Extreme temperatures and dry conditions cause a number of heat related health problems and staying fit in summer is everybody’s primary concern. The food and drink that you will be consuming during the summer are going to play a vital role to help you tide through the heat wave because even healthy people can succumb to heat-related health issues.
Excessive heat in the summer season is known to cause irritability, lack of concentration, physical exhaustion and sleep problems. Infants, elderly and people with chronic health problems are most at risk in the hot summer months.
Importance of Diet During SummerIn summer the risk of dehydration, indigestion, food poisoning and vitamin and mineral deficiencies increases. Hence go for food that is fresh, easily digestible and keeps your body cool Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables offer us protection from the sun as they contain high amounts of water and nutrients. Junk food like pizzas, burgers are a big “NO” and are best avoided in summer. You must plan to eat frequent small portions of food instead of large portions as they will be difficult to digest and you may end up feeling feel lazy, heavy and bloated.
With summer comes extreme thirst. You should increase your fluid intake to prevent getting dehydrated. It is advisable to drink water frequently even when you are not thirsty. Alcohol and beverages that are caffeinated, carbonated or high in sugar level are best avoided.
Foods to Eat in Summer
Curd and Butter Milk - They help you remain cool in the summer heat and are packed with calcium, protein and contain probiotics [beneficial bacteria] that keep your digestive system running smoothly. You can add a few fresh mint leaves, cumin powder and black salt to the buttermilk for an added zing.
Gooseberry (Amla) - It is a rich source of vitamin C and fiber. Studies show that it is a collagen booster, especially benefits heart and hair, and reverses the aging effects caused by strong sun rays. You can eat them raw, boiled or prepare amla juice by adding four fresh chopped amlas to a glass of water. Blend fresh gooseberry in a mixer, strain the liquid and add a tablespoon of honey and crushed ice for extra taste.
Tender Coconut Water - An ideal energy drink provided by Nature. It contains vitamins, minerals, calcium, potassium, magnesium in their natural form which replenishes the body with the nutrients lost due to sweating and dehydration.
Fresh Summer Fruits - Watermelon, musk melon, pears, papaya, plums, berries, apricots, cherries, mango, and oranges are found abundantly in the summer season. These fruits are chock- a- block with vitamins, minerals and fiber. They can be cut into small bites and eaten or consumed as juices and tasty fruit salads. Simply chop up a few fruits of your choice and sprinkle a little lemon juice on top to enhance the taste. The salads are best prepared fresh as they will lose their crunchiness if stored in refrigerator. You can also add finely chopped fruits of your choice to curd and sprinkle with cinnamon powder, basil seeds and dried fruits for a crunchy tasty dessert. Milkshakes prepared from mangoes and bananas are a favorite with children. You may also use coconut milk instead of dairy milk for variety in taste.
Fresh Summer Vegetables - These contain antioxidants which prevent cellular damage due to intense heat of the sun, vitamins and fiber which help improve heart health, lower cholesterol and prevent chronic diseases such as cancer. Tomatoes offer extra protection from the sun as they contain lycopene which prevents sunburn. Zucchini, cabbage, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower and cucumber are found in abundance during the summer months. Cucumber or tomato slices seasoned with some salt and pepper or mixed with other vegetables for a salad is a healthy way to cool off this summer. Toss it with olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of lemon to enhance the taste.
Dark, Leafy Greens - You can fill up on fresh spinach, kale, turnip greens, drumstick greens and mustard greens in summer to protect skin from sun damage. They decrease sensitivity to UV light and mend flaky and dry skin, strengthening the skin's defence against the damaging rays of the sun.
Sprouts – They are easy to digest and contain high levels of water and nutrients. They can be eaten alone or mixed in a salad or added to other vegetables. A water melon, pineapple, cucumber and sprout salad is a tasty way of beating the summer blues.
Foods to Avoid in Summer
Hot and Spicy Food - Though spices like chilli, nutmeg, mustard, pepper, ginger and cinnamon contain ingredients which are beneficial to our body, they should be used sparingly in summer as they boost the rate of metabolism and have a thermogenic effect on the body. It is advisable to avoid curry-based dishes as they too contain lots of oil and spices and may cause an upset stomach in summer.
Fried food, Junk food and Street Food - Deep fried fast food such as samosas, vada pav, bhajias, junk food, burgers, pizzas, french fries are difficult to digest in the summer months. These foods tend to make your digestion sluggish and negatively impact your overall health.
Non Vegetarian Foods - Foods such as red meat, mutton, and beef generate excessive body heat and are best avoided during summer. Also, meat gets contaminated easily in summer if it is not properly frozen and so it is a common cause of food poisoning in the summer season.
Tandoori Food - These foods are extremely popular, but the grilling and the spice mix used to flavor tandoori food is known to create gastric problems during the summer. Also, tandoori food is charred slightly to enhance the taste which may irritate the stomach lining.
Tea and Coffee - Caffeine which is present in both tea and coffee has a dehydrating effect on your body. Also, caffeine tends to heat up the body if taken in excess and may also affect your sleep.
Minimize Intake of Dried Fruits - Even though dry fruits are extremely healthy, they contain very less amount of water, very high content of sugar and are known to increase body heat. So, it is advisable to minimize the intake of dry fruits during summer and instead focus on fresh fruits.
Sauces and Processed Foods - These contain high levels of salt, preservatives and artificial flavourings which are harmful to your body.
Sugary drinks - Aerated drinks, sherbets, and packaged fruit juices lead to an increase in calorie intake and are a common cause for weight gain and diabetes. They also dehydrate our body and affect the kidneys.
Latest Publications and Research on Summer FoodsVariability and profiles of lipophilic toxins in bivalves from Great Britain during five and a half years of monitoring: Okadaic acid, dinophysis toxins and pectenotoxins. - Published by PubMed
Indirect N2O emissions with seasonal variations from an agricultural drainage ditch mainly receiving interflow water. - Published by PubMed
Increased exposure of plankton to arsenic in contaminated weakly-stratified lakes. - Published by PubMed
Juvenile coho salmon growth and health in streams across an urbanization gradient. - Published by PubMed
Hummingbird migration and flowering synchrony in the temperate forests of northwestern Mexico. - Published by PubMed