Summer promises possibilities. When we think of summer, we think of ice creams, swimming pools, summer camps, road trips, sessions of gully cricket under the sun, and the list goes on and on. But due to the scorching summer heat, one can easily feel more drained and demotivated than usual, and there’s a very good reason for it.
Our body has natural mechanisms to disperse metabolic heat — heat generated by our body’s internal processes. However, a great deal of stress can occur when the body is exposed to excessive external heat for prolonged periods of time. In fact, hot environments are linked to increased irritability and the loss of ability to do heavy work and mental or skilled tasks.
And with the summers seemingly getting warmer — March 2022 was the hottest March India has endured since record-keeping began — its impacts are only getting worse. But the solution to this problem isn’t to just curl up in our air-conditioned homes till the season is over.
A better, more enjoyable alternative exists, in the form of tasty and nutritious food that can actually help keep our bodies cool. While we can’t prescribe one diet for all, here is a list of Indian summer foods to help your body beat the heat:
Fruits with high water content
Your body uses sweating as a mechanism for controlling its temperature. This means that it loses a lot of water during summers, leading to feelings of fatigue. In order to counteract this, fruits such as watermelon, berries, grapefruit, pineapples and mangos are recommended. These are loaded with ridiculously high amounts of water (watermelon is over 90% water!) and are packed with antioxidants that protect your body from harmful residues and boost your immunity.
Coconut water is quintessential summer memorabilia. We see vendors selling these at every corner and fruit shop, especially if you live in South India. Apart from being a great tasting drink that revitalizes you extremely well, coconut water contains many essential nutrients and helps you maintain your body’s electrolyte balance.
Leafy vegetables such as Kale and Spinach are excellent sources of Vitamin C and naturally contain a lot of water in them. They are easy to digest and take little energy by the body to process, which in turn keeps you cool. In order to maximize the benefits when consuming your leafy vegetables, avoid overcooking them as that will lead to a loss of water content in the final dish.
From thayir saadam to raitha to mishti doi, curd has been a staple of Indian cuisine for a long time. Apart from being a side dish that just keeps on giving, curd is an excellent coolant for the body. Additionally, homemade curd is a great probiotic that promotes gut health and digestion, strengthens bones, and is great for people with lactose intolerance.
Moong sprouts are packed with healthy nutrients, and are very tasty additions to salads and chaats. Further, they are one of the best sources of plant protein and are believed to have properties that protect against heat stroke. Combine it with cucumber, cilantro and lemon to have a killer salad!
We know how hard it is to go without having a curry to add to our daily diet. While many traditional curries tend to be extremely rich and use many hot spices, many healthy summer alternatives do exist. Make curries out of yoghurt bases with seasonal ingredients such as mangoes, jackfruit and pumpkins to make the best of both worlds!
Meats are generally not recommended during summers, as the body produces a lot of heat while 0breaking them down. But if you still insist on it, stick to fish! Make sure you use cooling herbs and spices during the cooking process, such as lemons and peppermint. Be sure to avoid deep frying your meals.
Ghee is rich in healthy fats and many vitamins. Several Ayurvedic practices insist on ghee as an ingredient during summer months. It cools your body during summer, and serves as a great addition to a host of traditional Indian cuisines.
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