Winters are here! Yeay!!! But…
Hold on, along with the cool and pleasant climate, also comes the seasonal flu. Hence, why not equip ourselves with the best self-defence this flu-season! Now, the foods that are available in winters not only play a big role in boosting immunity to fight off the cold and flu, but also protect other winter-woes like joint pain, dry and scaly skin, arthritic pain, hair fall and dandruff. Practically, whatever seasonal produce you eat builds good health and the charm shows on your face and body!
There are some foods that are available in India specifically during the winters, and others that are available throughout the year. Let us see the ones that are super healthy for warding off infections-
1. Amla (Indian Gooseberry)- These green little wonders are storehouses of Vitamin C, a nutrient that plays an important role in boosting immunity by improving the body’s white blood cell count, thus preventing flu and other viral infections! Also, since it is rich in Vitamin C, it also helps absorb calcium and iron from other foods, thus improving the strength of bones and blood count. A small tip: If you are not someone who likes sour foods, ferment amla in a mixture of water, rock salt, lemon juice and turmeric in a glass jar for 4-5 days and consume one every day!
2. Fresh Turmeric (Kacchi haldi)- Native to India and South East Asia, this rhizome needs no introduction! We Indians use it widely in our cooking, giving our food a golden-yellow touch! Thanks to its superb anti inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-microbial and anti-carcinogenic properties, it has bagged the title of a ‘superfood’, and is used for managing many chronic diseases and conditions! But, not just haldi powder, also the immune-boosting properties of the fresh turmeric root have been studied extensively and is prescribed in the diet by nutritionists to strengthen the immunity during winters and in flu-like conditions.
3. Ginger – Another rhizome, fresh ginger and its powdered form are used in the Indian kitchen for a spicy and pungent flavour and also for treating a variety of conditions like digestive issues, sore throat, inflammatory diseases etc. Ginger’s warm nature and the Gingerol content make it a ‘rockstar’ for boosting immunity during climatic changes. Just add a little piece to a hot cup of tea or mix a quarter spoon of powder in a glass of warm water to relieve nausea, headache, sore throat and cold! But remember, moderation is the key!
4. Green Garlic- The lush green ‘grass’ type of a vegetable, usually serves as a visual treat when you go shopping to any Indian vegetable market during the winters. That’s green garlic for you, bright green in color and a powerhouse of flavour, aroma and of course, immuno-boosting qualities! Include it in your stir-fries, soups, or curries or just make a simple crushed paste called as ‘Chutney’ or dips! Consume regularly to help the body resist viruses and other microbes.
5. Leafy veggies- Loaded with nutrients like folate, vitamin C and K, iron, calcium and dietary fiber, leafy veggies like amaranth (chaulai), spinach (palak), mustard greens (sarso), fenugreek leaves (methi), dill leaves (suva) and spring onions (hare pyaaz) are widely available throughout the year, but best relished in the cold weather when you need warmth in the body. Include in your soups or curries for getting a regular dose of these essential nutrients that will up your immune system!
6. Citrus fruits- Another source of Vitamin C, citrus fruits like oranges, sweet lime (mosambi) and lemon will make you resist various types of bacterial and viral infections.
7. Cow’s Ghee- Okay, so it’s a common misconception that ghee makes you fat! Cow’s pure ghee produces instant heat and energy in the body that helps you stay warm and active during winters, along with the goodness of Omega-3 and 9 fatty acids. Good for dry skin and frizzy hair too!
8. Jaggery- When consumed in limited amounts, jaggery or Gur helps generate heat in the body, and also helps to dilate the blood vessels and detoxify your lungs. Ditch the flu with a teaspoon of jaggery and ginger juice!
As Paul Theroux correctly quoted “Winter is a season of recovery and preparation”, let us build a good immune-system during this time of the year to prepare ourselves from within for yet another year of fight with the pandemic! After all, immunity is our self-defense!