Tips to stay healthy these rains

Welcome the rains, not the diseases they bring. To stay healthy, watch what you eat and drink

woman getting wet in rainIn the swelter heat of summers, rains are definitely a God-sent gift. But along with monsoon showers, come a surfeit of diseases like food poisoning, diarrhoea and cholera. Other diseases that make an appearance during this particular season include typhoid, dysentery, amoebiosis, hepatitis A and E and even polio. Individuals with low resistance, especially elderly and people with ailments like diabetes mellitus, lung problems, heart diseases or rheumatism, are more prone to infections. Thus, it becomes essential to pay extra care and attention to your health and eating habits during monsoons as your body and digestive system is susceptible to infections.

Take extra care

Diseases in the rainy season are mostly water-borne and hence you need to be particularly careful with the water you drink. Contamination of drinking water is rampant during rains and it naturally becomes imperative to drink filtered and clean water to ward off maladies. Rains inevitably mean a worsening of the quality of ground water, because of seepage, of garbage and other contaminants that get dissolved in the rain water. The use of suction pumps is another hazard because unless there is a really good water flow, the pumps often tend to suck in contaminants. Ideally, they should be used only for lifting water to the upper floors and not for boosting water supply per se.

You need to ensure that you do not get tempted by street vendors selling juices, golas and kulfis. Monsoon is the harbinger of breeding bacteria in food items and thus you should avoid eating outside food. Always go for packaged juices as they are safest. Eating salads from outside might also induce ingestion as germs thrive on vegetables that are not fresh and unwashed.

Fight back

With unconditional growth, India has tremendously progressed but still remains far away from maintaining and following a healthy lifestyle. The burden of ailments such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases stress and stroke not only amongst adults, but even children, has made people aware and conscious while selecting food items, keeping in mind hygiene and diet quotient. But the mirror has two sides.

Monsoon mantras

Drink enough water: Water keeps the body hydrated and cool and is no doubt the best option to quench thirst. During summer, body tends to lose water and sodium in the form of sweat. Hence it is important to drink plenty of water. But in the monsoon season, sweat does not evaporate quickly due to high humidity levels. This prevents the body from releasing heat in an efficient manner. Thus it is important to drink water, even when you are not thirsty, regardless of your activity levels. Make sure that you keep a bottle of water with you always, be it your work-station, kitchen or car. Make sure that you use filtered and safe water.

Avoid carbonated, caffeinated, and alcoholic drinks and beverages as they contain preservatives, colours and sugars. They are acidic in nature and act as diuretics resulting in loss of fluids through urine. Most soft drinks contain diluted phosphoric acid and their excess intake increases phosphorus levels in the blood, impairs the calcium-phosphorus ratio, leading to extraction of calcium from the bones. This calcium displacement from the bones makes them porous and brittle.Soft drinks also reduce mineral levels in the body to such an extent that enzymes are unable to function efficiently resulting in indigestion.

Eat fresh vegetables and fruits : Fresh vegetables and fruits are rich in water content, essential nutrients in the form of water soluble vitamins and minerals, natural sugar and fibre. Include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet such as salads and fresh juices. These veggies and fruits keep the body hydrated and aid in weight loss due to a good fibre content.

Amla [Indian gooseberry] and citrus fruits contain lots of vitamin C and are good for improving your immunity levels. Avoid greasy, fried foods and fatty meals have heated thermal effect on your body and make you sluggish.

Maintain good hygiene levels: Germs breed quickly during monsoons. With the adulteration and contamination rates already high, rains add to the troubles and paves way to the hospital.

Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cooking or eating raw. Avoid consuming pre-cut fruits and street foods. Eat well-cooked food.

The first few rain showers are heavenly. The feeling of respite from the heat usually surpasses the caution we should take during rains to stay away from the backlash of this beautiful weather. With just a few precautions, we can enjoy the pleasantness and charm of these most-awaited showers.

Handy tips

For general health

  • Get yourself vaccinated for monsoon-related ailments like hepatitis. Fever is a serious health problem during the monsoons and do not ignore it, if it lasts for more than two days. Remember, prevention is better than cure.
  • According to ayurveda, heavy exercising should be avoided in monsoon. The body needs only light walks and yoga during this time.
  • It is best to wear loose cotton clothes and use anti-fungal talcum powder in areas prone to fungal infections. Humidity and dampness results in fungal infections. Dampness can lead to skin problems and athlete's foot. So, take bath at least twice a day to keep infections at bay.
  • Use insect repellents, disinfectants to stay away from mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, and termites. You can also try house-hold options like dried neem leaves, camphor, or cloves.

For skin

  • Cleanse your skin daily using a soap-free cleanser. Use a gentle scrub once a day to wash off dead cells. Cleansing should be followed by the use of alcohol-free toner.
  • Use a sunscreen, even on a cloudy day, as harmful UV radiations have the ability to penetrate clouds.
  • Use a light lotion-based moisturiser to re-hydrate your skin and also brighten it up.

For hair

  • Monsoon brings in hair problems like stickiness and dandruff, which leads to hair fall. Wash your hair regularly with a mild shampoo, followed by a conditioner.
  • Avoid applying styling products as they can make your hair very greasy due to increased humidity.
  • Do not tie-up wet hair as it can cause hair breakage. Oiling once a week will help to maintain its shine and strength.

For feet

  • It is best to soak your feet in warm water, dry them and apply a moisturiser. For people prone to fungal infection, apply antifungal cream and powder prescribed by your dermatologist.
  • Keep your feet warm, if you work in air-conditioned places.
  • Do not forget to completely dry your feet to prevent fungal infections.
  • Diabetic patients need to take extra care of their feet during the monsoon season and should not walk barefoot since the soil almost turns into a reservoir for all types of germs during the rains.

— Team CW

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Anuja Agarwala
Anuja Agarwala is the President Indian Dietetic Association and nutritionist with the Department of Paediatrics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences [AIIMS], New Delhi. She is also the executive member of Indian Society of Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition.

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