By Dr Anjali Mukerjee
The monsoon dampens your immunity, and exposes you to many diseases. Find below tips and recipes to help you stay well
The appetite-robbing days of summer are gone, and the monsoon cool tempts you to gorge on bhajiyas, sweets, and ever-larger helpings at mealtimes. After all, you have to make up for lost time! But temper that hearty appetite with a dose of caution – the monsoon is the time when diseases, particularly of the digestive system, are rampant.
The monsoon reduces our immunity, and makes us susceptible to many diseases, which are commonly associated with this season. While you must take regular precautions, like boiling water, and avoiding street food, or food prepared in bulk, here are a few specific guidelines about eating during the rains.
The cardinal rule is that you should never eat when you aren’t hungry. You can eat something in the winter just because you find it appetising. Doing this in the monsoon is an invitation to indigestion and accompanying illnesses. Here’s how to increase immunity and combat diseases:
The digestive system gets weakened due to dehydration in summer. This leads to low digestive power. This is further weakened by vitiation of doshas and dhatus due to monsoon. Hence, following a diet which increases your power of digestion, and strengthens the digestive system, would be beneficial in the rainy season.
• Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly, particularly leafy ones and cauliflowers.
• Eat moderate quantities of food, as the body finds it harder to digest food during the monsoon.
• Drink warm beverages. Add mint or ginger or dry ginger powder to tea.
• Include naturally sour food (not fermented) like tamarind, tomato, lime, thin buttermilk and kokum in your diet — in soups, saars, dals and vegetables.
• Moong dal, especially the watery kind, is easy to digest.
• Garlic, pepper, ginger, asafoetida, sonth, turmeric, coriander and jeera enhance your body’s digestive power and improve immunity.
• Vegetables recommended during the rains: bhindi, dudhi, parwal, suran, roasted baingan, and karela.
• Pomegranates, chikoos, bananas and strawberries are ideal for the monsoon. Eat a few dates every day for your iron and energy requirements.
• Non-vegetarians should go in for lighter meat preparations like soups and stews rather than heavy curries.
• Go for astringent, mildly bitter and mildly pungent foods this season.
• Drink only boiled and filtered water.
• Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Dehydration is a possibility during the monsoon too.
• Avoid eating food straight out of the fridge. Fresh foods are the best, but if you like to store cooked food in the fridge, heat it gradually and thoroughly before eating.
Here are some tips and recipes for a disease-free monsoon. Drink a glass of warm water mixed with a teaspoon of honey on an empty stomach. This flushes out accumulated toxins. Freshly prepared radish juice is the best remedy for cold. A pinch each of rootstock pipli and rock salt mixed in warm water reduces cough. The following recipes can be used as home remedies for the digestive disorders of the monsoon.
Comfort gruel (to heal colic pain/stomach upset)
Rice – 1/2 cup
Water – 4 cups
Pipli – 2 or 3
Ginger powder – 1/2 tsp
Rock salt – a pinch
Cook rice with recommended quantity of water with freshly ground ginger powder or crushed ginger and salt. Powder pipli, and fry it in a spoon of cow’s ghee, and add it to gruel. Consume this when it is hot. This is very light to digest, and relieves colic pain.
Rice -1/2 cup
Water – 4 cups
Ginger paste – 1/2 spoon
Salt to taste
Jeera powder -1/2 tsp
Pomegranate juice: ½ cup
Cook rice with the recommended quantity of water, with ginger paste, jeera powder and salt. Add pomegranate juice and honey when the gruel is warm. This gruel rehydrates the body and supplies energy. It soothes inflamed walls of the intestine, and controls bowel movements.
Healing rice (is anti-flatulent)
Rice – ½ cup
Water – 4 cups
Haritaki powder-1/2 spoon
Roots of pipli or long pepper-2 or 3
Ginger paste -1/2 spoon
Salt to taste
Asafoetida powder-1/2 pinch
Cook rice, haritaki powder, roots of pipli and water together. Add salt to it. Consume this when it is warm. This relieves flatulence, and regularises bowel movements.
These precautions, coupled with good care, will help you enjoy the beauty of the season without being bogged down by the health hazards that occur so commonly during this period. Have a healthy and safe monsoon.
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