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    Boost Immunity through a Balanced Diet over the next few months

    Published on October 13, 2021

    D Bhargavi, Chief Dietician, Specialist Hospital, Bengaluru

    With the onset of the monsoon season and the fast-approaching winter, common ailments such as dengue, common cold, influenza, food infections, water infections and cholera begin to surface. In order to keep yourself safe from these ailments, it is recommended to ensure that you consume the right kind of foods that strike the correct balance between nutrition and immunity. It is important to boost the immune system and stay physically active in order to maintain good health during this season. Some of the foods that have to be included in the daily diet include a lot of fluids, fruits, vegetables, nuts, spices and herbs.

    WHAT FOODS DO I INCLUDE IN MY DAILY DIET?

    Drinking potable water, warm soups and broths, freshly brewed green tea rehydrate the body and maintain the electrolyte balance. Fruits that are rich in vitamin A and vitamin C such as papaya, apple, pomegranates, cherries etc. also aid in maintaining a healthy gut system, thereby boosting immunity.  During the monsoons, gourds like ash gourd, snake gourd, okra, radish, cucumber, tomatoes and beans enhance gut health and immune activity. Spices like ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and pepper have high antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory characteristics. They help the body to defend itself from pathogens. Turmeric contains curcumin whose antioxidant action improves the functioning of the immune system. Therefore, adding it to your daily cooking during this weather has its manifold benefits. Nuts are loaded with healthy fats, minerals, proteins, vitamins and antioxidants. Consuming nuts during this season is a healthy practice.  Make a handful of almonds part of your daily diet to help ward off viral infections. It is of utmost importance that fruits and vegetables are thoroughly washed and vegetables are properly cooked before consumption. It would be a good practice to limit the consumption of seafood especially during the monsoon season due to the high risk of water contamination as fish and seafood could be vulnerable carriers of germs.

    Consuming millets can greatly support the immune system as they are rich in fibre, minerals and vitamins. Maintaining vitamin D levels during this season, especially when the sun tends to play hide and seek can be done by consuming eggs, cheese, milk and other fortified cereals. Oils such as olive, canola also help strengthen the immune system. Eating flax seeds everyday also keeps infections and autoimmune diseases at bay.  A tablespoon of honey a day works as an extremely good protection for the body against viruses, bacteria and fungi. It helps to soothe sore throats and improves digestion. It is important to restrict the consumption of simple sugar, as it lowers the ability of white blood cells to fight and destroy bacteria.

    WHAT FOODS DO I AVOID

    The temperature during the monsoon and winter seasons are perfect for bacterial and fungal growth, so it is best to avoid outside food, especially street food, no matter how much you long for it. Also, it would be wise not to indulge in fried foods and limit consumption to very small portions, as excess fried foods can lead to indigestion, diarrhoea and other stomach related issues. We need to remember that street vendors often re-use oil that is used to fry foods. Reused oil can be highly toxic. Juices from roadside shops could sometimes be made out of stale fruits or fruits that have been cut in advance which could be infected. It is advisable to consume only homemade fruit juices which are freshly made. Avoid mangoes during this season. Also avoid carbonated drinks, especially during the monsoon as these drinks have the tendency to reduce mineral levels in the body.

    IN CONCLUSION

    So, it is important to have a balanced diet which includes a healthy mix of fibre, protein with ample liquid and vitamin content. Along with this, we need to add regular exercise, meditation and yoga sessions to reduce or manage stress and adequate sleep which not only improves the immune system but also helps to enhance mood and energy levels.