Beat the heat with these ...
With the average temperature rising across the country and the sun beating down on us, we need to deal with summer bummers. Heat strokes and dehydration are common enough and reaching out for a quick roadside cooler or juice is tempting but can make us vulnerable to stomach bugs and diarrhoea.
However, summer isn't all bad. Especially when you think of the joys of the swimming pool and lazy summer afternoons with fresh pickings of seasonal delicacies. From mint to wood apple, stock your kitchen this summer with healthy grocery items and breeze through the season! Here are a few ideas for summer coolers that are delicious and healthy.
Consume this fibrous fruit for its versatile goodness and great taste, Dr Suja Issac, a nutritionist and co-founder of SOUKYA advises. Commonly known as bael in Hindi, it is rich in fibre, calcium and vitamins A and B.
Wood apple can be eaten fresh or sun-dried, or made into marmalade. Its pulp is used to make sherbet, which is excellent for digestion. The ripe pulp is good for the heart and brain, and is also used as a laxative. It is a quick-fix remedy for intestinal worms, so a couple of spoonfuls of ripe fruit for kids is a good idea. The raw fruit is used to treat infectious diarrhoea because of its anti-viral activity against certain pathogens.
Tannin in wood apple helps heal gastric and intestinal ulcers. Abundant in antioxidants and flavonoids; its phenolic compounds lend it anti-inflammatory properties. For best results, dilute with water.
A powerhouse of phytonutrients and antibacterial properties, mint is more than a garnish. According to Dr Issac Mathai, an alternative medicine expert and the founder of the holistic health centre SOUKYA, mint leaves can be chewed raw or steeped in tea. Inhaling mint extract calms nerves as well as relieves headache-related nausea. Steam inhalation with mint helps decongest the sinuses and respiratory passages. Plus, smoke from dried mint leaves is an effective insecticide.
Often used in pain balms, its menthol content cools and numbs painful areas. Menthol also relieves abdominal cramps. It is good for digestion and acidity as it has a soothing effect on the mucosal linings.
Mint's anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties make it effective in controlling bad breath--just chew a few mint leaves once or twice a day. When ground to a paste, mint is effective in treating acne and acts as a soothing balm for dry and itchy skin.
Commonly known as ispaghula, psyllium husk is a soluble fibre popular for its gentle laxative and bulk-forming properties. It is derived from the seeds of Plantago ovata, a herb that's native to India.
It is beneficial for a range of digestive issues like constipation, diarrhoea and irritable bowel syndrome. Just add a spoonful to yogurt or cereal for trouble-free digestion. Its ability to retain water helps soften stool and its bulk-forming property helps ease an upset stomach. It also binds to fat and helps eliminate bile acids from the body.
Psyllium husk helps regulate high cholesterol, maintains healthy blood sugar levels and improves triglyceride levels in the body.
Triphala, as the Sanskrit name indicates, is an Ayurvedic herbal formula with equal quantities of three fruits--amla (Indian gooseberry), haritaki (Terminalia chebula) and bibhitaki (Terminalia bellerica). Dr Salila Tewari, a naturopath and yoga expert and founder-chairperson of the Nature Cure and Yog Foundation, Uttaranachal, elaborates.
Available in powder, tablet and juice form, triphala purifies the system by promoting better bowel movement. It treats constipation--a condition that begets health issues like sluggish liver, skin diseases, depression and diminished energy. Triphala's laxative properties are not habit forming.
Gooseberry is vitamin C-rich and supports the natural functions of the liver. Bibhitaki supports the respiratory system, offers relief from asthma and is known to prevent premature greying and hair loss. The third herb, haritaki, is prized for its cleansing properties. It removes toxins and helps maintain a healthy weight. The combined effect of these potent fruits enables smooth functioning of the digestive system and fights colds and allergies by making the immune system stronger.
Ginger is the world's most commonly consumed natural condiment. It has at least 14 bioactive compounds like gingerol and shogaol that give it a range of anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Add it to tea or pulverize it into fresh fruit juice or a smoothie--ginger is a stimulating herb that relieves flatulence, strengthens the digestive system and stimulates glandular secretions. Dry ginger is said to be good for chronic bronchitis. It is widely used in Ayurveda to treat digestive complaints, morning sickness, jaundice, piles, colds and coughs, asthma, bronchitis and whooping cough.
Ginger is well known for its anti-cancerous properties. The root is a potent source of antioxidants. It also has a calming effect on inflamed joints and muscles. Ginger is packed with B vitamins like B6 and riboflavin apart from magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.
ADAPTED FROM PREVENTION INDIA. JUNE 2014, JULY 2014, SEPTEMBER 2014, JANUARY 2015 AND SEPTEMBER 2015 LIVING MEDIA INDIA LIMITED