The summer weather is great for many things—mangoes, beach days, vacations and visiting nani ka ghar. Sounds perfect, right? As much as this picture-perfect idea of summer seems appealing, the reality of a desi summer is breathing in hot humid air, sweating through your clothes, exercising before the sun comes up or after it goes down, and feeling tired, dehydrated and sluggish during the workouts.
Nutrition Therapist Rasika Parab of Fortis Hospital, Mumbai, shares 10 tips that will help you stay energised throughout the day, and even when you workout.
1. Recognise the need for nutrition & hydration change during summers
As the summer’s get brutal day by day, one needs to be very conscious regarding one’s health and wellbeing. The high heat of the summer season leads to various health hazards like excessive sweating, headache, fatigue, nausea, acidity, reflux and muscle cramps. Raised body temperature causes water loss which leads to dehydration. Severe dehydration needs medical help. The body is unable to maintain blood pressure in a dehydrated state. Blood pressure drops with raised body temperature, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.
2. Hydration should be about more than just drinking water
It is extremely essential to keep our body well hydrated in the summer season, as water helps in regulating body temperature and blood pressure. Being well hydrated keeps you going throughout the day without any fatigue, mood swings. A few substitutes for water during the summer season:
- Unsweetened fresh fruit juices
- Nariyal Paani
- Kokum Sherbat
- Sauf ka Sherbat
- Jeera water
- Aam Panna
3. Be clever with your pre- and post-workout snack options
One needs to be very careful while selecting pre-workout and post-workout meals. Hydration is essential throughout the exercise period. One should always try and have a combination of proteins and carbohydrates (for e.g. a glass of fruit milkshake) 45 minutes before a work out session, whereas post-workout we should grab an easily digestible form of carbohydrate for instant energy (for e.g. fruit juice). A combination of carbs and protein helps one sustain energy throughout the workout session.
4. Eat hydrating foods throughout the day
Here are a few foods that help during the heat of the summer season:
- Water and fluids: Maintaining the water and pH level of the body is extremely crucial and hence summer season demands plenty of water and fluid intake. It includes plain water, nariyal paani, nimbu paani, jeera water, sauf ka sherbat, kokum sherbat, cold milk, buttermilk/chaas, amla juice, fruit juice and more. Sipping on lemon water added with basil leaves & a pinch of salt, and chewing fresh sugarcane would be a good option to deal with the summer temperature as these are natural coolants
- Coconut water: It is a natural diuretic and also one of the richest sources of potassium & other minerals. It helps in excreting toxins out of the body.
- Cold milk: It helps to absorb the excess acid produced in the stomach, and also helps to deal with acidity symptoms. Adding 1tbsp of chia seeds (subja) in cold milk gives the best result for those suffering from acidity
- Curd and buttermilk: These are the best-known probiotics. They keep our gut healthy by protecting the lining of the stomach. They improve the overall digestion of what we eat. It’s always recommended to include dahi, raita, and buttermilk in daily diet.
- Fruits: They are not just natural antioxidants but power boosters of vitamins and minerals. The water content, potassium, magnesium, and fibre from fruits make them special. Fruits like amla, guava, oranges, sweet lime are rich in vitamin c. Though they are sour, they don’t aggravate the acidity symptoms. Vitamin c actually helps in treating acidity and also helps to boost our immunity. Summer fruits like mangoes are also very rich in vitamin c. Iceapple (tadgola), white jamun (jaam), muskmelon, watermelon are sources of potassium & magnesium which help to maintain the hydration levels of the body. Choosing seasonal as well as colourful varieties of fruits is recommended to get the benefits of its natural antioxidants and power boosters.
- Vegetables: Dudhi (Bottle gourd), padwal, pumpkin, cabbage, cauliflower are also beneficial due to their high content of water and minerals. Special mention here goes to cucumber as it helps in hydration. Capsicum is also known to have a neutralising effect on stomach acids. Varieties of salads and cold vegetable soups are recommended to be consumed during summer.
- Jaggery: It is known to be very effective because of its magnesium content. Magnesium in jaggery (gur) not only improves our immunity but also controls body temperature. Plain jaggery water would be a good help to treat acidity symptoms.
5. Avoid dehydrating foods that will irritate your stomach and cause more heat in the body
Excessive consumption of tea, coffee, and alcohol increases acidity and reflux problems which are commonly observed in summers due to dehydration. Spices like red chilli, green chilli, pepper powder, mint and chocolates are known acid-producing agents, hence it’s always better to avoid these if you are suffering from acidity issues. Alternatively, use ginger, garlic, turmeric (haldi), cumin seeds (jeera), cinnamon (elaichi) to add flavour to our food.
6. Fruits are versatile and can be eaten throughout the day in various forms
You may include fruit salads, fruit yoghurt, fruit juice, milkshake, homemade fruit jellies or ice creams, fruit coolers, ice cubes of fruit pulp to avail nutrition benefits of fruits in your daily diet.
7. Stay away from aerated drinks & a fatty diet
People generally opt for aerated beverages very frequently to quench the thirst but we must stay away from all types of aerated beverages. The phosphate content of an aerated beverage is very high, which harms our bones. It interferes with calcium absorption and makes the bones very brittle and weak. The intake of oily food needs to be limited as oily and fatty food leads to delayed stomach emptying, hence may lead to acidity.
8. Keep a healthy snack & a hydration drink in your bag if you’re on-the-go
Food being thy medicine, we must be very watchful about what we eat, how helpful, and healthy food could be!
- We should always carry a bottle of cooling drink in our bag to sip in between, to maintain a good hydration and electrolyte balance. The cooling drink may include chaas, fruit juice, subja water, nimbu paani, mint-ginger water
- Always snack smartly. We can have a bite of cold snacks like sandwiches, fruit salads, cucumber yoghurt, carrot barfi, oats-almond bar, fruit creams, fruit and nut falooda, dry fruit chikki, peanut laddoo to take care of our hunger during this hot season
9. Watch out for signs of dehydration and low blood sugar
The signs of dehydration or low blood sugars in our body could be:
- Excessive sweating
- Mood swings
- Lack of concentration
10. Remember The 5 Basic Rules For A Healthy Summer
The dietary habits to include are:
- Hydration: We must be careful about our daily water intake. Up to 3 -4litres of water per day is recommended
- Include more fruits and vegetables: Include lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables as a part of our daily routine to get the benefits of Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants
- Milk and milk products: Include a good quantity of milk, curd, paneer, and buttermilk
- Stay away from junk food: We must minimize the intake of fast foods to stay fit
- Opt for less oily foods: Oily or deep-fried food delays our stomach emptying and hence may leave an effect of bloating, also may give rise to acidity & hence should be avoided