- During monsoon eat a healthy diet to boost your immunity
- Drink hot soup and add a variety of spices to your diet
- Staying hydrated is also important during monsoon
Most of the cities have already started to experience the pre-monsoon showers and it's predicted that the monsoons should be here in full swing anytime! While this season is such a respite from the heat, the monsoon season comes with its own set of problems like viral fever, cough, cold, stomach infections, dengue, and malaria. Usually with the onset of heavy reasons, your immune system tends to get compromised due to bacterial or viral infections. It goes without saying that a strong immune system and taking precautions is what's going to help you recover quickly and protect you against infections.
Whether its prevention, recovery, healing - all that matters is your immune system as it's the first and last line of defense. Your immune system is made up of immune cells and each of these cells needs to have the right amount of energy through the food you eat, the water your drink and the air you breathe. This is how one maintains a strong immune system.
There are foods that can help you enhance your immune system through this season, but these don't magically boost your immunity. They assist. Your immune system is a function of your overall lifestyle - right nutrition, quality and quantity of water, rest, recovery, sleep, emotional detox and an active lifestyle to help circulate all the nutrients to all the trillions of cells in your body.
Simple, easily available and inexpensive foods you can add to your diet this monsoon season
1. Hot Soups
Think monsoons, think hot soups. You can make a pumpkin soup, tomato soup, moringa soup, green pea soup, mixed vegetable soup or even something as simple as rasam. Pumpkin is a fantastic immunity booster due to a high concentration of beta carotene; vitamin C. Make sure you add garlic and ginger as they are highly anti-inflammatory and garlic literally works as an antibiotic and antifungal food. To this preparation, you can also add chillies, unless you have an acidity issue. Chillies are extremely rich in vitamin C too. In case you are a non-vegetarian, a simple chicken broth with spices and vegetables is a fantastic immune boosting food.
Do you know why? Because of its extremely potent antifungal properties. Monsoons bring the risks of even acquiring fungal infections because the dampness and moisture provides a perfect and a conducive environment for it to thrive.
You could simply brew oregano tea or season your salad and food with dried/fresh oregano leaves depending on what's available. Even 1-2 drops of edible oregano essential oil mixed in your water or soup works great. Oregano also benefits the respiratory system and helps loosen up the mucus and phlegm, especially when sipped warm.
3. Nuts and seeds
Whether it's hot or cold, you cannot go wrong with unsalted almonds, walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds. Make sure you have some amount of these in a day. It could be a handful or less than that, but do not over do them. Keep them balanced.
4. Cooked Crucifers
These are cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, radish and are fantastic for controlling inflammation, fighting bacterial infections and powerful immune boosters. Make sure they are well cleaned and cooked/steamed/blanched especially if you have a thyroid condition due to its goitrogenic effect. You can turn them into soups, stir frys, soups or vegetable preparations.
5. Masala box/spice kit
Stock up on common kitchen spices because these are your go-tos during monsoons. Make use of common kitchen spices to boost immunity, such as turmeric, cumin, methi seeds, ginger, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, curry leaves, tulsi/basil leaves, and black pepper. You can make a concoction or a water infusion, or simply add these to your daily cooking.
You can also brew all of it together into a steaming cup of chai, without refined sugar. Instead, replace that with jaggery and you will notice how it only enhances the taste. So, in case your body craves that cup of chai this monsoon, you know you can go for it. Only make it the right way and add spices!
Chai Masala -
- 1/4 cup Cloves
- 1/4 cup Green Cardamom (Elaichi)
- 1/4 cup Black Peppercorns
- 1 tbsp Fennel Seeds (Saunf)
- 6-inch Sri Lankan Cinnamon (Dalchini)
- 2 tbsp dry Ginger powder
- 1 Nutmeg grated
1. Mix all the ingredients (except Nutmeg) in a blender and blend to make a coarse powder. Grate the nutmeg in the powder.
2. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.
3. Use 1/4 tsp of this powder for each cup of Indian masala chai, or add 1/4 tsp in 1 cup boiling water, sip and relish.
All of the foods mentioned above, when put together with the right lifestyle changes, is your monsoon sickness prevention plan! It all comes down to your immune system. You can have an incredibly fit body or a size zero figure or six-packs, but without a robust immune system, all of it is useless.
(Luke Coutinho is a Holistic Lifestyle Coach - Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine)
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