Simple dietary hacks to beat the summer heat

With the temperature rising to unbearable levels this summer, it is important to know how to protect ourselves from the heat and to take preventive measures to avoid the adverse effects of the heat waves and intense humidity. Keeping our body cool from the inside by drinking plenty of water and consuming summer-friendly, nutritious foods are the best ways to beat the heat.

Adequate hydration is the most important thing our body needs to fight the soaring mercury level. When the outside temperature is very high, our body sweats a lot in an effort to keep the body surface cool. However, the body also loses some essential minerals like sodium and chloride along with the sweat. As a dietitian providing nutritional guidance to individuals with cardiovascular ailments and metabolic conditions like diabetes and obesity, I am glad to share the following dietary hacks that will help us all beat the summer heat.

Dietary hacks for the summer

  • Water: Drink at least 2-3 litres of water daily to stay well hydrated; remember to carry fresh drinking water with you to work, to your workouts, and just about anywhere you go.
  • Tender coconut water: Packed with essential electrolytes, minerals and vitamins, it helps to restore the body’s fluid balance. Remember to drink some of this naturally available energy drink before or after an activity where you sweat a lot.
  • Buttermilk or Lassi: This is an effective cooling agent and a refreshing beverage; it also provides essential probiotics, vitamins, and minerals that get depleted due to the intense summer heat. A glass of chilled buttermilk seasoned with a pinch of asafoetida, salt, and jeera powder is also the perfect welcome drink for summer social gatherings. A salt lassi or a mango lassi are some summer favourites too!
  • Watermelon: A versatile fruit with 90% water content, it hydrates the body during the summer season and helps in replacing the lost vitamins and minerals due to sweating. Use it in a fruit salad, as a glass of chilled juice, or watermelon ice cubes made from fresh juice. 
  • Musk melon: This summer fruit is a nature’s gift as it can be consumed in various forms.If you didn’t know, the dried and roasted musk melon seeds are rich in the healthy fatty acids, essential proteins, vitamins and minerals. Musk melon seeds can be dried, roasted and added to literally any dish.
  • Cucumber: Another water-rich vegetable, the cucumber can be incorporated in multiple ways in our daily diets during summer. It is good for hydration and detoxification and is best had as a raita, a juice or a salad.

Foods to avoid in the summer months

  • Spicy foods and deep fried foods are best avoided during the summer months.
  • Caffeine, soda and other carbonated drinks are to be consumed minimally as they can increase the risk of dehydration.
  • Red meat is rich in fat, takes more time to digest, and also increases the body temperature; instead, grilled and sautéed chicken and fish are better options.

When to get a doctor / dietician’s advise

  • In case you have been advised to limit your fluid intake by your doctor, you should get a dietician’s advice or a personalised diet plan suitable for the intense heat.
  • If you have a medical diagnosis and are taking medications, it is best to consult a dietician prior to making any dietary changes.
  • Individuals with dietary restrictions and allergies should be guided appropriately by a dietician in their healthy diet journey.
  • Individuals with heart diseases should remember to avoid exposure to extremes of temperature without adequate preparation as it can worsen their cardiac function.

In conclusion, consuming nature’s gift of summer-friendly fruits and vegetables that contain more vitamins and minerals is the best way to maintain the body’s hydration. Good hydration helps us work efficiently and keeps our brain more active. Remember to include at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday to stay healthy and hydrated this summer! Think wisely and choose foods and drinks that help to keep your body healthy despite the heat and remember to take the help of an experienced nutritionist for better personalised advise.