Summer brings with it a slew of health problems. Dehydration, loss of appetite and allergies are some ailments that can turn this season into an unhealthy one. But certain foods can help cool your body, without compromising on nutrition. “Maintain your body’s water level in the heat, not just by drinking fluids, but also choosing foods that contain a lot of water,” says nutritionist Mitalee Doshi. Here’s our guide to what you should pile your plates with this summer.
Say yes to
Intestinal infections such as cholera and typhoid go around faster when the weather is warm. Eating curd increases the friendly bacteria in the intestines. “These bacteria promote digestion and boost immunity. Curd also contains vitamin B, which helps soothe ulcers, allergies and heat boils that tend to appear during summers,” says Doshi.
Coconut water, sugar cane and lemon juice
Due to sweating, water and essential minerals are lost from the body, which in turn, makes you tired and sluggish. But certain drinks can work as energisers. “Coconut water, packed with simple sugars, electrolytes and minerals, replenishes hydration levels,” says Doshi. “Sugar cane juice is useful for those who work out. Since it contains only natural sugars, it cools the body and energises with a high quantity of carbohydrates.” A lemon and honey drink can also instantly replenish your body’s lost water.
“Fruits like watermelon, lemon, sweet lime and orange should be consumed during the hot months as they have high water content,” says Sanjeev Kapoor, chef and director, Wonderchef. Doshi adds, “Fruits rehydrate the body and provide the essential vitamins and minerals to keep up the energy levels.”
Light to digest, water-based vegetables are recommended for the summer. “Stock up on water-rich vegetables such as cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, spinach and bell peppers. They prevent urine from being acidic,” says Doshi. “Eating these foods may assist your body’s ability to release heat so that the hot weather doesn’t make you feel overheated or exhausted.”
Say no to
They may lead to constriction of blood vessels and decrease heat loss from the body. “Extremely cold foods and drinks are known to interfere with digestion and sweating, the body’s natural cooling mechanism,” explains Doshi.
Heavy, oil-based foods and spices
“Digestion of heavy foods depletes the levels of water further. The result is fatigue, poor concentration, light- headedness and decreased metabolism. Oil contains fat, which, on entering the body, produces a thermal effect and increases its temperature,” says Doshi. “Eating too much spicy food during summers also generates heat in the body,” says Kapoor.
Caffeine and alcohol
Kapoor advises to avoid high caffeine content as it dehydrates your body. Doshi adds, “Caffeine and alcohol both act as diuretics — substances that increase urination, which leads to a loss of excessive water from the body. Plus, with additives like sugar and other chemicals, they can increase your body’s temperature from within.”
For a healthy summer
Drink three litres of water daily. Also, drink water before, during and after physical activity to offset the fluid your body loses through perspiration. Your diet should comprise soups, salads and fruits.
Plan light meals during the day to keep you agile. Hygiene measures should be followed as summer brings water-borne diseases. Washing hands, eating fresh food and avoiding outside food is a must.
— Inputs by Vimal Pahuja, general physician, Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital