Summer is nearing, and here’s how you can prep your pantry
As we enjoy the last of the pleasant days before the onslaught of summer, JustHere spoke to dietitians on the best foods to stock up on over the next few months.
Eating smart can have a cooling effect on your body, while eating the wrong kind of foods can make you feel run down, tired and sluggish. The golden rule is to ensure your diet contains hydrating foods; and refrain from foods loaded with sugars.
Fruits containing high water content are very useful when you need to stay cool for the summer. They are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants that your body yearns for during hot weather. “They are of utmost importance because they contain vitamins like B1 and B2 which are responsible for the metabolism processes in our bodies. The chemical components of water based fruits aid digestion hence make us feel less exhausted as well as replenish the fluids and nutrients lost during summer heat,” says Dr. Khaled Al Mokdem, a Doha-based Senior Dietitian in VLCC wellness clinics.
It doesn’t matter how you eat them – raw, toss them in a fruit salad or add them to some yogurt. These include but are not restricted to grapes, apples, pears, peaches, berries, cantaloupe and watermelon. Watermelon is the king of all the summer fruits; being composed of 90% water, thus keeps you super hydrated in the heat. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits and lemons also have a splendid cooling effect.
While including veggies in your diet is a very healthy practice in general, it is exceptionally beneficial in summer. Vegetables like cucumbers, sweet peppers, lettuce and leafy greens do the trick as they all contain a significant amount of water which assist your body in releasing heat.
“The greener the veggies are, the richer it is in magnesium, nitrogen and chlorophyll. This is mostly found in cucumbers and sweet peppers. These veggies’ chemical components ease the body’s cell regeneration that happens every 30-35 days, hence we feel less exhausted and more capable to face summer heat,” says Dr. Khaled. So a fresh salad that includes all the above will feel like magic. If you need a warm vegetable meal go for for lighter cooking options like steamed veggies and ensure it has lots of sweet peppers.
Spices in the summer? Well, yes! Spicy foods are a great way to beat the heat. It is not a mere coincidence that people in hot regions of the world like India and Thailand favour spicy food. Add a bit of fresh ginger, red chili and black pepper to your food.
“Spices can stimulate heat receptors in the mouth, enhance circulation and cause sweating, which ends up cooling the entire body down. Moreover, spices induce secretions in both your mouth and digestive system that aids digestion. It also increases metabolism which helps us cope with heat. Just don’t go overboard with the spices,” Dr. Khaled explains.
It not only smells and tastes good, it also provides an instant cooling sensation. “The reason is the high percentage of magnesium and chlorophyll mint contains. The trick is to eat it cold. When you boil mint leaves, it loses almost 50% of its benefits. Just add few fresh leaves to any snack or drink, you will feel the difference,” he adds.
Raw yogurt & raw Laban “Rayeb”
“These help your body feel fresher and cools your system due to the yeast content which aids digestion. It is advisable to include it in your breakfast,” says Dr Khaled.
Limit junk food and sugar intakes
Your body is under a lot of pressure when it is hot. Digesting heavy foods is the last thing you should inflict on yourself. “For everything we eat, our body needs energy to burn. The fatter the food is, the more oxygen and energy it requires to be digested and hence the more effort our bodies exert. So it is preferable to opt for healthy light meals when the mercury soars and avoid greasy meaty foods. Foods high in fatty acids and sodium tend to dehydrate your skin, making it dry,” he explains.
Ice cream myth busted
While it is a common practice that people associate ice cream with summer, research proves the opposite. “It has been proven that it should be consumed in cold weather because it gives energy and makes you warm. The truth is it only gives a cooling effect in your mouth, but once eaten it heats up your system,” says Dr Khaled.