Making certain choices on a hot day can make a difference
During the “dog days of summer” it’s smart to get creative about ways to stay cool. We all find ourselves drawn to a tall glass of something iced, but you might not know there are other, more strategic ways to think about what you eat and drink. The next time you’re looking to beat the heat, here are a few items to enjoy that you might not have thought of:
1. Raw Fruits and Vegetables
There are many seasonal fruits and vegetables that can help keep you cool while providing the added bonus of supporting weight loss—and in some cases promoting hydration.
- Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens are tasty as well as healthy options. These vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, protein, and fiber. If you eat them raw, they also contain a significant amount of water, which can be helpful in replenishing the water your body loses through sweat. (Try massaging your raw kale with a little lemon juice, olive oil, or avocado to break down some of the chewy texture. It will keep in your fridge for days for easy snacking!) These foods also help replenish electrolytes lost in the summer heat.
- Zucchini is another vegetable to turn to all summer. It contains vitamin C and important phytonutrients, as well as the mineral called manganese. Manganese can help protect your body from free radicals, which are of concern during the summer months when you're more susceptible to sun damage. Manganese also promotes collagen production and healthy bones.
- Bananas are a sweet and naturally cooling fruit. By adding moisture and eliminating toxins, they’re thought to clear intestinal “heat.”
- Watermelon is a water-rich fruit—which you’ll know as soon as you cut into one. Eating this member of the melon family on a hot day provides a tasty treat and a cool-down at the same time. Try throwing some in a smoothie with some protein powder, mint, ice, and coconut water for a satisfying summer treat!
2. Hot Tea
In many countries where hot climates are a norm, hot tea is the drink of choice. While it may seem like the last thing that would appeal to you on a sweltering day, it turns out the sensation of the hot liquid soon passes and is outweighed by the beneficial action it triggers in your body: sweat! Your nerve endings will respond to a hot beverage with a message that it’s time to cool down. Under the right conditions, the more you sweat, the more heat gets purged from your body.
3. Spicy Foods
The chili peppers used in traditional spicy foods contain a chemical called capsaicin, which causes a reaction in your nervous that’s same as being exposed to high temperatures: it tells the brain about the need to put out the “fire.” When you consume this something spicy, it essentially “warms up” your digestive system. This triggers your body to start sweating to release some of that heat. You may have noticed that a lot of cultures in warmer climates feature these foods. They’re on to something!
The lesson here is, try some experimentation in your diet during the hottest days of summer, and see how your body reacts. A heat wave can be a great opportunity to expand your list of foods that you enjoy. You might surprise your family and friends, but you’ll be the coolest kid in the room!
This post is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health, located in Manchester, NH. Visit us online to learn more, or reach out to schedule a campus tour!