We may have elbowed out traditional food habits due to our single-minded obsession with convenience, but these ageold kitchen remedies can result in better health and a fitter body, says Kavita Devgan Your
Your grandmother probably began her day with a glass of warm water mixed with freshly-squeezed lemon juice. And you may have laughed at her explanation of the ritual, that it acts as a cleanser of the body’s internal system. But science proves her right; it says that this simple drink restores the acid-alkali balance in our gut and supports the growth of healthy bacteria.
Every morning, you also probably saw her chewing one or two crushed garlic pods on an empty stomach, and wondered why. Scientific research has proven that garlic, which contains 70 active phytochemicals (biologically active compounds found in plants), helps reduce the risk of cancer. Garlic also keeps bad cholesterol at bay, prevents the deposit of plaque in our body and keeps our heart in the pink of health. Another traditional start to the day is soaked almonds. The reason being that soaked foods ease the stomach before the first meal of the day.
These kitchen remedies or grandmom’s hacks were common in Indian households till about a generation ago. But today, unfortunately, in our rush to embrace modernity and convenience, we have discarded most of these traditional habits. But with lifestyle stress building every day, the need of the hour is to reinclude these in our daily routine.
Another common household remedy to treat gastritis is ajwain (carom seed) water. To make this concoction, boil two teaspoons of roasted ajwain in water and strain. Have it for almost immediate relief. After over-eating, my grandmother made sure I drank multiple cups of water boiled with fennel seeds, which soothed the stomach and reduced bloating.
The smartest one-pot dish of all times, khichdi, is also a great comfort food. Along with evoking comforting memories, eating rice also raises serotonin levels, a chemical produced by nerve cells that affects our mood, social behaviour, appetite, sleep and memory. Science says serotonin has a soothing effect on us.
Our elders advised us to wash a fruit well and eat it whole. The reason was not to waste the fruit fibre, which keeps the digestive system clean. Juice was reserved only for times when one was sick, or for those who could not chew! Now, of course, it has been proven that the fibre in fruits and vegetables helps the body to use their goodness at the right pace, unlike in the case of juice, which only delivers concentrated fructose that our body scampers to use up, and ends up messing its insulin resistance in the process (besides hastening diabetes along the way).
All of us have heard of the benefits of drinking haldi (turmeric) mixed with milk. Turmeric’s probiotic properties soothe the stomach and strengthen the digestive system by improving intestinal flora (symbiotic bacteria occurring naturally in the gut). And if you are eating heavy-protein food, it assists in digestion and prevents the formation of gas.
So the next time you are suffering from a common ailment, look for a traditional remedy before popping a pill!
The author is a renowned nutritionist and the views expressed in the article are her own