Summer can really drive you up the wall and apart from heat strokes and dehydration, uncharacteristic high temperatures can increase acidity in your body and disturb the pH balance. Summer can disturb your baseline biology as well as affect your homeostasis and digestion.
As per Ayurveda, summer is a good time for cleansing, sweating and pushing out toxins from the skin. Food, therefore, can play a very vital role in terms of keeping the body calm, cool and relaxed. So, let’s have a look at some foods to be consumed to keep our body cool and hydrated. Most fruits and vegetables available in summer months are high in water content and nutrients. So have them aplenty but do include the following:
1) Bael or stone apple: This fruit is a summer time staple. It helps to keep the body cool while being packed with essential nutrients. Bael has numerous therapeutic advantages, is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial in nature.
2) Basil seeds: Also known as sabja seeds, these have a cooling effect on the body. They can easily be added to refreshing summer drinks like nimbu paani or gulkand sherbet or kokum juice.
3) Betel leaves: Commonly known as paan leaves, they are often eaten after meals. They help ward off heat, lower body temperatures and cool the body. A nice summer drink can be made using betel leaves, mint and fennel seeds.
4) Buttermilk: A thin consistency of buttermilk made with black salt, asafoetida and cumin powder is extremely refreshing, soothing and a great digestive when had in hot afternoons, especially post lunch.
5) Coconut water: It provides the essential electrolytes needed to prevent heat stroke.
6) Cucumber: The high water content makes cucumber an excellent coolant. It is used in making a variety of summer recipes, including juices, raitas and cold soups.
7) Fennel seeds: They have a refreshing taste and a naturally cooling effect on the body. Fennel seed infused drinks can help to cool down the body and provide relief from the summer heat.
8) Grape: A juicy summer fruit, it is rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients. Grapes can help protect the skin from sunburn.
9) Guava: A commonly found tropical fruit that is high in nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and magnesium.
10) Gulkand: Made from rose petals, it is known to have a cooling effect on the body and is often used to alleviate heat-related issues such as sunstroke and dehydration.
11) Ice apples or tadgolas: This fleshy and juicy fruit is known to have a good balance of micronutrients, which help maintain electrolyte and fluid balance. They can prevent dehydration and help maintain the body temperatures during summer months.
12) Kokum: It is a natural coolant which can wind down the entire system in no time and bring relief from the scorching heat.
13) Litchi: It is a well-liked summer fruit that is sweet, juicy and packed with antioxidants and minerals like potassium, magnesium and Vitamin C, all of which offer a variety of health benefits.
14) Lemon: A good source of vitamin C, lemons are used to make numerous summer drinks. They are extremely refreshing and help keep the body alkaline and cool. Adding orange rind or mint leaves in lemon water makes a great infusion drink for the day.
15) Mangoes: These are a powerhouse of many nutrients which increase immunity and help prevent heat stroke.
16) Mint leaves: Mint-infused water with cucumber slices or orange rind make for refreshing and energising drinks in hot months.
17) Muskmelons: They are alkaline in nature and balance acid levels.
18) Oranges: These are rich in potassium, a vital nutrient that is often lost during summers through sweat.
19) Pineapple: A powerhouse of nutrients like vitamin C and potassium with anti-inflammatory properties, it is one of the best fruits to be consumed for hydration in summer.
20) Star Fruit: This sour fruit is loved by most, especially when eaten with a little salt. It is juicy and packed with Vitamin C and antioxidants that help ease heat-related stress on the body.
21) Watermelon: Almost 90 per cent of this fruit is water, which helps in hydrating the body.
Limiting the use of oily and spicy foods during summer months will further help to keep body temperature down. Including local, seasonal and regional foods can regulate body temperatures and ensure well-being.
(Dr Mehta has trained Bollywood superstars Akshay Kumar, Preity Zinta, billionaires, politicians, Miss World/Miss Universe candidates and the Maharashtra Police. A best-selling author, his latest book is called ‘Weightless.’ He has been appointed FIT India Movement Champion by the Sports Authority of India)