Springing into Health: Beating the Seasonal Blues!!

As we move from the amla, carrot and green peas season to the season of mangoes, litchi, and jamuns, there can be various health challenges due to changing weather conditions, environmental factors, and lifestyle shifts. Let’s talk about some of the health challenges that might come knocking on your door during this seasonal shift and how you can beat them through good nutrition.

Dehydration: As the cool winter transitions into warmer spring weather, outdoor physical activity tends to increase and so does perspiration. However, the atmosphere also becomes drier, leading to more evaporation from the skin. This combination can contribute to dehydration, especially if adequate fluids are not consumed. It is crucial to drink plenty of water throughout the day and to avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, both of which can trigger or worsen dehydration. Additionally, incorporating homemade beverages like buttermilk, sattu drink, kanji, kokum, ber, khus sharbats, jaljeera, shikanji, and kairi panna can be a delicious and hydrating way to stay refreshed. Just be mindful to avoid overly sweetened options to maintain optimal hydration levels. You can find amazing recipes of high protein chaas and beet kanji on Cuddles Foundations The Kitchen page.

Allergies: Spring time also means allergy season. The increase in pollen levels from trees, grasses, and blooming flowers can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. Incorporating foods such as green tea and vitamin C rich foods like lemons, oranges, strawberries, capsicum and tomatoes that contain natural antihistamines can really help that runny nose. Q up your plate with red onions, leafy greens, apples and dark cherries for Quercetin, a flavonoid found in these that has been shown to reduce allergy symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, and itchy eyes by inhibiting the release of histamine. Adding anti-inflammatory spices ginger, garlic, turmeric and omega 3 rich foods like walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds can also help alleviate some allergy symptoms. Check out this refreshing recipe to help zoom ahead of allergies featuring the freshest ingredients of the season.

Strawberry Ginger Green Tea Lemonade

1 bag green tea
250 ml +50 ml water
3-4 fresh strawberries
1/2 lemon
3-4 fresh mint leaves
1 inch ginger grated
2 tsp Honey
more mint and strawberries, to garnish

  • Bring 250 ml water to a boil in a small saucepan with the grated ginger . Remove from heat and add the tea bag. Steep 3- 5 minutes. Discard the bags and stir in the honey until fully dissolved. Let cool.
  • In a blender, combine the green tea, the remaining 50 ml of water, strawberries, lemon juice, and mint leaves. Pulse until combined. Strain through a fine sieve to remove the solids.
  • Cover and chill until ready to serve. Serve with a garnish of fresh mint and strawberries.

Respiratory Infections: Springtime is also the season when respiratory infections are on the rise. Allergens from the environment can irritate the respiratory tract and weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections. Additionally, variations in temperature and humidity during the transition from winter to spring can create favorable conditions for viruses and bacteria to thrive. This combination of factors can contribute to an increase in respiratory infections during the spring months. Practicing good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing and avoiding close contact with individuals who are unwell, can help prevent the spread of infections. Strengthen your immune system with adequate amounts of deep sleep and the right food choices. Make sure you sleep well to help your immune system potent enough to fight off the flu bug. Beetroots, pumpkins, capsicum, red cabbage, tomato, green tea, dals, dark chocolate, ginger and lemon are some foods that can really help your lungs when down with a cold. Here’s a recipe for soothing that nasal congestion and helping you breathe if you are down with a respiratory infection.

Hot Ginger Lemon Green Tea

1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon loose green tea leaves or 1 green tea bag
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
250 ml water
Honey or sweetener of your choice (optional)

  • In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil.
  • Add the sliced ginger to the boiling water and let it simmer for about 5 minutes to infuse the water with ginger flavor.
  • Remove the saucepan from heat and add the green tea leaves or tea bag to the water. Let it steep for 2-3 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea.
  • Strain the tea into a cups to remove the ginger slices and tea leaves.
  • Add a few slices of lemon to each cup of tea.
  • If desired, sweeten the tea with honey or your preferred sweetener.
  • Stir well and serve hot.

Seasonal Food Choices

Tasty and nutritious can sometimes be seen as opposing concepts. However, during the spring months, you can enjoy both thanks to the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available. It’s important to note that foodborne illnesses can occur if proper food handling and storage practices are not followed. Make sure to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, store perishable foods properly, and avoid cross-contamination. With the increased temperatures, cooked leftover food can spoil faster, so it’s best to avoid leftovers and cook in smaller quantities. If you do have leftovers, store them in smaller portioned containers to prevent repeated cooking and heating of the entire batch of food.

Here’s a Mediterranean-inspired salad recipe tailored to tantalize Indian palates, offering both health and taste.

2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
75 gms paneer, sliced into ½ inch thick pieces
Handful of fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon chaat masala
1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

  • Arrange the tomato and paneer slices alternately on a serving plate, overlapping them slightly.
  • Scatter the fresh basil leaves over them.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make the dressing.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the salad.
  • Season with salt, pepper, chaat masala, and roasted cumin powder,
  • Serve immediately.

Incorporating these simple yet effective nutrition tips into your daily routine can help you embrace the joys of spring while safeguarding your health against seasonal challenges. By prioritizing nutrition and making mindful food choices, you can thrive and flourish in every season, allowing you to savor the beauty of each moment to the fullest.

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Written by:

Dr. Sripriya Venkiteswaran, PhD Nutritional Sciences
Head of Content, Cuddles Institute of Clinical Nutrition

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