Summer!! It is the season for magnificent mangoes, juicy melons, soothing coconut water. This is the time when happy family holidays are being planned. However, the soaring temperatures can take a toll on one’s health. Bacteria and viruses multiply and cause food and waterborne infections like gastroenteritis, jaundice, typhoid and cholera. The strong sun and hot winds may cause a heat stroke and dehydration. Fungal and yeast infections on the skin may occur due to profuse sweating.
The golden mantra – Eating smart will keep you slim, healthy and cool this summer.
A few handy tips
Hydrate – When humidity rises, sweat does not evaporate easily, so body heat is trapped – thus the danger of dehydration and heat stroke. Keep your body well hydrated with clear fluids. For every hour that you are in the sun, drink at least 1-2 glasses of fluids. Remember to carry your water bottle when you go out. Do not use polyethylene plastic bottles as the plastic can leach into the water. Prefer to use stainless steel or glass bottles. It is advisable to drink 10-12 glasses of fluids every day.
Drinks to hydrate: Sweet lime/lemon juice, mintade, coconut water, thin butter milk, fresh homemade fruit and vegetable juice. Using tulsi and mint leaves in your drinks has a cooling effect. Fresh iced tea prepared at home is very refreshing, has very few calories and plenty of antioxidants.
Drinks to avoid: Caffeinated, carbonated beverages, other sugary drinks, alcohol need to be reduced as they are acidic and diuretic and aggravate dehydration. In case you take alcohol then keep sipping water in between your drinks. Many fizzy drinks have some amount of phosphoric acid which may irritate the lining of the stomach. Their excessive intake may also draw out calcium from the bones making them brittle.
A good breakfast: Head out in the morning well hydrated and after having a nutritious breakfast otherwise your skin will sag and wrinkle in the summer sun, you may get dehydrated and even faint. A suitable breakfast option is a combination of complex carbs rich in fiber and high protein foods. For example – any whole grain along with eggs/tofu/sprouts followed by a bowl of fresh fruits.
Your digestion may slow down in the heat so learn to eat light, small but frequent.
Good and Bad Summer Foods
Consume foods that are low fat, cooling, light and nutritious. Look for fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables from a good source. A fruit salad containing berries and stone fruit like peaches, cherries, blackberries, apricots, carrots, grapefruit, cherry tomatoes, beetroot are not only abundant in flavonoids, carotenes and fiber but also have a cooling effect and keep your weight in check.
Freshly cut watermelon is a good hydrating food. It also has cancer fighting pigments (lycopenes) and just 40 calories /cup. It even provides essential electrolytes lost in the sweat.
Mangoes soaked overnight and then eaten are cooling and rich in vitamin A.
Greens like the leaves of radish, drumsticks, spinach, spring onions and watery vegetables are abundant in essential micronutrients and antioxidants like manganese, zinc, iron, calcium and copper.
Include ‘raitas’ and cold yoghurt.
There are several low-calorie protein options which can be combined well with fruits and vegetables – nuts, sprouts, seeds, soy, yoghurt,
cottage cheese, grilled/steamed fish and chicken.
Rules for eating out
Avoid raw and cold foods – especially salads, cut fruit, chutneys, chaat, creamy cakes and pastries, fruit juices, or ice creams. These may be tempting but very likely to cause stomach infections if not stored at the right cool temperature. In India, there are frequent power breakdowns and voltage fluctuations – these may cause the microbes to grow and multiply on food.
A few other suggestions
When buying ice creams check the expiry date and even bulges on the packaging which indicates that the ice cream has melted and refrozen
Wear sunscreen on all exposed areas of your body
Choose your clothes aptly – light coloured cotton which will keep you comfortable and cool
Avoid going out during noon – use an umbrella