We’re in the peak of the monsoon season, and so are cases of common cold, flu, stomach infection, and viral fever. Although the rainy season gives us respite from the scorching summer heat, it does pose certain health risks. Hence, we need to be careful with what we eat and drink.
According to Ayurveda, an ancient Indian science, to avoid these diseases, you must modify your lifestyle for varsha ritu (monsoon in Ayurveda that starts mid-July and ends mid-September), consume the right herbal formulations under an expert’s guidance, and follow a diet rich in seasonal foods. During this season, vata is aggravated, pitta is accumulated and kapha is controlled or pacified.
Dr Smita Naram, co-founder, Ayushakti, explains, “Monsoon may cause an imbalance in your doshas – vata, pitta, and kapha (three fundamental energies or elements governing the functions of your body on the physical and emotional level). Pitta signifies the digestive fire in the human body, which gets affected during this season and leads to a weak digestive system and serves as the basis for various ailments such as joint pain, muscular pain, acidity, loss of appetite, body ache gas trouble, indigestion, and most commonly, cold and cough.”
Dr Naram and Dr Ankit Aggarwal, Ayurveda health coach and founder, Tulsi Ayurveda, share foods and habits that are beneficial to your body during the monsoon season for building immunity and keeping you fit, and things that must be avoided.
What to eat during monsoon
1) Warm vegetable soups with spices
Seek comfort in warm vegetable soups spiced up with ginger, garlic, and pepper during the rainy season. This is extra beneficial for people suffering from cold and cough as it may help expel the mucus and relieve nasal and chest congestion. Incorporate cooked vegetables in your diet, including pumpkin, ivy gourd, spinach, bottle gourd, ridge gourd, sweet corn, carrots, beetroot, and snake gourd.
2) Spice things up!
Spices like turmeric, ginger and black pepper boast of antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting properties, so it’s important to spice up your daily home-cooked meals with these ingredients.
3) Seasonal fruits
Jamun, plum, peaches, pomegranates, pears and other fruits that are in season must be included in your diet since they are high in nutrients such as fibre, vitamin A, C, and antioxidants.
4) Bring on the pulses and grains
Go for pulses and grains like green gram, tuvar dal, and masoor dal because they are easy to digest and are nourishing for your body. For the full value from these foods, pair them up with grains like rice, oat, millets, and amaranth – basically, everything except wheat and wheat-based foods.
5) Snack on dry fruits
Walnuts, almonds, dates, and many other dry fruits can be your snack-time favourites when it’s pouring outside. They are rich sources of energy, loaded with antioxidants and may boost your immune system.
6) Eat astringent, mildly bitter and pungent foods
Ayurveda suggests you include astringent food items in your monsoon diet because they are cooling in nature and are good for boosting immunity. A few examples of such foods are unripe papaya, pomegranate, legumes, ginger, and green beans.
What to avoid during monsoon
1) Avoid eating fish and seafood
Monsoon is the breeding season for fish and several other aquatic animals, so it is not sustainable to eat during this period. Plus, the risk of waterborne diseases and diarrhoea is high during the rainy season and these foods could be the carriers of illnesses.
2) Keep aerated drinks and sour foods away
These food/drink items may cause indigestion specifically during the monsoons, and hence are suggested to avoid.
3) Say no to naps during the day
Excessive sleeping or sleeping during the day, which disturbs your circadian rhythm, must be avoided, especially during this season, because it slows down your metabolism and hampers digestion.
Note: These dos and don’ts are generic. Please consult an Ayurvedic doctor to find out which body type you are – vata, pitta or kapha – and get pointed suggestions. Abrupt changes in diet and lifestyle could lead to health problems.