The recent floods have not only displaced millions, but also disrupted the dietary plans and other regimens that many may have been following rigorously. Lack of balanced meals and shortage of medicines may have adversely affected the overall well-being of the people in the flood hit areas. People are turning up in large numbers to clean up houses and public spaces where water has receded. This may result in extreme fatigue often leading to many other severe health issues. Besides, experts have warned of maintaining mental health of people as a calamity of this magnitude is likely to create stress.
Health and nutrition experts stress the importance of following a healthy and well-balanced diet at least for some time, before we fully recover from the effects of floods. Personal hygiene is as important as community hygiene. People are alerted against the outbreak of communicable diseases which may even prove fatal at times. Food cooked in unhygienic surroundings may cause bacterial infections. Similarly, it should be ensured that the ingredients used for cooking are in good quality and not decayed. Do not use food articles which were stored in the kitchen of a flooded house. All the food items which were stored in fridge before the floods should be disposed. Dampened and moldy food items should not be used. The vessels used for cooking, plates and glasses should be thoroughly washed and cleaned before using them again. Nutritious food which boosts the immunity power of the body should be eaten during these times to store up energy required to take on life with renewed courage.
Medical experts say that a simple diet which is easy to digest should be followed to avoid the loss of energy during the digestive process. High calorie food shoots up the body temperature and also requires extra energy for digestion. Balanced meals not only provide good health and energy but also ease the digestive process. It is ideal to consume local dishes prepared with locally sourced clean and fresh ingredients.
Scarcity of clean drinking water is a major challenge faced by many in the flood affected areas. It is important to drink at least 6-8 glasses of clean water daily. It is ideal to drink boiled water, and make sure that the water is boiled for at least 5-8 minutes. The water should be stored in the same vessel in which it has been boiled. Adding a handful of dried ginger or coriander into the boiling water will keep diseases away. Chlorine tablets too could be used to purify the drinking water sources. Drop a chlorine tablet in 20 liters of water and leave it for half an hour. Water, purified in this way, should be used for cooking as well. Fruits and vegetables should be washed properly in clean water before using it. Uncovered and chilled food items should not be consumed. Food should be heated properly and it is ideal to eat it when it is still warm. Do not leave open the food articles for so long after cooking.
The diet of old people too is very important, and should include easily digestible food items like kanji (rice gruel) or oats. Nursing mothers should continue breastfeeding their babies, and should eat food which are rich in protein and other essential nutrients to nourish themselves and the baby. Rice gruel is an excellent food which is packed with nutrients and is easy on digestion as well. It is ideal to consume a bowl of hot rice gruel for dinner at night. Green gram thoran (stir fry) or puzhukku (boiled vegetables mixed with grated coconut and spices) which contain locally grown vegetables like tapioca and yam, are excellent side dishes which make kanji even more nutritious. Papad and roasted coconut chutney too can be served with the rice gruel. Medicinal kanji prepared by adding black pepper corns, dried ginger, cumin, coriander, and ajwain improves the immunity of the body.
A fruit, too, could be included in the daily diet. However, fruits with high water content (water melons) and that are too old or ripened should be avoided.