Top Foods and Lifestyle Tips To Beat the HeatwaveLuke Coutinho
As you read this, India is experiencing a heatwave in more than 15 states. Some of these states are recording temperatures as high as 45 degrees. And while many of us still have the luxury of working from home, others need to step out and brave this heat to earn a living. What are some simple tips to keep in mind and share with your loved ones to protect themselves from this extreme heat? Let us explore.
The mercury is rising. Photo Credits: Freepik
If we were to play a word association game right now, the first thing that would come to mind the minute someone says summer is – dehydration. With dehydration come skin problems, migraines/headaches, rapid heartbeat, confusion, loss of appetite, and complete blackouts, among other health issues. Many people also experience muscle cramping, numbness, and tingling on waking up. If these are persistent, they can point to something serious. But in most cases, these are warning signs of dehydration.
And while we are talking about how dehydration affects you, here is a truth bomb. Whether it is summer or not, most of us are dehydrated. We live and work in air-conditioned environments so much that we often forget to drink or even track our water intake. We do not keep ourselves hydrated as much as we need to. And even a single percent drop in this hydration can upset the entire electrolyte balance in the human body. Electrolytes are crucial for various processes in the human body. They help you conduct nerve impulses. So, if you want to keep your neurological health thriving, you need the right amount of electrolytes in your body.
Similarly, electrolytes help muscle contraction. When you experience stiff muscles, your muscles need to contract and relax. Electrolytes help you do this. Only when this happens efficiently can your muscles grow and protect themselves from injury and inflammation.
Electrolytes also help your body stay hydrated. So even if you don’t have the right amount of electrolytes or the right balance to be specific, your body will not be able to utilize the water that you drink. Your electrolytes also help you to balance your pH levels. Some people think maybe we should get onto alkaline diets. But if you have an electrolyte imbalance, it will not work.
How do we lose electrolytes? How can we balance them?
Are you hydrated in the heatwave? Photo Credits: Freepik
When you sweat a lot, especially in the summers, you lose various minerals and electrolytes. Sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and bicarbonates – are important for the efficient working of your electrolyte system. So, focus on maintaining these levels.
When someone experiences low sodium levels – they get delirious, stop sweating, are in a state of confusion, and their speech becomes unclear. But the moment their sodium levels are bumped up, these symptoms get under control.
Similarly, people with low potassium levels need it to be rebalanced immediately to maintain their heart health. Some people with low magnesium levels wake up with stiff calves and struggle with body pain throughout today. All you need to do is balance their magnesium levels.
The key to balancing your electrolytes in harsh summers is to prevent dehydration. Now how do we do this? Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate. Keep drinking water. Don’t overdo or underdo it.
What are some cooling foods to include in your meals to stay hydrated during the heatwave?
1. Lemon water: Squeeze lemon into your water if it suits you. Lemon water helps you balance your electrolytes. If you know that you will be exposed to the hot climate and tend to sweat a lot, add a little bit of salt (pink salt preferably) and organic jaggery to your lemon water. It is an excellent sports drink in the summers. If you have high blood pressure issues, ensure that you do not consume refined white salt. But you can have a little bit of pink salt. Pink salt is potassium chloride, whereas white salt is sodium fluoride. Depending on your deficiency or the imbalance of electrolytes in your system, make an informed choice.
Nimbu pani. Photo Credits: Unsplash
2. Summer fruits: We keep telling people to try to not eat what their climate does not give them. What are some powerful and hydrating summer fruits that you can leverage to beat the heat? Some examples include watermelon, muskmelon, mangoes, lychee, oranges, papaya, guava, plums, grapes, bael, and so on. Even if your water intake is low, the water content of these fruits can be cooling for your body.
3. Bananas: These are a rich source of potassium and high in water content. It is every athlete’s favorite food. If you think that bananas are going to make you fat, you need to change your mindset again. Of course, those with diabetes need to ensure they eat fruits the right way and keep portion control in mind.
4. Cucumbers: They are high in water content and cooling for your body. Munch on a cucumber, add it to your raw vegetable juice, smoothies, or even whip a soup. Try this recipe for a refreshing cold cucumber soup ready in less than 10 minutes with zero cooking. You can also try making infused cucumber water that is highly alkaline for your system.
5. Desi dairy drinks: If dairy suits you and you do not have lactose intolerance – you can also try curd, buttermilk (chaas), or lassi. These summer drinks have existed in our Indian tradition and culture for centuries. We advise you to consume these during the day and not after sunset. Consuming these after sunset makes you vulnerable to colds and coughs. A tip to keep in mind while making these traditional drinks: Avoid adding refined sugar. It can mess up the health benefits.
6. Bottle gourd: Also known as dudhi or lauki, bottle gourd has a 90 percent water content. You can make sabzi, curry, soup, or even a healthy dessert. Check out this delicious bottle gourd curry recipe.
7. Fenugreek seeds: One of the quickest ways to reduce heat in your body is to consume fenugreek or methi seeds. It does not taste good raw and can be quite bitter. A simple way to consume this is by soaking the seeds for an hour or two and biting into them once they turn a little soft. If you are not a fan of biting into the seeds, you can grind raw methi seeds into a powder, mix it with water, and drink it.
8. Coconut water: It is nature’s incredible gift to man. Coconut grows through all seasons and is adored especially in the summers. Consume fresh coconut water during the day. It not only aids hydration but is a powerhouse of nutrients. It is rich in potassium, low in calories, fat and cholesterol-free, and rich in antioxidants that cleanse your system. If you have a kidney condition or are pregnant, avoid drinking it. Always make an informed decision.
9. Sugarcane juice: It is super hydrating for the human body. Before you think it will give you diabetes or make you fat, know this. Nature’s bounties don’t make us fat or prone to disease, our poor lifestyle does. Sugarcane has natural-occurring sugar and a low glycemic index. It is an excellent energy booster and improves your digestive, oral, bone, and skin health, too.
10. Fennel seeds: Also known as saunf, fennel seeds are powerful for your digestive system. They aid you in digesting your food quicker and thereby reduce your overall body heat. When your digestion is slow, you produce more acids and in turn more body heat for longer durations. A good digestive system is measured by how fast and how efficiently your body can break down food with minimum energy spent and less heat.
11. Sattu: I call sattu the great Indian protein shake. Sattu is nothing but your Bengal gram or chana dal flour which is roasted and mixed with a little cumin powder or even coriander. This superfood has existed in our country for decades. A cooling agent that naturally brings down your body temperature, sattu is also a pure protein source and rich in fiber, calcium, iron, manganese, and magnesium. Check out the many benefits of sattu and how to consume it here.
The poor man’s protein. Photo Credits: Freepik
12. Chilies: Some people may think chili is hot for summer. But chili is cooling for the human body. Many states in India have raw onion and green chili with every meal. Chilies are rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, rich in vitamin C (good for immunity), and improve your digestive health. Does this mean you should overdo it? Certainly not. Moderation is key.
13. Sabja or sweet basil seeds: Sabja seeds or sweet basil seeds work as a natural coolant for the body. It is an excellent food to deal with heat waves. If you are struggling with acidity in the summers, it will soothe your stomach lining. Soak it for four to five hours in water and add it to a range of drinks like falooda, lemon water, coconut water, smoothies, shakes, yogurt, and so on. Learn more about its benefits and how to make a sabja refresher at home here.
14. Kokum: Summer fruit Garcinia indica or kokum is one of the most adored and refreshing drinks in summer. It alleviates body heat, prevents dehydration, and reduces the risks of heatstroke. It also stimulates your appetite and improves digestion. Make your kokum juice, add kokum to season curries, or even make the delicious post-meal Konkani beverage sol kadhi.
Download our Summer Special Booklet for FREE: Quick and Easy Drinks and Cold Soups To Beat the Heatwave
Other tips to protect yourself from the heatwave
- Avoid staying out in the sun between 12 noon and 3 pm if possible because that is when the heat is at its peak. If you have to be out, cover your body and face. Wear a cap. Try to walk or stand in the shade as far as possible.
- Do not move from a cold environment straight into the blazing sun. A lot of people fall sick because of this. Your immune system immediately fluctuates when you walk out of a freezing air-conditioned room into the sun. Acclimatize by balancing your temperature first.
- If you are dry fasting, do this with an informed judgment. If you are exposed to the sun and your water intake drops – dry fasting will become extremely harmful for you. You will get zero benefits if your body starts becoming dehydrated. Want to practice dry fasting? Do it scientifically. Honor your building and elimination phase. Ensure you do not have even a single percent drop in your water levels in the building phase. Learn more pointers to keep in mind while dry fasting here.
- Your clothing is important. Most people wear workout and exercise clothing which are dry fits and made of synthetic material. These clothes do not allow your skin to breathe freely. The idea of dressing in summers must prioritize breathing space for your skin. Wear pure cotton clothes and undergarments as far as possible.
- If you are home for long hours, avoid wearing tight bras and underwear that cut out your lymphatic flow. Just wear loose clothing or boxers. While sleeping at night, wear the least possible clothing or sleep naked if you can. If you are uncomfortable sleeping naked or have privacy issues, wear organic cotton clothing. Remember, you entered the world without your clothes. And yes, while we need to wear clothes during the day, you need to let your skin have enough surface area to breathe and cleanse itself.
ALSO READ: You Need to Stop Wearing Tight Bras and Underwear. Here’s Why
Educate your little ones about the importance of being hydrated. They play a lot in the sun during their summer vacations and often forget to drink water. This can be detrimental to health in the heatwave. Keep reminding them to drink and track their water intake. Encourage them to eat water-rich vegetables and fruits.
Educate and empower your kids with these tips too. Photo Credits: Freepik
Again it all boils down to simplicity. The beauty is in eating a balanced rainbow meal in addition to all the other tips we gave you. When you are on a fad diet that does not allow you to eat certain fruits or vegetables high in water content, you tend to become more vulnerable to diet dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes.
Be safe throughout the summer. Spread this message and share these tips with everyone to protect them from the heatwave.
WATCH NOW: How to deal with a heatwave?
From a pimple to cancer, our You Care Wellness Program helps you find a way
Talk to our integrative team of experts today
Leave a Reply