SUMMER FOOD Written by Ace Nutritionist, Hena Nafis

Summers are going to get hotter. Going by predictions, this year is going to be one of the hottest summers ever. Until we get hold of the relentless, ongoing pollution and decrease in levels of global warming, all we can do is equip ourselves with foods which can help us beat the heat.
Common problems during summer:
• Dehydration
• Food and waterborne infections causing diarrhea and vomiting
• Fatigue
• Loss of appetite
Heat Cramps: Feels like a severe muscle pull and is caused by lack of salt in the body
Heat exhaustion: It is a condition in which, the body temperature rises to 102oF and is marked by extreme fatigue, dizziness, vomiting or fainting. It is caused when excessive heat and dehydration causes the body to overreact, resulting in high temperature.
Heat Stroke: It is a severe form of hyperthermia, with abnormally high body temperature (104oF and above). It is characterized by disorientation and loss of consciousness. It is a medical emergency and can prove to be fatal if not promptly treated.
So are we doomed with the oppressive summer coming our way? Not really. It brings along with sultry, blazing and killing heat, certain foods which can give us reprieve.
In intense heat, our bodies feel listless and tired because of loss of fluid, salt and minerals through sweat. These need to be replenished quickly. An effective way of doing it is to increase your intake of foods with minerals and a high water content to balance the deficit in the body.
The summer foods should fulfill three important criteria:
• Have a good water content
• Packed with minerals
• Should be easy to digest
Barley: Barley water is used as a soothing, cooling and calming recipe for patients having feverish conditions and gastric upsets.
Bael: The unripe Bael is most prized as a means of halting diarrhea and dysentery, which are prevalent in India in the summer months. It contains a chemical called psoralen in the pulp, which increases tolerance to sunlight and aids in maintaining normal skin colour. The fresh ripe pulp is used to make sherbet which improves digestion, is a good tonic and has mild laxative properties- water content is 54.9 -61.5g/100g
Chilled soups: On a hot summer day, boiling hot soups are unappealing and unappetizing. However, the day when the heat beats your appetite, you can fill yourself with chilled soups such as cucumber soups, gazpacho etc.
Cucumber: Cucumbers are very low in calories but high on water making them ideal food choice in summer. They are also high in silica an essential nutrient required by the skin and clears blemished skin (blemished skin is quite common during the summer because of the strong, scorching sun rays). Cucumbers provide relief from heat rashes too.
Curd: It provides you with friendly bacteria called probiotics which provides immunity against stomach infections which are common during the hot season. Have curd along with meals in the form of raita, kadhi, dips. When thirsty, have curd in the form of buttermilk, smoothies and lassis.
Guava: It is ideal fruit during the hot season because of its bacteria busting properties. Food and water-borne infections are very common during summers. A study has shown that guava can protect against food-borne pathogens such as Listeria and Staphylococcus infections.
Iced Tea: It is a refreshing drink. Besides cooling and hydrating your body it is full of antioxidants, which retards oxidative damage. The scorching heat damages the skin and produces fine lines and wrinkles. The polyphenols in tea boost heart health and blood circulation.
Juices: They are cooling and as well as nourishing. They are nutrient dense beverage providing vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They keep us hydrated and detoxed.
Lemon: Lemons are a boon during summer. It can, protect your body from getting several summer related ailments like boils, etc. lemon and honey combination has the power of instantly replenishing your body’s lost water and also work as energizers. They are used to make any salad tastier.
Mango: The only reason to celebrate summers is the availability of mangoes. Mangoes are full packed with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants and contain like all fruits very few proteins and fats. They are perfect to replenish salts, vitamins and energy after exhaustion and depletion caused by heat and humidity in the summer. The enzymes of the Mango, such as magneferin, katechol oxidase and lactase, clean the bowel of all toxic effects inside the body. They provide also sufficient resistance to fight any germs and afflictions. The enzyme magneferin displays a high antibacterial activity against gram positive bacteria. Mangoes contain also a lot of tryptophan, the precursor of the “happiness-hormone” serotonin.
Mint: Mint also contains a wide range of essential minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, potassium and calcium. In hot summer days, a glass of cold water with lime and a dash of mint in it can be very soothing and cooling. The menthol present in the mint facilitates good digestion and exerts anti-spasmodic action thus is effective in abdominal cramp caused by excessive heat.
Melon Mania: Both Watermelon and musk melon are a store house of water. These fruits have thirst quenching properties. One large wedge of watermelon provides 250 ml of water equivalent to 1 cup of water. Musk melon or cantaloupe have a relatively higher sodium content than other fruits making them an perfect choice when dehydrated, providing both water and salt to the sufferer.
Onion: The best summer diet solution would be to include large salads in your diet, onions are just great in summer, people of all hot countries in the world, include onion in their diets because of ability of onions to beat the heat and provide relief from summer ailments. Ideally your salads can contain onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. with a dash of fresh lemon juice to add the tang.
Salt: Adequate salt consumption is essential to cover for loss of minerals, salts and sugar through perspiration.
Water: It is an ideal coolant. Summer takes away all moisture inside our body, leaving it short on its regular water levels, therefore care should be taken to include those foods in our diets that offer lots of water as well as cool our bodies considerably. Getting plenty of fluids is essential to feeling energized, when the heat takes a toll on you.
Beverages: Avoid alcoholic beverages, caffeinated drinks like colas and coffee, which has diuretic properties causing further fluid loss.
Summer cocktails: Anything from ice cream drinks, iced coffee and margaritas to tropical cocktails is a potential calorie landmine. So, if you think of hydrating yourself with such fares, consider the calories.
Ice- Creams: When the weather warms up, ice cream is among the first things that pop into our minds. Ice-creams are calorie dense, high in saturated fat and can increase cholesterol. Have low-fat, low- sugar gelatos or frozen yogurt instead of full fat ice creams.
The sultry, sticky heat kills our appetite and is a blessing in disguise for those who are trying to shed weight. So, make the best out of this summer with a wide array of low fat fruits and vegetable choices.

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