The traditional Indian diet—power-packed with spices and herbs, most with medicinal properties—has always been about “eating clean”. And now, more than ever, in this COVID-19 era, it’s crucial for us to go back to our roots and reach out to foods that not only protect against chronic diseases but also have the natural ability to help heal post an illness.The foods to add to your diet for healing1. Herbs and spices
“Looking at the current situation, health and diet has become a priority for our well-being. Turmeric (or curcumin), an important component in Indian food helps improve heart problems and brain health. Liquorice, a sweet root and stem, is beneficial for any kind of infection and inflammation, eventually improving the overall digestive system,” says Mumbai-based Neeraj Gogia, Ayurvedic doctor and advisor, Food Veda, Zee Zest.
Add piperine (a compound found in black pepper) to healing concoctions with curcumin, suggests Naturopath Dr Meghna Thacker, as it helps increase its bioavailability by 2,000 per cent. “Yes, you heard right! Somehow, our ancestors already knew about this fact since there are so many home remedies using turmeric (haldi doodh, to name a popular one) that have been passed down,” says Dr Thacker, who runs her naturopathy clinic, Feel Your Best Self, in Arizona.
In India, we use holy basil leaves (tulsi) in our food as well, which have both antibacterial as well as antioxidant properties. “According to Ayurvedic philosophy, basil is spiritually and medicinally very beneficial, it is believed to create purity and lightness in the body and helps clear out the toxins from the body,” says Dr Gogia.2. Immune-boosting grain-based meals
Bajre (pearl millet) ki raab has been a natural go-to when she is on the mend. “This warm, soothing soup—made of bajra flour, dry ginger powder, jaggery, ajwain and ghee—not only enhances our immunity but also cures loss of appetite that follows an illness in addition to boosting low energy levels,” she says, “Instead of jaggery, one can also use raw honey as a sweetener. Raw honey, in its purest form, is soothing, relieves inflammation and has antimicrobial properties. Thus, it works very well for cough, sore throat and upper respiratory tract infections."
Another famous Indian dish for someone recovering from an illness due to its easy digestibility is moong dal khichdi. “It is a perfect blend of protein and carbohydrates, and when cooked in ghee (which provides healthy fats), it becomes a complete and balanced meal. Not just that, moong dal contains excess fibre, Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. When one is sick, I suggest cooking it with garlic to boost the function of the immune system,” she says, further explaining, “When garlic is crushed, it releases a compound called allicin. These sulphur compounds from garlic enter from the digestive tract and travel all over the body, where it exerts its potent biological effects. These biological effects help fight the infection in the mouth and throat, also reaching the lungs."
“One can also opt for kacchi haldi ka halwa as it includes raw turmeric and jaggery, both ingredients containing healing properties and best served as a comfort sweet-dish,” says Gogia. “This keep the nutrients intact and alive,” says Kunal Kapoor, chef and host, Food Veda, Zee Zest. “Heat ghee and roast wheat flour till it turns golden brown. Remove the pan and keep it aside for cooling. Heat grated turmeric (with ghee) on a medium flame till its raw flavour evaporates and then mix roasted wheat flour into the roasted turmeric. To make jaggery syrup, mix two cups of jaggery and water and bring it to boil. Strain the boiled jaggery syrup and add it into the mixer and stir it well. Add dry fruits for garnishing."3. Soothing drinks
For lactating and postpartum mothers, Thacker suggests you include her favourite morning beverage—badam (almond) delight—when she was on maternity leave. “This combination of almonds (great source of protein, fats and essential minerals), ghee (full of Omega-3 fatty acids that are good for brain and heart health), milk, cardamom (antioxidant and anti-inflammatory) and honey not only gave me energy during those difficult days but also helped my body produce a good amount of milk for my very hungry baby,” she says.
If you are looking to sip on a warm drink for comfort, Dr Gogia recommends kashayam—a healing Ayurveda blend that helps boost immunity and fight indigestion. “In a pan lightly roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black pepper, fennel seeds, cloves and green cardamom. Transfer all the lightly roasted masalas into a pestle and grind it. Once it comes to a slight boil add the kashayam powder along with dry ginger powder and turmeric powder. Boil it for another two-three minutes, strain it and then mix in jaggery,” says Kapoor.Also read:
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