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