Steaming cups of chai and delicious pakoras are what come to mind as the season of monsoon brings with it fun and a welcome relief from the scorching summer heat. For your children, however, monsoons are a time to be extra careful. When exposed to the rains, kids are particularly susceptible to seasonal health problems like cough, cold, flu, diarrhoea, and mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria, and chikungunya.
As the monsoon knocks on our doors, here is some advice to make the season rich in health and nutrients for children:
Drink plenty of purified and boiled water
Keep kids hydrated, even if they do not feel thirsty due to the weather. Children remain at the risk of water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid during monsoons. Also, keep your children from playing in the rain, as they can come in contact with and ingest rainwater filled with bacteria and viruses not visible to the naked eye.
Say no to street and junk food, even if your kids crave for it
Not only are they high on calorific value and low on nutrition, foods and beverages such as pre-cut fruits, juices and chaat can contain traces of rainwater and are breeding grounds for germs. Avoiding oily and spicy food during monsoons is also a good idea. If you like, you can prepare something healthy at home.
Stale food is a strict no-no
Clean your fruits and veggies. Consume only cooked food. This is important to kill any microorganisms. One can also try sauteéing fruit such as apples, apricots, bananas, pineapple, peaches, plums, pears, cherries. This also enhances their taste and texture.
Load up on Vitamin C
It is an antioxidant and vital to maintaining overall health. Giving your child meals high in vitamin C and other nutrients is one of the best methods to strengthen their immune system. Vitamin C is abundant in citrus fruits and vegetables like kale, apple, guava, and orange.
Go for gourds
Bitter gourd (karela) and bottle gourd (lauki or ghiya) are abundantly available during the monsoon and are packed with fibre and vitamins. Yes, we understand children can dislike eating them but it can be fun for parents to get creative in the kitchen with these veggies. Include easy dietary elements like turmeric, ginger, cumin and nuts like almonds and walnuts in your kids’ diet.
If your child catches a monsoon illness, it can deplete their nutrients quickly and in large quantities. Consider giving children a safe and tested immunity booster supplement after checking with their doctor. For better kids’ immunity, there are few good flavoured products in the market for kids, which contain 37 vital nutrients like prebiotics and probiotics, folic acid, zinc, selenium, copper, vitamins A, C, E and B12, as well as other nutrients.
Here are some non-diet related tips for parents and children for a healthier monsoon:
* Maintain proper hand hygiene and use disinfectants while bathing. Use sanitisers at school.
* Keep water from collecting in and around your place. Use a mosquito repellent cream for children.
* Wear clothing that covers your full hands and legs.
* Try to keep surfaces, clothes and shoes as dry as possible. Do not bring rain-soaked items inside your home, including umbrellas, raincoats and gumboots.
* Cut their nails regularly to avoid pileup of germs and bacteria.
* Use anti-fungal powders to avoid infections due to sweat.
* Get children vaccinated against Covid-19 when they are eligible for the jab.
(The writer is CMO, Zeon Lifesciences.)