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Has the heat got to you?

health-and-fitness Updated: Apr 15, 2010 16:40 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee
Dr Anjali Mukerjee
Hindustan Times
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Summers have arrived and the sun seems to be depriving us of the moisture beneath our skin. During this period, we might commonly experience our body temperatures rise and suffer acidity, bloating and lethargy. Our body adapts to the temperature outside. When it’s hot, blood circulation towards the surface of the skin increases to dissipate body heat and make it cool down. In the process, you end up losing moisture.

So it is important to drink fluids to aid the body’s cooling mechanisms. If the water intake is inadequate, body temperature can soar and even lead to a heat stroke.It’d also be wise to eat foods that keep the body cool.

Reduce body heat
Foods that help you bring down the heat include:
*Sabza: Seeds of sabza are a natural cooling agent. They need to be soaked in water for half-an-hour after which they swell up and look gelatinous. They can be added to cold milk with rose syrup. It can cause water retention for some.
*Onions: Raw onions are great to cool the system. Have them as part of a vegetable salad or chutney.
* Mango: Raw mangoes are ideal to prevent sunstrokes and diarrhoea during summer. They are a source of Vitamin C and prevent the loss of excessive salts and iron from the body.
* Barley: Barley can be used to make gruels and porridges. First, make a healthy barley drink by boiling barley grains along with rock sugar and pandan leaf (a Thai aromatic leaf). Strain the liquid, cool and serve with slices of fresh lime.
*Spices: Spices such as poppy seeds, cardamom, sandalwood, fennel (saunf) and saffron are great cooling agents. A sandalwood drink enhanced with cardamom, saffron, saunf and rock salt is great.
*Raisins: Soaked black raisins are beneficial when had with an equal mix of cold milk and water.
*Gulkand: This cooling preserve made from rose petals and sugar fights fatigue, lethargy, muscular aches and heat-related conditions. be wary of the sugar though.
*Fuel up with fluids: Drink more than 8-10 glasses of water everyday. You can even have coconut water, fresh fruit juices, buttermilk or water flavoured with mint leaves.
*Fruits and vegetables: Most fruits and vegetables including cucumber, water melon, jackfruit, grapes and pineapple help hydrate.
* Drink two tsp of amla juice with half a glass of pomegranate juice.
*Try to follow a vegetarian diet.
* Eating too many mangoes increases body heat. Try to consume not more than one a day.
* Avoid using garam masala, methi seeds, mustard seeds, red chillies in your daily cooking as these aggravate heat symptoms.

Steer clear of these
Maximise the benefits of cooling foods by avoiding these:
*Cut down on caffeinated beverages. Caffeine and alcohol make you urinate more, thereby dehydrating your body and increasing your susceptibility to heat strokes.
*Alcohol dissipates immense heat and must not be had during the summer season. Either avoid it completely or drink with plenty of water.
* Avoid sour, spicy and oily foods. Cut down on spices, cheese, fermented foods, vinegar and excess oil.
* Avoid mutton, chicken and fish gravy that appears greasy. Papaya, too, is known to heat up the body.

Change yourself
A few such modifications in your lifestyle will save you from the onslaught of the sun:
*Restrict outdoor activities to early mornings or late evenings.
*Wear comfortable cotton clothes to aid absorption of sweat. Use an umbrella to cover your head when you go out.
Practice yogasanas such as anulom vilom and sheetkari pranayam to regulate internal body temperature.