Diet diary: To fight monsoon diseases, boost your immune system

Herbs and spices help prevent these conditions.

Written by Ishi Khosla | Published:October 1, 2016 12:51 am
immunity boost, immuntiy boost diet, monsoon diseases, monsoon diseases prevention, flu prevention, viral fevers, dengue, chikungunya, healthy diet Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your meals. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) flourish mostly in impoverished, developing nations of the world, posing a massive economic and health burden.

With weather changes, illnesses such as flu, viral fevers, and bacterial infections are on the rise. The most common NTDs — dengue and chikungunya — have plagued Delhi.

While we can’t do much about the rains, we can certainly improve our digestion and strengthen our immune system. The simplest way to boost immunity is by following a good diet, doing plenty of exercise, getting adequate rest, and managing stress levels.

A well-balanced and nutritious diet — comprising a variety of foods, adequate calories, healthy grains, pulses, fresh and green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy, fatty fish and healthy fats — is crucial for good immune function.

Special nutrients which enhance immunity include proteins, vitamins A (beta carotene), B, B6, pantothenic acid, vitamins C, D, E, and minerals including selenium, zinc, folic acid, iron, copper and magnesium.

Seeking benefits from natural herbs and spices is a growing trend and presents an interesting avenue for the prevention and treatment of these conditions. A number of plant extracts, isolated compounds, essential oils and seaweeds have shown promising anti-viral, larvicidal and insecticidal activity against some mosquito vectors.

Good digestion is key to a healthy immune system. Both probiotics and prebiotics support good digestion and must be part of a healthy diet.

Patients suffering from such illnesses must have plenty of fluids, including coconut water, lemon water, vegetable juices and soups.

Dietary guidelines for dengue and chikungunya patients:
*Stick to a light, low-fat and easily digestible diet
*Have frequent but small meals
*Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your meals
*Include plenty of liquids like soups, broths, hot water, tea, ginger and tulsi tea.
*Avoid processed foods, bakery products and food made out of refined flour.
*Include anti-inflammatory foods like ginger, turmeric, honey, garlic cloves, haldi boiled in milk
*Seek timely medical advice.

Author is a clinical nutritionist and founder of and Whole Foods India.