As people get older, their immunity becomes weaker, which increases their risk of getting sick. Because of low immunity levels, senior citizens are prone to monsoon-related sicknesses including viral infections, flu, common cold, dry cough, respiratory disorders and joint pains. Hence, it is important that elderly people eat healthy and follow certain hygienic practices to stay healthy and safe during the monsoon season.
Dr. Karthiyayini Mahadevan, Head of Health and Wellness at Columbia Pacific Communities, says, "The immunity of an individual wanes as one's age is part of senescent cells. To live a quality life, we must nurture the immune system for optimum functioning. Seasons bring along with them a certain strength and a setback. Our ancient wisdom of healing, ayurveda, mentions that food is medicine, and it is pertinent that the gut undergoes certain changes with seasonal changes. It is not only what one should eat but also how much and at what time."
Dr. Mahadevan also shares some diet tips for seniors to boost immunity during the monsoon season:
A specific diet enforced through religious rituals such as pathyam should be adopted to meet the challenges of the change of season. One such pathyam is to have a special porridge called 'karkadaga kaanji' cooked with red rice and herbs.
Having an early dinner close to sunset is always good, and one must always chew the food well. People who have lost their teeth and use artificial dentures should choose a texture of food that is easily digested.
Dinner meals should include warm soup, simple protein and no oily food. One should avoid eating heavy proteins such as animal protein, plant protein like rajma, channa and milk protein like paneer for dinner. It is best to avoid taking spinach during monsoon.
Since monsoon reduces the exposures to sunlight, it is advised to include vitamin D supplements in case of deficiency.
Eating citrus fruits such as sweet lime adds vitamin C to boost the immune system. A fibre-rich diet sourced through plant-based food helps nourish the gut flora. Thereby there is adequate vitamin B12 production.
Antioxidants are essential to boost the immune system which can be sourced through colourful vegetables and fruits. Eating vegetables and fruits of the season helps supply the required micronutrients and trace elements.
What are the hygienic practices one should follow?
Dr. Mahadevan says:
During monsoon, people reduce their water intake to avoid visiting the toilet frequently. This may lead to decreased hydration, which might cause electrolyte imbalance and urinary tract infection.
With restrictions on outdoor activities, one tends to neglect their regular walks. One must include physical activities as they boost the immune system by releasing the feel-good hormone Endorphin and abate the feeling of hopelessness. Moderation in food, activity and rest is a gateway to health.
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Some indoor activities can help improve immunity, such as doing a figure-eight walk between chairs. If there is a gym facility, appropriate exercises with the gym equipment also help boost immunity.