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    Mission To Wellness With Daryl Moss: Foods To Cool You In The Summer Heat!

    We can’t control the weather, but we can control what we eat and drink, and what we eat and drink can influence how we handle the weather. There is a reason we are naturally drawn to lighter foods in the summer. Foods with a high water content are naturally cooling and hydrating (really important in the heat), and fortunately, there is a wonderful selection of these foods available at this time of year.  


    Why are these foods so helpful? Not only are these fruits and vegetables filled with water, but they also contain vital vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, as well as fiber.   


    These are some of my favorites, but almost all summer produce has a high water content:


    • Cucumber: Remember that old expression “cool as a cucumber”? There is something to it. Cucumbers are mostly water, are full of fiber, and contain a surprising amount of vitamins. The latest research is showing that cucumbers may help regulate blood sugar. Sunburn a problem? Slice the cucumbers and put them on your skin. 
    • Celery: Celery is often thought of as being mostly water, but it, too, is high in nutrients and fiber. Celery is also really good for digestive issues due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also high in anti-oxidants. (I add a stalk to my smoothies every day!) 
    • Watermelon: This aptly named fruit is mostly water, but it is an excellent source of lycopene, vitamins A and C, and the seeds are full of iron and zinc. Go for the old-fashioned red variety, and make sure it is fully ripe before eating. 
    • Leafy Greens: Greens have a high water content and are also full of the vital nutrients our bodies need. Most of us need greens as a major part of our diets. Kale is considered a superfood, and collard greens have more bio-available calcium than cow’s milk! 
    • Melons, Citrus Fruits, Berries, Grapes: These all have a high water content and are full of vitamins and nutrients. Go for the locally grown fruits while they are in season.  


    It is not only the water content that helps us stay cool!


    • Hot Peppers: It may seem counterintuitive, but hot peppers contain capsaicin. This is a naturally occurring chemical that makes us sweat so that our bodies can naturally regulate their temperature. The sweating opens our pores and lets the heat out. These peppers also contain some vitamins and minerals but are not suitable for all of us to eat.  (People with acid reflux, GERD, and some inflammatory issues, might want to avoid  hot peppers.) When cooking with them, I suggest wearing gloves☺. 
    • Radishes: Popular natural coolants in many types of cuisines, radishes come in several varieties. They are high in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. As with peppers, their natural heat helps open our pores so that our bodies can regulate our temperature. They can also help regulate blood sugar, among other benefits. Radishes can be eaten raw or cooked; the cooked versions do not have as strong a flavor. The greens are also really nutritious. I like to saute them with garlic in olive oil.


    You may notice that this is a vegetarian list. Meats are harder to digest and force the body to work harder. This does not help the internal cooling mechanism.


    And what about liquids?


    Of primary concern is that we drink plenty of clean, filtered water every day. The hotter the day, the more we need to drink to replenish what we have lost due to perspiration. Water also helps us stay cool, focused, and mentally alert. On summer days when I am spending a lot of time outside, I add coconut water to my smoothies. Coconut water is full of naturally occurring electrolytes. Look for organic brands with no added sugar. For the vast majority of us, this is a much healthier choice than a sports drink.


    Interestingly, there is research on the benefits of drinking both cold and hot liquids to help cool the body naturally. So many of us automatically reach for a very cold glass of water or other beverage to help cool us down on hot days, but we may want to rethink that reaction. For digestion, our bodies have to work hard to bring the temperature of the liquid up to our body temperature. Hot liquids actually open our pores, just as with hot peppers and radishes, and that lets some of our internal heat escape. After our sweat evaporates, we naturally cool down. On the other hand, in addition to cooling off, it is vital to stay hydrated, and for many people, cold water or other beverages are more inviting. Hot, cold, or room temperature, make sure that you drink up!


    To get started, here is a favorite recipe from my summer barbecues:


    Watermelon Salad




    • ½ watermelon (probably about 8 cups), either balled or cubed 
    • 2 cups mint, chiffonade 
    • 1 medium red onion, diced 
    • 3 limes, juiced and zested 
    • Approx. 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


    Mix watermelon, mint, and red onion in a large bowl.


    Pour lime juice, zest, and olive oil into a small jar.  Shake well, taste, and add more lime juice or olive oil if needed.

    Pour over watermelon mixture, stir, and serve.


    Note: If you eat dairy, you can add goat or cow feta, for a more complex flavor.


    This recipe is gluten-free.


    Plant Foods for Human Nutrition

    Medical News Today


    Daryl Moss is the Founder of Mission To Wellness, a Nutritional, Health, and Wellness Coaching Service located in New York. Through individual one-on-one counseling as well as group sessions (all available virtually), she works with clients to provide concrete support and guidance as they journey toward better health and wellness. Due to her own serious health issues, she slowly changed the way she ate and was eventually able to get off of prescribed drugs and return to a completely normal life. Realizing the incredibly powerful effect food had on her body (both positive and negative), she went back to school and set out on a new career. She specializes in dealing with digestive issues, gluten-free diets, and weight loss.