Monsoon Diet & Sawan Traditions: Gut Specialist Busts Myths

When the season transitions from the scorching heat of the summer to a cooler breeze followed by a downpour of the monsoon, it is natural for your body to experience some changes. To make the body feel at ease, there are a lot of recommendations on what to eat and foods to avoid. But how can you differentiate between the myths and facts?

To get you credible information, Slurrp conducted an exclusive interview with Dr Dimple Jangda, a gut specialist and a celebrity health coach. Apart from being an author, she also founded Prana by Dimple. So, if you want to know more about the answers behind “what” and “why”, you should avoid certain types of food and the Indian Sawan traditions; read on to get an expert opinion.

Monsoon Diet: What To Avoid And Why

Why should raw fruits and vegetables be avoided during the monsoon season?

and fruits, one is advised to have stewed fruits, wherein you peel an apple, peach, or pear, add some water and warm spices like cinnamon, clove, and pepper, and stew them on a low flame. This stewed fruit helps clear vata imbalance in the lower intestine, which is dryness and roughness and helps stimulate the digestive fire and metabolic fire. It also helps clear constipation and remove trapped toxins from the body.

Should fried and heavy food be avoided? What are some healthy alternatives?

Monsoons or savan seasons mark the end of a fiery, hot summer season during which vata and pitta imbalance goes up in our body and accumulates in the stomach, small and large intestines. So, eating deep-fried foods will only aggravate pitta imbalance and cause burning sensation, acidity, indigestion, and even aggravate GERD symptoms. 

I would advise that instead of fried food, have well-balanced and well-cooked meals like khicdi with a dollop of ghee to help acclimatise and prepare the body for the new season. Mono dieting, which is eating the same meal 2-3 times a day for at least 5-7 days, gives the liver the much-needed rest to focus on detoxification.

Why is having beverages like ginger tea or kadha so popular in India during rainy weather?

Ginger has anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and anti-bacterial benefits, which help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Ginger also helps stimulate the Agni or digestive fire in the body and aids digestion. Furthermore, ginger contains a compound called gingerol, which helps reduce inflammation in the body and helps with conditions like arthritis.

It has anti-spasmodic benefits, which help reduce stomach cramps and spasms and reduce discomfort. It has anti-bacterial properties, which can prevent further growth of Ecoli and shigella, which can otherwise cause food poisoning and gastrointestinal infections. Therefore, it is recommended that you add fresh grated ginger to your teas, kada, soups, and vegetable dishes, and you can even add dry ginger powder to your dishes. This adds the much-needed zing and stimulates digestion.

Sawan Traditions And Practices

⁠During Sawan, many people follow a satvik diet. Is there a religious or health reason behind this tradition?

Sawan traditions are not just limited to religious practices. It’s part of ritucharya, a subject on ayurvedic nutrition, where we change our dietary habits based on changes in the season. However, regarding the religious aspect, Sawan, also known as Shravan, has religious significance and many cultural connotations. It usually falls between July and August and is accompanied by the monsoons. Some religious groups pray and fast on Mondays and offer bael leaves to lord Shiva, and others engage in fasting and religious ceremonies, too. 

Why do people avoid certain foods like garlic, onion, and eggs during Sawan?

During Sawan, the growth of micro-organisms becomes abundant, which causes root vegetables to become more contaminated. Some religious groups, like the Jain community, avoid consuming root vegetables during monsoons. From a nutrition perspective, avoiding root vegetables is a safe way to prevent stomach infections, bugs and parasites from entering the body. It reduces the incidence of sickness as well. 

⁠Fasting is common during Sawan. What are some of its benefits and drawbacks?

Fasting during Shravan month has innumerable benefits, as it gives the body a much-needed break from digesting complex foods. The large detoxifying organs like the liver and kidney are able to focus on cleansing heavy metals and toxins from the body. In contrast, while fasting, the body itself starts liquefying toxins and moving them towards the gut for elimination. This is a great way to kickstart and boost your metabolism for the rest of the year. 

You can engage in intermittent fasting, which is no food after sunset until sunrise the next morning. You can also engage in fruit fasting, water fasting or dry fasting to rid the body of toxins. There are no drawbacks to fasting except if you experience chronic acidity, headaches, or weakness. If that’s the case, then it's better to switch to fruit fasting or even mono dieting.

People assume that fasting or limiting themselves to certain kinds of vegetables will make them weak or cause nutritional deficiencies. In fact, it’s the opposite. Fasting or consuming fewer ingredients allows your body to focus on better absorbing the nutrients from those specific food groups. So keep an open mind and experience the abundant health benefits of fasting.