The thought of hot pakoras with a cup of cutting chai at a stall while you wait for that train, bus or taxi, sure seems like an alluring option in the monsoon. But it isn't the wisest one, say experts. This season is fraught with the danger of infections caused by bacteria and viruses. "The change in temperature, risk of water contamination, and water stagnation during the monsoon can trigger several viral infections and waterborne diseases. This is the season when one must be careful about what to eat," says Hetal Pandya, head nutritionist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.
To begin with, street food is a strict no-no. "Bhajiyas, Vada Pav, Bhel, Pani Puri and other chaat items seem enticing, but try to avoid them," says Dr Manjusha Agarwal, general physician, Global Hospitals. For the diehard fans, she suggests putting together these recipes at home instead.
Among the other items that can be avoided in the rainy season are pre-cut fruits and vegetables. "Be particularly careful about leafy vegetables like cabbage, spinach and fenugreek (methi), as the presence of mud, dirt and worms skyrockets these days. Wash them really well before consuming them," adds Agarwal.
Apart from eating right, Pandya also stresses on the importance of keeping the body hydrated, and strengthened from within. "The cardamom and cinnamon used in making masala tea can keep throat infections and the common cold at bay. You can also stick to black tea to keep your body fighting fit," she adds.
In the monsoon, one often forgets to drink water through the day. But consuming at least eight glasses a day is a must. "Also have natural diuretics like jasmine tea and barley sattu," says Sweety Mandot, dietician, Bhatia Hospital, Tardeo, Mumbai. Eating a lot of water-heavy vegetables like bottle guard and narwal, as well as fruits such as melons is another option.
According to Mandot, "One should avoid eating excessive amounts of sour foods like tamarind, chutneys and pickles, as they promote water retention in the body. Avoid dehydrating drinks like caffeine-rich colas and energy drinks this season."
Spicy food leads to bloating due to water retention as well, so the controlled consumption of salt is also advised. Herbal remedies like lemon tea, or incorporating sabja seeds (also known as falooda seeds and basil seeds) in your daily diet, can help reduce cravings and bloating.
Meanwhile, to boost digestion, Pandya suggests relying on high fibre foods like corn, chickpea and oats, or including digestive ingredients like ajwain, saunf and cumin seeds (jeera) in the diet.