It’s finally raining, and everything around is fresh and rejunevated. But while some are celebrating the monsoon with hot chai and pakodas, others are battling the usual woes — commuting troubles, bout of seasonal diseases and infections and a general hit to their immunity. Add a few intelligent food options to your daily diet, and you can avoid monsoon-related ailments without much trouble.We speak to a few experts and list immunity-boosting foods that you should make a part of your daily diet, this season, to keep illness at bay.
"Your immune system can weaken during these times of humidity and alternating heat and cold. It needs extra strength to help ward off cold, cough and flu. Eating the right kind of food can give a boost to your immune system," says Mukta Dhamankar, a dietician.
Also read: Indulge in healthy food, but mind the portion
She suggests consuming seasonal vegetables and fruits to kick-start your immune system. In addition to the usual suspects — tulsi, garlic, ginger and honey — there are a host of other foods that can help you build up your resistance.
"Kantola (spiny gourd) is available only in the rainy season and contains bioflavonoids and carotenoids. It is also rich in vitamin C and aids production of enzymes that protect against diseases," says Dr Nupur Krishnan, clinical nutritionist and director. Jamun is another fruit she recommends, citing its "powerful antioxidants and phytonutrients".
Explaining the types of vegetables that you should be eating more often during the rainy season, Miral Sheth, dietician, says, "Include coloured vegetables, especially yellow, orange and green ones in your diet.
But don’t forget to wash them thoroughly with warm water and salt to disinfect before cooking them."
Having back tea is another good way to keep viruses away. "Black tea contains amino acid, L-theanine, and a phytochemical, catechin, that help develop virus-fighting abilities in the body," says Neeraj Mehta, fitness professional and nutritionist.
Make these at home:
Chirata leaf (kariyatu) is a herb that contains kalameghin. Bitter in taste, it has therapeutic powers and is packed with antibacterial, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, digestive, blood purifying and prophylactic properties. Steep a handful of leaves or stems in water and boil till it reduces to half. Drink half a cup and consume within two hours of making.
Lemon, ginger and honey in a jar
You can make this immunity-boosting, body-soothing concoction ahead of time and store in the fridge. It doesn’t spoil for months if refrigerated. Slice two lemons and two large pieces (about the size of your pointer and middle fingers) of ginger.
Place the lemon and ginger slices in an airtight jar, alternating the layers. Pour honey slowly over the layers, allowing it to saturate the slices. Fill the jar with honey and seal tightly. Store in a refrigerator. Over time, the mixture will start to turn into a loose jelly. When you are in need of a soothing tea, scoop 2-3 tbsp into a mug full of hot water. Allow to steep for 3-4 minutes and sip.
Add just under 1/2 tsp each of ginger powder, fennel seeds and cinnamon, and a pinch of clove powder to one cup of hot water. Let the herbs steep for about 10 minutes; then strain and drink.
1Celery leaves are low on calories, and are a rich source of fibre and potassium.
2 Bitter gourd helps combat gastrointestinal diseases and kills parasitic worms. It also cures stomach problems and helps you fight infections.
3Papaya leaf contains acetogenins, tannins and flavonoids that help in enhancing immunity. It also cures dengue fever and reduces stomach inflammation.
4 Asafoetida (heeng) aids digestion, cures colic and stagnation in the gastrointestinal tract. It is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and alleviates digestion problems like bloating and indigestion.
5 Ajwain leaves or seeds help the stomach release gastric juices that speed up digestion. It also relieves nausea, flatulence, indigestion and abdominal pain.
6 Turmeric contains curcumin that has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect and is a strong antioxidant.
7 Oats and barley have beta glucan that enhance the human immune system’s response to bacterial infections.
8 Mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells to fight infections. They are full of alpha and beta glucan molecules.
9 Brown rice has selenium, which promotes a strong immune system. It’s a good source of complex carbohydrates that provide energy and fend off bad bacteria.