With every season change, some of you could get the common flu, which can be taken care of with medication, home remedies and rest. But the COVID-19 outbreak and the variations in weather (hot mornings, windy afternoons, thunder, lightning and rain) have got everyone worried. What if the common flu or viral fever is not common?
If you are looking for remedies, virtual hangout spaces like WhatsApp and Facebook are flooded with information. But the remedies may or may not work as they do not always come from reliable sources. It is important to understand that medication must only be taken under expert supervision. That said, prevention is better than cure so why not strengthen the immune system! It is a long process, hence start now.
Vaidya Archana Halande, an ayurveda practitioner, says, “What a mother eats, drinks, thinks, experiences during her pregnancy — all this has an effect on the baby. Over generations, we have seen that our immunity level has decreased. We are certainly not as strong, when it comes to physical labour, as our forefathers were. The reasons could be many, mainly our lifestyle.”
To build strength and immunity, you have to make changes in your diet and sleep patterns. “You have to work towards holistic development, not for one specific disease. Immunity doesn’t mean strengthening only the respiratory system, as every organ has its own system and each has to be strengthened. Ayurveda has rules about how you should be spending your day — right from the time you wake up till you sleep and that includes your food, when to eat, what to eat, how much water to drink. Ideally, you should eat two healthy meals in a day and exercise in the morning,” says Halande.
What to eat
The Indian medical system and culinary pattern has developed taking into consideration the geography, topography and the climatic conditions of the country. India has six seasons and the diet in each season is different.
“Your diet has to be sattvik, nourishing homemade food, not fast food and fried stuff. Make liberal use of aromatics like turmeric, asafoetida in cooking food. Ginger, jaggery and tulsi should be included in your diet during the rainy season,” says Dr Sonali Khedkar, BHMS, CGO, Accupressure and Sujok therapist.
During monsoon, the general body strength of a person is weak and the digestive system is slow. So, you must take food which is light but wholesome. “Eat warm food like soups, avoid uncooked food like salads,” points out Halande.
“You can make soups from vegetables, beetroot and tomato. These ingredients will improve your general health and Hb levels. Good Hb levels will strengthen immunity. Also, get your vitamin A and vitamin C through oranges, sweet lime,” advises Dr Amitabh Chatterjee, homeopathic consultant and family physician.
When it comes to making the soups, Dr Chatterjee says, “Don’t cook the beetroot, tomatoes in pressure cooker, but steam them in a vessel. In pressure cooker, due to compression, vitamins and nutrients burst and there is a loss of nutrients. The water that is released while steaming is nutritious, drink it. And blend the pulp in a mixer and get a dalia-like consistency. Consume that. Don’t throw either the water or the pulp. But, don’t eat the pulp and drink the water at the same time. Maybe you can drink the water in the morning and the pulp at night.”
You also need to avoid certain foods during this season. “Most people like eating curds but it is to be avoided during nights and especially during the rains. Also no packaged juices,” adds Vaidya Halande. “Instead sip on warm water throughout the day,” says Dr Khedkar.
You should be making good use of ginger, tulsi, pepper and even turmeric this season. “A decoction of ginger and tulsi leaves will give you the antioxidants from tulsi and help boost immunity,” says Chatterjee.
Or make a juice with lemon, pepper and turmeric, suggests Khedkar. “In a glass of warm water, squeeze half a lemon juice. Add a pinch of pepper powder, ½ tsp turmeric powder. Curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric, gets activated only with pepper. To this, you can add grated ginger. This is the first thing you should drink after waking up in the morning,” she says.
Ashwagandha also boosts immunity. “Add Ashwagandha powder to water, instead of milk as it aggravates its smell. It gets diluted in water, so the smell is not as overpowering. You should add one tsp of powder to water and drink it one gulp. During monsoon, you might feel cold. Ashwagandha keeps your body warm and helps in increasing metabolism. If your metabolism is good, then you won’t catch cold or cough. It also helps in increasing your muscle mass and vitality. The skin gets lustrous, hairfall reduces, health of eyes improves, and so does your reproductive system. Besides, it also boosts calcium in your body,” says Chatterjee.
Decoctions you can make at home
Dr Khedkar recommends making a decoction using black jaggery and spices, which you should drink throughout the day:
In 1 litre of water, add black jaggery, grated ginger, tulsi leaves (10-12), cardamom sticks (4-5), peppercorn (4-5) and fenugreek seeds (7-8).
Boil and reduce it to half a litre drink. Fill it in the thermos and sip on it throughout the day. Jaggery is a natural expectorant and removes all secretions from the lungs. Children and adults can benefit from it
A decoction that is effective in curing fever is made from Parijatak leaves. Halande shares the process:
In four cups of water, add leaves of Paraijatak (washed, 5-6), dhania (1 tsp), cumin (1 tsp), cloves (1), cardamom stick (1 small), lemon grass (1-2), ginger (1 small piece), bay leaf or tamalpatra (1).
Boil the decoction and reduce it to half a cup brew.
Instead of masala tea, drink this brew. Parijatak cures fever. Also, consume dry ginger powder. Dhania and cumin reduce kaffa and improve digestive system. Last but not the least, do not sleep during daytime.