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Feeling dehydrated, fatigued and low on energy during the sweltering months could mean the heat has gotten the better of you. As seasons change, it is vital to revisit food choices and make changes to stay healthy. Foods that go well during winters might not work during the summer months. “Excessive summer heat is said to cause irritability, lack of concentration, physical exhaustion and sleep problems. Infants, elderly and those with chronic problems are more at risk,” says Simrun Chopra, a deep health coach and nutritionist based in Mumbai.

Signs of a heat stroke include high fever, a confused or altered mental state, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing, high heart rate, headache, muscle spasms in the arms, legs or abdomen, vertigo, weakness and excessive perspiration. Taking the right kind of food can keep all these at bay. According to Chandigarh-based nutritionist Pritika Bedi, “Be extra careful with your diet during summers. A well-balanced diet will keep you healthy and help avoid heat-related illnesses.”

Too hot to handle

Fried, junk and street food, such as samosa, burger, pizza and fries, can make your digestion sluggish. The same goes for hot and spicy foods, such as chilli, nutmeg, mustard, pepper, ginger and cinnamon. “These foods have a thermogenic effect on the body and should be kept to the minimum. Curry-based dishes with too much oil should also be avoided,” suggests Chopra. Similarly, red meat generates excessive body heat. Tandoori items can create gastric problems as the charring done to enhance their taste irritates the stomach lining.

A cool plate

During summers, it’s vital to have a variety of fluids in the form of coconut water, lime juice, fresh juice and green tea. Packaged juices, however, must be avoided as they are laden with sugar, says Bedi. Green vegetables, seasonal fruits, and fibre-rich foods must be included to ensure adequate nutrition.

Staying hydrated is the key and the ideal way to do this is to carry a water bottle around. Consuming water infused with mint, lemon or cucumber can prevent electrolyte imbalance. Add seasonal fruits and vegetables with high water content to your plate, such as melons, citrus fruits, cucumber, green leafy vegetables, onion, and celery. “Freeze fruits to make them last longer. This way, they will also give you a refreshing feeling when consumed,” recommends Chopra. “Fruits that freeze well are banana, grapes, melons and orange.” Add frozen fruits to curd to make a quick, healthy and lip-smacking snack. Both fruits and curd have a cooling effect on the body and help fight the summer heat.

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