By Shadan Muneer
They say winter is not a season but a celebration in India. The season heralds celebrations, festivals and weddings galore. While winters do encompass happiness, there is sometimes harshness in equal measures. The charm of chilly weather is often diluted with the onslaught of seasonal ailments. People with bronchial allergies, children and the elderly suffer the harshness of winters and are susceptible to seasonal infections. This year, especially with COVID-19 still devastating the lives of millions around the globe, it is very important to take necessary precautions so as to ensure that we stay healthy and safe.
Experts from various fields are concerned that the COVID-19 cases may spike sharply in the coming winter months.
It is very essential to build our immunity to ward off infections. Although age old remedies have proven to be beneficial in preventing as well as curing the seasonal maladies, the spread of the deadly Coronavirus this winter makes it imperative to embrace effective measure to stay hale and hearty. We spoke to the health experts in the city to help you prepare for winters and also suggest winter diet that will give massive boost to your immunity and aid in keeping infections at bay.
All is well with Ayurveda
The ancient health care system that originated in India and spread across the globe truly holds its own forte amidst modern medicines. Ayurvedic treatments and solutions are scientifically designed to increase immunity.
Dr. Deepthi Niranjan, Head of the Department at Indus Valley Ayurvedic Centre, says: “With winter setting in amidst the pandemic, it is essential to keep two things in mind — one is Agni balancing which means keep an eye on the digestive tract and the other is immune boosting. Opting for easily digestible foods (which varies from person to person) works wonders in enhancing immunity as a bad digestive tract can cause accumulation of toxins in the system which will lead to health ailments.”
She recommends that the foods that stimulate immunity are fresh home cooked meals. She further adds, “Ayurveda recommends having a nutritious and wholesome meals which must include six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent) with two tablespoons of cow’s ghee in your daily diet as it helps in digestive balancing, boosting immunity and also keeps the body warmer naturally. Consume vegetables with antioxidants along with a lot of juicy fruits. Herbs and spices in your daily diet can boost your immunity. Oil pulling, nasal therapies and breathing exercises will also be beneficial during winters.”
More nutrition leads to enhanced protection
Dr. Asna Urooj, Chairperson Food Science and Nutrition, University of Mysore (UoM), quips: “Good nutrition is like a medicine for our body, balance of Vitamins A, C, D, E, along with minerals like Zinc, Magnesium and Selenium are essential to support your immune system which can help in warding off seasonal infections.
Our water consumption tends to go down with the onset of winter which takes a toll on your immune system and it is necessary to keep yourself well hydrated. Ensure that you drink warm water or water infused with mint, ginger, pomegranate, clove or cinnamon. Vegetable soups with ginger, mint, a pinch of pepper adds to immunity boosting.”
She further advices “black cumin or kalonji is effective against Bronchitis and several types of bacterial infections and also helps in reducing inflammation, green tea contains powerful antioxidants and minerals. And it is better to avoid refrigerated foods and beverages, high fat foods and refined carbohydrates which load the system with unnecessary calories and it is always safe to stick to familiar, warm and freshly cooked food.”
Prevention is better than cure
Dr. B.S. Jayaraj, leading pulmonologist and Head of the Department, JSS Hospital, points out that “there is a possibility that the virus may become stronger during the winters and we may anticipate the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases as well as several other viral infections from the family of Coronavirus. Adapting to healthy lifestyle will act like a weapon against infections; it is essential to follow all the safety precautions and hygiene protocols to stay healthy. People with a history of respiratory ailments must be extra cautious; they must identify and avoid the food allergens that may trigger breathing problems. Balanced diet and intake of Vitamin D are all essential to fight the infections.”
He further adds, “people who have recovered from COVID-19 need to be vigilant and go for regular follow ups as post COVID-19 sequel needs a lot of attention. Physiotherapy, rehabilitation, yoga therapy, lifestyle changes need to be adopted.
Consume immunity enhancing food
According to Anjum Fatima, Senior Clinical Dietician at Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, “there is no denying to the fact that winters call for some delightful indulgence as one tends to feel hungrier than usual but one has to keep in mind the ill-effects of unhealthy eating especially in times of Corona. To prevent falling ill during this season, we need to carefully choose what we feed our body to make the immune system stronger. It is advised to consume healthy foods which are rich in nutrients to nourish the immunity level. Ensure good supply fish, eggs, spinach, mushrooms, cabbage, sweet potatoes and other green leafy vegetables along with nuts and seeds which are rich in Zinc, Selenium and Vitamins which improve the resistance capacity.”
She further advices, “add ample Vitamin C eatables like citrus fruits, papayas and pineapples to your diet. Children’s diet should also be handled well giving them appetizing foods such as fruit salad and vegetable salad topped with cream and honey is recommended. Junk food must be strictly avoided.”
Our Health experts also have valuable pointers on diet to build your immunity stronger this winter .
Balance the Vitamins intake
Red and orange fruits and vegetables, sweet potato green leafy vegetables, bell peppers and papaya are rich sources of Vitamin A. Citrus fruits, papaya, strawberries and pineapple are good sources of Vitamin C. Flax seeds, almonds peanuts are also good sources of Vitamins.
Soak in the warm Sun
Increase the intake of Vitamin D by soaking in the Sun, also add eggs to your diet to derive Vitamin D which plays a vital part in strengthening bones and boosting immunity.
Beat it with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory foods
Turmeric, ginger and garlic have antibacterial properties. Ginger is used extensively for protection against cold and cough and other respiratory tract infections; It also treats sore throat along with a spoonful of honey. Garlic on the other hand helps fight viruses from within and turmeric is proven to boost immune cell activity, enhance antibody responses as it is also loaded with a whole lot of other benefits.
Spice up your diet
Spices such as black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and ginger enhance immunity level. Black pepper helps in fighting cold and wonder herbs such as tulsi and neem can destroy viruses and boost immunity in winters. Add ghee to your food along with carrot, radish, garlic and dry fruits to make your body feel warmer naturally. Whole grains such as maize, bajra, ragi, millets and yogurt, lentils and pomegranate are other must haves in winter.
Sleep to safety
Along with the right food intake, experts also suggest us to follow a proper exercise regime and sleep cycle. Exercises help to deliver blood to all the organs more efficiently and getting 7-8 hours of sleep is crucial for our body to rest, heal and repair along with increasing the body’s ability to fight infections. De-stress and keep yourself physically fit by exercising or practicing yoga and meditation.
Winter apart from signalling the arrival of New Year is hard to be ignored in spite of harshness in weather condition. Stay warm stay safe.