Humans, like every other organism, have been blessed with an Immune System, which offers the much-needed Immunity to help us survive and thrive, even in unfavorable conditions. Simply put, immunity offers resistance to harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses that may result in various diseases and infections.
While immunity is paramount to the day-to-day function of the human body, it takes even more precedence during the monsoons. Let us understand the reason behind this from the renowned Nutritionist Ankita Vaidya!
As per Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of medicine – Vatta Dosha (the element of Air), accumulates in the body during the dry and dehydrating summers, which aggravates during the monsoon resulting in a weakened digestive system. Moreover, the gasses released from the earth as a result of rainfall, and the overall acidic atmospheric condition causes a rise in the body’s Pitta Dosha (the element of Fire). This imbalance of the Vatta and Pitta results in lower immunity, making us more susceptible to infections.
Strengthening Immunity through Seasonal Eating
Thankfully for us, we have a plethora of easily available ingredients in our kitchens that can help us raise and maintain our immunity levels even during monsoons. Let us take a quick look at some of the most promising food groups in this regard!
A vast majority of cereals, including wheat, rice, barley, maize, quinoa offer essential nutrients to the body such as amino acids, vitamins, fibres along with magnesium, zinc, and other minerals. All of these combined have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which ensure improved digestion and gut health! Not to mention, these are also in line with the crop cycle.
Lentils such as Urad Dal, Chana, Moong, Masoor, and Legumes such as Peanuts, Soy Beans, Peas, etc., are packed with proteins and easy to digest. These pulses are also loaded with magnesium, folate, and polyphenols among other nutrients that further their antioxidant properties.
3. ROOTS AND TUBERS
In India, an astoundingly large chunk of the population observes multiple fasting days during the monsoon. This practice not only allows the body to detoxify, but also helps improve the body's metabolism and as a result, boosts immunity. During these fasts, people often depend on roots and tubers such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams and konfal for their nutrition. These roots prove to be a great source of resistant starch offering them the much-needed probiotic properties that help improve gut health.
Similarly, roots like onions and garlic carry allium compounds that ensure anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial properties all of which contribute to a stronger immune system.
4. FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Easily available seasonal fruits such as Jamun, Cherry, Litchi, Plum, Banana, and Papaya amongst others are all known for their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Vegetables found in abundance in this season such as Bottle Gourd, Bitter Gourd, Tinda, Parwal etc. are easy to digest and assist in improving gut health.
Having said that, you must avoid the consumption of green leafy vegetables and raw salads, during this season owing to the increased chances of infection carried through soil and contaminated water.
5. NUTS AND OILSEEDS
To ensure ample nutrition and omega 3 fatty acids in the body, you can always rely on enjoying a handful of nuts such as Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Pistachios, etc. are particularly known to reduce the Pitta Dosha in the body. Then again, oilseeds such as Soybean, Sunflower, Rapeseed, Peanuts, Flaxseeds etc. should also be a part of your diet during this time of the year.
Ghee has been one of the most recommended elements of a wholesome diet for more than one reason. To begin with, it works as a catalyst for the body’s healing, by ensuring quicker and more efficient action of medicinal herbs. Next, Ghee works wonders as a detoxifying agent. Besides, it assists easy digestion of the food, while ensuring the requisite balance of Pitta and Vatta Dosha in the body.
7. HERBS AND SPICES
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that herbs like Tulsi, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Fennel, Ashwagandha (Ginseng) are known for their incredible nutritional, medicinal and therapeutic properties. Hence, you must try and include them all in your diet, either as condiments in your food or in the form of a herbal tea or kadha.
Water is the main constituent of every living being, which is why it has been termed as ‘Jeevana’ or Life in Ayurveda. It is the quintessential medium for carrying all vital nutrients across the body, while also being a crucial aspect of proper digestion and improved metabolism. Hence, make sure to drink at least 15 glasses of lukewarm water during this season.
So, make sure to include all of these in your daily diet, and unveil the power of Balanced Nutrition. Before you know it, your gut and your immune system will be thanking you for this holistic treatment from within!
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Nutritionist (Masters in FOOD SCIENCE and DIETITICS )