Summer brings in its trail several kinds of ailments. Therefore, when planning your meals, you must focus on not only staying adequately hydrated, but also that the food you eat boosts your immunity. Immunity is your body’s ability to fight infections, which you should supplement naturally. In the pandemic situation, impaired immunity can be a double whammy. Keep in mind that mother nature knows what is best for you. So, most seasonal fruits and vegetables provide you with exactly what you need the most in summer.
Mangoes are considered a superfood. Essentially summer fruits, mangoes contain as many as 20 minerals and vitamins which your body needs to stay healthy. Whether you eat them ripe or as green mangoes, the antioxidants in them help in eliminating toxins from your body. Eat them raw, sliced, pulped, added to salads, smoothies, or any way you like. Make chutney out of the green mangoes, or use the pulp of the ripe mango to make desserts like ice creams, puddings, or muffins. However, don’t have too many at one go, or drink water immediately after eating a mango to prevent bloating or plain indigestion.
You should not limit your diet to staples and thick curries. Add colour by way of fresh salads which have greens, yellows, and reds like lettuce, grapes, guavas, carrots, papayas, mangoes, pineapples, capsicum, especially yellow and red bell peppers, watermelons, grapefruit, and tomatoes. If you prefer to keep fruits and vegetables separate, then you might want to have a fruit salad as an evening snack, or as your elevenses. It will fill you up, rehydrate you, and give you the amount of vitamins, minerals, and fibres required to boost your immunity. Summer fruits are packed with Vitamins A, B6, and C, and potassium which boost your immunity, and enable your body to easily ward off summer illnesses like the common cough and cold, or allergies.
Pineapples are plentiful in the summer months, and are packed with nutrients, especially Vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants which have an anti-inflammatory property. Adding a few slices of pineapples to salads, shakes, smoothies, and desserts makes for healthy skin, nails, and hair. It also helps you to recover from serious illness or surgery faster, apart from boosting your immunity. If your diet is high in protein, especially animal protein, it makes sense to add some pineapple as an accompaniment to help in digesting it better. Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain which aid breaking down of proteins.
Summers and watermelons are almost synonymous. Dice it, juice it, or freeze it to make a sorbet; it refreshes and rehydrates you like no other fruit, especially since it has plenty of electrolytes. The nutritional content makes it a superfood as it is loaded with iron, Vitamins, trace elements, antioxidants to fight free radicals, fructose, and fibre to cleanse the system. Citrulline in watermelon helps to dilate blood vessels which lowers blood pressure as blood circulation improves. Add it to your smoothies, desserts, shakes, and fruit custard.
Few people realize that guavas are also a superfood, which protect you from infections as they have antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. However, a measure of caution is advisable as guavas are not only loaded with potassium, Vitamin C, fibre, and antioxidants, but with fructose too which indicates that diabetics should have smaller portions. Eat the guavas with the rind which contains more Vitamin C than a clementine or mandarin. Typically, people eat them raw or as chaat. If the seeds of the guava are also eaten, then it can serve as a laxative. However, ripe guavas are made into jam, jelly, and marmalade, which are excellent bread spreads. As a low potassium fruit, guava is a safe fruit for those who have kidney damage.
Your immune system needs Vitamin C to support its cellular functions, particularly the production of antibodies. It also enhances the function of phagocytes which kill pathogens. You must take Vitamin C daily via fruits like mangoes, especially green mangoes (which can provide as much as 50 percent of your daily requirement), grapefruit, lemons, guavas, grapes, pineapples; and vegetables like cowpea asparagus bean (barbati), also called snake beans, and string beans; bottle gourd (louki), which is also an excellent way to rehydrate; yellow squash; pointed gourd (parwal); sweet potatoes (which are rich in antioxidants too), and bitter gourd (karela) to name a few. All these fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients ― diverse vitamins, minerals, and trace elements ― which your body needs to be healthy. Just keep in mind that since your body cannot store or make Vitamin C, it is vital that you take it in some form daily.
Bananas and yogurt are two excellent ways of protecting your digestive health. Bananas help in preventing cramps as they are rich in potassium; Vitamin B6, which is essential for building immunity; fibres, which lead to clear bowel movement; and carbohydrates which are easily broken down and assimilated by the body. Further, they contain inulin which encourages the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Curds or yogurt tend to be part of typical Indian meals, either as a standalone item, or as part of a raita (curd based raw salad). Many recipes require you to add curds to the gravy. Bananas have prebiotic which not only helps keep your weight under control, but stabilizes blood sugar level also as it contains relatively little fructose. Yogurt is a natural probiotic which assures you fine gut health. More than in any other season, these two should be part of your daily diet in summer.
Wood apples (bael) have incredible health benefits which most people are unaware of. When the pulp of the ripe fruits is strained through a thick sieve, and blended with curds, the resultant smoothie is as nutritious as it is cooling. You may sweeten it with some crystallized sugar or grated jaggery for maximum health benefits. Wood apples are not only excellent for gut health as the fibres cleanse the innards quite thoroughly; it reduces cholesterol levels in the blood, and aids diabetes management. Since it purifies the blood, it gives you a glowing skin, and prevents skin infections, and eruptions. Since it is known to cool the body and mind, regular intake of wood apples protects you from sun stroke and heat exhaustion. The anti-bacterial properties of wood apples protect you from infections.
Takeaway: Eating and drinking right is vital, but getting sufficient rest is equally important to boost your immunity. Sleep at regular hours. Even a nap for half an hour or full hour goes a long way.