Which are the foods that can help one to cool down in summer?
The best foods for summer are the ones that are light and refreshing. They include watermelon, cucumber, mint, oranges, pineapple and sweet lime, among others. Since they are low in sodium and calories, high in potassium, and packed with vitamin C, A and antioxidants, these fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables easily qualify as good thirst quenchers and coolants.
Wheat grass juice and other green juices made from coriander, curry leaves and spinach are also ideal. Sip coconut water, fruit juices, buttermilk, lime juice, carrot and beetroot juice to cool yourself from the summer heat. You can add black salt and lime juice to make the green juices palatable. Brown rice, raw vegetables, mung sprouts salad, alfalfa sprouts tossed in green salad, low-fat curds, steamed or lightly stir-fried vegetables, watery dal soups, herbal and green teas should be consumed as they promote easier digestion and better assimilation, which is needed during summers.
Are chilies good for the system in the summer? If not, what food can be eaten instead of them?
No, excessive amounts of chili and pepper in meals are irritating to the digestive system and hence should be used only in moderation. Instead, season foods with small amounts of cumin (jeera), fresh coriander and mint (pudina) as these are milder and also act as digestives.
How much water should one consume in summer? Should they be taken with any herbs or sweetener to cool the system?
A person should drink at least 10-12 glasses or 2.5 to 3 litres of water per day. Maintaining an optimum fluid intake is vital during summers in order to avoid dehydration and to compensate for water lost during perspiration. The best way would be to drink plain water, though you may also add lime, cumin (jal jeera) powder, basil seeds (sabza) and mint juice. Drinking soda with salt may help to replace the electrolytes that we lose through sweat during summers. However, avoid caffeinated or carbonated beverages, alcohol and beverages high in sugar. Consume coconut water to beat the heat.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.