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  Diet & Nutrition

june 2011
Beat the Heat, with Summer Foods
Ishi Khosla
 

The long days of summer bring us warm, sunny days, vacations, and loads of different fruits and vegetables. Summers mark the entry of some typical fruits and vegetables including mangoes, peaches, plums, melons and squashes into our daily eating.Beat the scorching heat of the sun in summers with nature,s gifts.Here is a list of foods to be

Fluids and Electrolytes
Pure water is the best drink to quench thirst. Our body cannot store water, so one must drink plenty of it to replenish losses due to dehydration, excessive perspiration or strenuous exercise during elevated temperatures to maintain healthy function of body cells. The usual recommended amount of water intake for normal kidney functions is 6-8 glasses a day, but to make up for the sweat and other losses, especially during summers, this could mean even double. As much as two litres of water can be lost due to sweating in humid weather. For those who have a high threshold for thirst do not go by the thirst factor, make sure you drink enough water or you are at risk of developing renal stones or urinary tract infections.

Water losses can also be replenished by fluid intake through seasonal and fruit juices. Soups and beverages, cold soups like gazpacho are very refreshing. Beverages like lassi, aam ras, sattoo, jal-jeera, jamun and phalsa sherbet, nimboo pani, ginger ale, plum, rose sherbets, iced tea, kokum, plum juice, almond thandai, coconut water, soya milk shakes, smoothies, yoghurt drinks are useful to meet our increased water requirements during summers.

Electrolytes are the dissolved minerals present in our body cells. Potassium, sodium and chloride are the three most important electrolytes needed by us in right amounts for survival.

It is an important nutrient especially during summers to maintain the water balance and protect people from muscle cramps and dehydration.
  
Potassium rich foods:
  • Dried fruits: Raisins, prunes, apricots, dates
     
  • Fresh fruit: All fruits including bananas, strawberries,watermelon, cantaloupe, oranges
     
  • Fresh vegetables:Beets, greens, spinach, peas, tomatoes, mushrooms
     
  • Fresh juices: Vegetable and fruit juices
     
  • Sodium: During summers sodium requirements are generally higher due to sweat losses. Drinks with a bit of salt, black salt, chaat masala etc. can help as digestives and replenish sodium losses. Low sodium levels can cause cramps, dizziness, confusion and depression.
     
  • Chloride: It is essential to maintain the fluid balance in the body and for proper functioning of the body cells. Although some fruits and vegetables naturally contain chloride, however most of the chloride comes from salt.
Fruits and Vegetables
Vegetables and fruits in our daily lives act as a bonus, as they are the storehouse of all the essential nutrients right from antioxidants to a variety of vitamins and minerals. Besides being a storehouse of nutrients, fruits and vegetables also provide us with lots of water to replenish the water losses during the hot summer season. Almost 85 percent of fruits and vegetables is usually water.Some of the summer fruits and vegetables that help us to bear the rising mercury during summers are:
  • Watermelon:It is considered an ideal food for summers due to its high water content (90%) and sugar content (8%). Besides these, watermelon is a rich source of lycopene (disease protecting nutrient) and vitamin C. It also provides good amount of potassium that is required to maintain water balance especially during summers.
     
  • Summer Squash: It is 95 percent water and low in calories. Its juice is found to be useful for hyper acidity and cholesterol reduction.
     
  • Dry Fruits: Raisins, figs, apricots are high fibre foods, containing more fibre than most other fruit and vegetables.
     
  • Berries: Jamun, phalsa, shahtoot contain pigments (anthocyanin) that have beneficial effects on connective tissue and inflammation. Berries are also good sources of fibre, potassium and vitamin C.
Beverages
Many of us are unsure as to whether it’s fine to drink beverages with meals. The truth is that there is no need to separate beverages from solid foods. One has to sip in moderation. It is not advisable to drink copious amounts of water or cold drinks along with meals as it has been shown to suppress gastric secretion and impair digestion. A plain glass of room temperature water or some green tea or soup are fine with meals - better still a squeeze of lime or lemon can enhance iron and calcium uptake from food, besides adding vitamin C.

When calorie counting, go sugar free and use alternative sweeteners that taste just as good! Green tea and zeera dhania paani are especially useful in weight loss. Boost your immunity with the green power in cabbage, spinach, lemon, coriander,lauki and garlic cocktail. These go well beyond hydration to immune boosting, detoxifying and cleansing tonics. Create your own refreshing ones with these inspiring ideas and just chill.

Ishi Khosla is a Clinical Nutritionist and Director - Whole Foods India


    
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