash your hands before eating or feeding kids, or use hand sanitisers.
* Wash fruits and vegetables properly to clean dirt and bacteria from them. Leafy vegetables should be cleaned with more attention as they may
contain worms and larvae.
* Opt for a light nutrition diet, including cereals, and cook vegetables in
minimum oil. Oily, fried food is difficult to digest.
* To avoid water retention, do not eat sour food like pickles, tamarind and chutneys which add zing to the meal but become heavy in the body.
* Add pipali and rock salt to warm water to reduce mucous formation. This can be the best natural cure for monsoon ailments.
From HT Brunch, July 29
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