For a cool palate

BEAT THE HEAT Hydrating foods and a light diet are summer winners as they not only fill you up but are easy on the stomach, too, writes Anupama Menon

health

Summers aren’t always as happy as they seem on bikini bodies and crystal ocean waters. Whether humid or dry, summers scream the need for extra care to feel comfortable and cooler!

Summers also see the spread of infections that catch on quickly due to the heat, the increase in discomfort due to headaches caused by the merciless rays of the sun, skin tanning and damage, and lowered efficiency due to fatigue.

But life has to go on, so what’s the trick? Can some magic be worked into the summer heat to help us cope and energise our days? It’s all in our food. The food we eat determines how often we fall ill, how prone we are to infections and how far into the day we throw the towel in on our energy cells. We don’t need to fill our plates and pile high to induce energy, all we need to do is fill it right!

Antioxidants

Those little things that protect you from the bigger demons! All those foods that contain Vitamin A, C and E should see the light on your summer plate. The anti-oxidant properties in these vitamins will protect you from skin damage and rashes from within. Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties work three-fold, it improves your immunity and reduces your chances of infections that run amok during summers, protects the skin from the harsh rays of the sun and photoageing and also impressively inspires the production of collagen (a very important skin protein). And this is even more beneficial when combined with the prowess of Vitamin E. And hence citrus fruits, lemons, sweet potatoes, gooseberries, guava, almonds, sunflower seeds and spinach should be your best friends.

Those prone to asthma know how summers can bring out its worst face, summers and the humid climate, unfortunately, trigger asthma. But let’s call Vitamin D to the rescue. Specifically, Vitamin D’s antioxidant properties help to keep the symptoms of asthma at bay. Adequate exposure to the sun (not too much) and the right supplements can help bring your body on par with its requirements for Vitamin D. There are few foods that provide Vitamin D, hence include fish, egg yolks and mushrooms in your regular meals.

Immunity builders

Sultry summers can invite greater chances of the flu and other bacterial infections. So pay special attention to your immunity by taking Vitamin C supplements, lemon/gooseberry shots regularly. If your gut tends to take the slippery slope and risks the potential for bad behaviour, take a natural probiotic daily, beet kvass, fermented veggies, homemade yoghurt or even lacto fermented salsa. Under the recommendation of a medical practitioner, you could also choose an effective commercial probiotic. Other natural probiotic products available in the market are kimchi, sauerkraut or even kefir.

Sleep is an imperative partner in good health. Don’t skimp on sleep, it will only invite headaches, lower efficiency, and sickness in the garb of hot weather.

Besides, a host of fruits and vegetables like watermelon, grapes, spinach, berries, guava, coconut water, melons, onions, tomatoes, pumpkins, bell peppers, sweet corn, cucumber etc either cooked, juiced or eaten as salad can provide you with all the vitamins and antioxidants you need to boost immunity and beat the rough side of summer.

Energy boosters

Yoghurt, buttermilk, coconut water, bananas, fruit, vegetable smoothies and cold-pressed vegetable juices can significantly contribute to your energy pool for the day. The enzymes from raw foods and the larger concentration of micronutrients, especially potassium from cold-pressed juices and fruits is just what you need to boost your spirit and your day. Let the fatigue not deter nor the summer hinder your dreams or your pace!

Natural sunscreens

Sunscreens are needed topically during summer, but did you know that your body can make its own natural sunscreen? Melanin, produced in the skin, absorbs some of the harmful UV rays, thus providing natural protection to the skin.

Copper and the amino acid tyrosine, together, support optimal production of melanin, hence during the harsh summers and even otherwise, let your plate see a mix of almonds, cashews, eggs, organ meats, shellfish, spinach and cheese. Carotenoids are a group of antioxidant compounds seen in fruits and veggies that are between the shades of red, yellow, orange and green. They contain specific pigments called lycopene (most effective) and lutein which provide natural protection against sun damage. So those who tend to be more exposed to sun must make sure they drink a tall glass of tomato juice every single day. Other good sources of lycopene and lutein are papaya, watermelon, pink grapefruit, red carrots, dark green leafy veggies and broccoli.

Hydration

Last but not the least, stay hydrated with lots of water, as dehydration is dangerous and a strong possibility. Ice cold water from time to time can cool your body down, so stock up your freezer. Fruit ice cubes can add an interesting dimension to alkalising your water. Keep your rooms ventilated and use cottons and comfortable clothing to keep your days light and fresher! Enjoy your summer!

(The author is nutritionist & food coach)

Comments (+)