Monday 15 May 2017

Beat the Heat with What you EAT

Summers are here for quite long now and temperature is soaring high day by day. With the onset of summers, sun starts shining bright at the very beginning of the day and the hot winds hold sway. This phenomenon stays around for most of the day. This heat of the sun not only makes us tired but also depletes the body of several vital nutrients through perspiration.

Very often in summers we feel “not hungry”. Actually the heat suppresses our appetite as a result of which we tend to eat less. This in turn leads to deficiency of essential substances in the body.
Your diet needs attention during this season. Not only the losses from the body are high but also this weather makes the body prone to a lot of infections and thus diseases. So, here we come with the solution to all these problems. A simple and easy guide about foods to be consumed during this season will help you to remain fit and cool.

Water: The most essential “nutrient” of the season. Just as the lakes and wells around us go dry in this season, the body also dehydrates and the requirement for water increases. Water helps to cool and rehydrate the body, protecting it from various deleterious effects of sun and heat. So one should be drinking water even if they are not thirsty because your body requires it!!! Drinking water before moving out in sun is helpful in preventing heat stroke. However, in summers one should be cautious about the source of the drinking water. If the water is dirty or contaminated in any form, it would be doing more harm than help. So drink water but make sure its safe and clean.

Cereals: Wheat, barley and brown rice are considered to the “cool” cereals. While most of us are eating wheat chapattis everyday, barley is also a very good option for a change. Brown rice is more nutritious, easy to digest and low on carbs as compared to our conventional white rice. Wheat dalia either with milk or with vegetables in the form of a chilled salad is a nice option to charge yourself for the day.

Pulses: Most of us consider pulses to be a “hard to digest” food. Of course, it would be if you eat the traditional dal makhani!!!! It definitely tastes good but is difficult for the stomach considering the amount of fat and cream that goes in. Instead try for healthier options like sprouts, lentil soup or even sattu. A lot of veggies with a dash of lemon added in sprouts or boiled lobia/ rajmah makes up for a good, nutritious and a light snack.

Vegetables: The nature does it all!!! If it created a heated weather, it also created the vegetables for the season. Most of the summer vegetables like tinda, torai, fali, lauki, bhindi, brinjals, kaddu have high content of water and essential minerals which we tend to lose during perspiration. Fresh kakadi, kheera and tomatoes are excellent salad options for the season. However, one should be cautious to wash them thoroughly before using them.

Fruits: The season has all the fruits to combat the heat and refresh the body. Water melon, musk melon, masumbi, lichi and bananas are very cooling for the body. Water content of these fruits is high and they also make up for the vitamin and mineral deficits caused by excess sweat. A chilled fruit salad in the evening refreshes and rehydrates the body after a hot day. However, people with diabetes and kidney diseases need to consult before including these fruits in their diet.     

Milk and milk products: Cold milk is advisable in summers. Various milk products like chaach, lassi and curd are not only refreshing but also provide the necessary protein, vitamins and minerals.

Sugars and Fats: High temperatures lead to lethargy and tiredness. Heavy meals, fat laden fried foods, foods high in cream etc. are difficult to digest and further contribute to lethargy. Also these kind of foods put load on the gastric system which may result in gastric problems. Foods high in sugars may result in weight gain.

Drinks: Raw mango juice, water melon juice, thandai, neembu pani, coconut water etc. are cooling drinks and easy options for replenishing the fluid and mineral losses. Chilled vegetable soups are great appetizers and also help you to stay hydrated by making up for the fluid losses. Adding herbs like pudina, basil, thyme, lemon juice and vinegars to drinks and salads make them light, refreshing and saves off the excess calories added by heavy dressings.

Desserts: Forget your creamy heavy desserts, instead satisfy your ferocious sweet tooth with healthy fruit based desserts. Low calorie desserts like dark frozen sweet cherries, frozen grapes, chocolate covered frozen banana, grilled blackberries with white peaches and honey, grilled pineapple with pecans and rum, low fat fresh fruit ice creams and grilled banana sundaes made from low fat ice creams are also some good summer food choices. Try low fat fresh fruit yogurts and low fat fresh fruit custards for protein and calcium in your diet.   

At a glance:

  • Keep your body rehydrated with plenty of fluids – water, neembu pani, nariyal pani, fresh fruit juices, raw mango juice.
  • Before moving out in sun, drink a glass of water and carry one bottle with you but after entering from a sunny hot day, do not drink chilled water/ drinks immediately. Wait for the sweat to dry off and then drink water.
  • Carbonated/ cold drinks, icecreams etc. should not be used to alleviate the effects of heat. These products are high in sugars, preservatives and colours. They are acidic in nature and act as diuretics leading to water loss.    
  • Avoid high fat, deep fried foods and heavy cream desserts. These foods retard gastric emptying and increase the thermal effect of the system resulting in discomfort.
  • Limit all strenuous activity.
  • Minimize the intake of dried fruits; instead go ahead with fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Reduce the intake of heaty foods like spinach, radish, hot peppers, garlic, beet root, pineapple etc.
  • Have small, light and nutritious meals.
  • Minimize the intake of hot, spicy and salty foods.  
  • Since infection is common to this season, hygiene should be taken care of.