With the rains come the chills, aches, pains and fevers. The monsoon takes its toll of lives as people are felled by epidemics. Each rainy season brings in fresh strains of viruses and medicine-resistant germs. The simple fever has now given way to the vicious strains of leptospirosis, Japanese Encephalitis, Dengue and Chikungunya.
As the cold sets in and the rain pounds down, it’s a special diet that folks turn to and this has been the pattern since those days of yore when people tried to stay warm and eat warm. After all, the right food plays a vital role in keeping illnesses at bay, whatever be the weather.
What to eat during the rainy season?
Cleanliness and hygiene are the keys to good health. Food has to be prepared in clean environs and the water should be germ-free. Avoid frozen food or food that's cold and left exposed for long hours. Go for only warm or hot stuff. Even the water used for rinsing rice and vegetables should be clear and safe. Personal hygiene too plays a vital role in tackling diseases head on.
Go on a diet rich in wheat and barley malt in addition to dining on age-old recipes like injicurry, rasam and sambar. Chena (elephant yam), chembu (colocasia), payar (green gram), thazhuthama (Boerhavia diffusa), thakara (cassia tora) and cheera (asparagus) are ideal monsoon edibles.
Snacks made with rice, wheat dishes and maize are excellent during the season. Food high in salt content is to be avoided to keep blood pressure under control.
Over eating is to be curbed at any cost
The cold turns on the pangs of hunger leaving you craving for more and more. This induces over eating as well as binge eating, tendencies that are to be avoided at any cost. It’s the time for moderation and food fried and soaked in oil is to be given a definite go-by.
Keep yourself hydrated
The need for hydration cannot be over emphasized. As the chill sets in, the desire for water intake turns to a never-before low. However cold the weather, it’s a must to drink the recommended quantity of water to keep the body hydrated. The normal intake is to have 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. Stay safe with boiled and cooled water. Allow the water to boil for about 5 to 8 minutes. Once the water is boiled, it’s better to store it in the same vessel. Water boiled with dry ginger and coriander seeds are highly recommended health drinks for the season.
Fruit juices are healthy vitamin supplements during the rains. Avoid cold drinks and ice cubes. The juices are to be downed the minute they are readied. Never leave them in the fridge or keep them out for long. Cool drinks and artificially made fizzy drinks and juices are a no-no. A glass of warm milk is recommended for those who are healthy enough to stomach it.
That a peg or two is the best warm-up solution for monsoon chills is but a misconception and a temporary bye to drinks like lassi should be ideal in keeping the cold at bay. This is to keep the body free of all traces of water retention.
Too many cups too bad
Too many cups of coffee and tea seldom help. The cups will not keep the cold away or help build up resistance. A cuppa too many will force the body to drain out the excess water as urine thereby weakening the system and allowing fatigue to set in. However, coffee brewed with coriander seeds, dry ginger and pepper are health-boosters.
Vegetables and kanji
The rainy season is when one ought to turn to vegetables. Fruits, leaves and veggies should be on every day’s menu. Chappathi and wheat dosas are the best dinner dishes.
Bring back the good old kanji. The rice gruel was the original soup of Keralites. There’s nothing like a bowl of hot kanji with a side dish of green gram and chammanthi to spice it up.