Summer makes our body crave for hydration. The extreme heat calls for special attention to the body, for many reasons. Staying fit in summer should be everyone’s top priority because even healthy people can be affected by dehydration and heat shock as extreme temperatures cause a number of heat-related health issues. So, it is extremely important to consume the right foods to stay hydrated.
Let’s talk about the top seasonal foods available in the tropical regions of India to beat the summer heat.
Cooling with fruits and vegetables
There are foods that are both refreshing and healthy to consume during summer. Fresh summer vegetables like cucumber, tomato, cabbage, bell pepper, broccoli, guard varieties and cauliflower are high in antioxidants as well as vitamins and fibre that reduce the damage caused by sun exposure, protect the heart, keep us hydrated and help battle chronic diseases. LYCOPENE, a compound responsible for the red colour in tomatoes and other fruits, prevents sunburn. Unlike any other nutrient, the amount of lycopene increases when cooked, making it an excellent choice for soups and salads during summer.
Seasonal Fruits like watermelon, muskmelon, pears, ice apple, berries, mangoes, and oranges are extremely beneficial because of their vitamins, minerals and fibre content. Ice apple (Nungu in Tamil) is super healthy and tasty with tender flavour and it is one of the traditional coolant fruits which you should never miss out on.
Refreshing natural energy drinks
Nowadays, many of us prefer readily available chilled sodas & carbonated beverages to quench our thirst. Research shows that sugary carbonated drinks contribute to a long list of health problems, which include cancer, diabetes, obesity, osteoarthritis and heart disease.
- Tender Coconut water – A perfect alternative provided by nature for summer is Tender Coconut Water. It contains vitamins, minerals and essential electrolytes which helps replenish the body’s nutrients lost through sweating and dehydration and make you feel refreshed.
- The king of fruits – One of the fondest memories of summer days is eating raw mangoes, without really understanding the nutritional perks. Raw mango prevents dehydration by stopping excessive loss of sodium chloride and iron from the body and reduces the effects of sunstroke. Aam panna is a drink with enticing sweet-sour-spicy flavours of fresh raw mango which is especially popular in North Western India.
- Buttermilk – Buttermilk helps keep you cool in the summer heat and is also rich in calcium, protein and contains probiotics that keep your digestive system running smoothly. You can make it a magic drink by adding some fresh mint leaves, ginger, cumin powder and coriander to improve digestion.
Detoxing in Summer – Right from the Kitchen Cabinet
Seeds like cumin (jeera), fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds and tulsi/ sabja seeds help cool your body by lowering body temperature. It is extremely beneficial to soak these seeds in water overnight and consume it in the morning.
Kulukki Sarbath is one of the best in Kochi which is made with lemonade added with sabja seeds, mint, Pineapple chunks and sugar which is a flavouring cooling agent.
What not to eat
It is not only important to consume certain foods but to also be aware of what should be avoided. Spices like chilli, mustard, pepper, ginger, and cinnamon contain ingredients that are beneficial to the body, though they should be used sparingly in summer. They boost the rate of metabolism and have a thermogenic effect on the body. It is advisable to avoid dishes that are oily or spicy as they tend to make your digestion sluggish and negatively impact your overall health.
Summer and the health of the Elderly
Ms. Keerthana Boopathi, Nutritionist and Health Coach, SafeGuard Family highlights concerns which affect the elderly during the summer. She says, “ Seniors and those with chronic medical conditions often have difficulty regulating their body temperature. This can make the summer months a dangerous time. Caffeine, present in both tea and coffee, has a dehydrating effect on the body, especially for the elderly. The only mantra to be practised during summer is to keep your body fresh and light”.
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