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A Raincoat For Your Stomach

With the monsoon finally gracing us with its pompous presence, coffee mugs and frying pans are bound to be put to greater use. However, as we flock to nearby markets to grab our umbrellas, we need to be careful about the things we eat, for monsoon is the season for waterborne diseases. So this week, we look into the things one needs to avoid in order to enjoy the rains.

There are several things which can upset the stomach in monsoon, but dieticians have earmarked a few things notorious for causing severe diseases. It might not be possible to avoid them at all times, but one can certainly take some precautions. Here is a list of a few things to avoid and be careful about:

Leafy vegetables: Despite their undisputed importance for health, leafy vegetables are responsible for a substantial number of ailments. Dampness, dirt and mud present in the vegetable leaves make these veggies susceptible to many germs, leading to a plethora of stomach infections. It is very important to wash such vegetables thoroughly before cooking and consuming them.
Roadside juices: Roadside juices are extremely unhealthy, even in seasons other than monsoon. One never knows what kind of fruit is being used to prepare the juice. Besides, fruit is often left cut for hours and is susceptible to germs and bacteria, which thrive best in damp conditions, like monsoon. Likewise, it is important to avoid fruit salads sold on the road. Preparing juices and salads at home using fresh fruits and vegetables is a much healthier option.
Sea food: Monsoon is the breeding season for fish and prawns, so it is better to avoid seafood during monsoon. In fact, a thumb rule says that if the name of the month doesn’t have the letter ‘R’ in it, then one must avoid sea food. This means that one should stay off sea food in the months of May, June, July and August. If it is essential to eat fish, one should choose fresh fish.
Chaat: Who doesn’t love these? But alas, chaats are responsible for more stomach upsets during the monsoon than any other food product. It is highly probable that the chaat one consumes has been made using contaminated water, leading to severe infections. The accompanying chutney is just as bad. These infections can lead to diseases like diarrhoea or jaundice. For aficionados of the same, preparing chaats at home using safe water and ingredients is the safest bet.
Water: Needless to say, water is the main carrier of most monsoon based infections and diseases. Contaminated water is overflowing the streets and it is not hard for it to combine with drinking water. One must consume boiled/filtered water at all times. While on the move, it is imperative to carry potable water from home. This becomes all the more important if you have children with you.
Oily food: Dieticians say that owing to the humidity, the body’s digestion is at its lowest. To counter this, one needs to avoid heavy and oily food, else one’s stomach might get upset. Also, foods such as barley, brown rice and oats are the stomach’s best friends during the monsoon season. Adding ta dash of garlic to soups, stir fries and curries goes a long way in helping build the body’s immunity.
Dairy products: The intake of dairy products should be restricted, as they have maximum propensity to get infected by germs. Milk, said to be a complete diet, is not advised during the monsoon season. It can be substituted with curd to have adequate amount of calcium.
Spicy food: For people affected by skin allergies during monsoon, it is recommended to stay away from spicy food, since it stimulates circulation and raises body temperature, leading to skin irritation, allergies and diseases.

Apart from these dietary restrictions, there are several precautions one can take to ensure good health during monsoon, such as:

Drink a bowl of hot vegetable soup or a cup of freshly brewed green tea as the temperature will give warmth and the ingredients will boast your immunity.
Exercise to sweat out the symptoms of cold or flu before it develops into a full-fledged fever as exercise makes our immunity stronger by stimulating the blood flow.
Avoid smoking as much as you can as smoking weakens our immunity and also the respiratory system making us more prone to catch common cold and flu.
Avoid consuming alcohol as it also weakens our immunity.
Avoid touching your face after touching any surface or after getting wet as the hands may harbour microbes which may get entry in to the body through facial route.
Remember to wash your hands, feet and face every time you go outside and before consuming any food as it will minimize the chances of getting infected.
Keep antiseptic liquids handy and use for washing off mud or dirt that usually gets splashed around.
Drink herbal teas, especially those with antibacterial properties such as holy basil leaves, ginger, pepper and honey.

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There are several diseases which are rampant during monsoon, and precaution is our best defence against them. While avoiding certain food items is obligatory, we need to ensure that this does not lead to a deficiency of vitamins and minerals, which would be counter-productive for our health.A balanced diet is imperative and one can easily exercise the cautious steps mentioned above.

One needs to be ever-careful and consult the doctor if things go out of hand. Monsoon is a wonderful season, filled with joy and brings in much needed respite from summer. Enjoying it is in our hands and we can only do so by using the ‘raincoat’ of precaution against it

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cloudchowk is a healthcare software company based out of Delhi. Its software help medical labs, clinics and patients share information and collaborate seamlessly.

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