I believe this topic is long overdue as the Hot British Summer just keeps on giving, however, who knew! I do hope it is not too late for the advice and that we keep being blessed with this glorious weather (that we are so not used to). When we prayed for summer in the winter months (for the past few decades at least), I do not think anyone expected our wish to be granted in such abundance this year.
My husband would say – be careful what you wish for. Now, many complain that it is too hot, however, let’s all admit – there is something rather refreshing waking up to a warm, sunny morning; it makes you want to wake up early and seize the day. I have been watering the plants at 7AM most mornings and that, in itself, has been refreshing and wonderful. Connection with nature from the word Go.
Back to our subject, when weather is hot, there are few things we need to bear in mind in order to keep our body well nourished and energised.
Evaporation of the sweat cools the skin, which in turn helps to cool the whole body and when weather is hot, we sweat more than usual, therefore drinking water is important as it helps replenish the fluids lost by excessive sweating. The combination of hot temperatures and dehydration can lead to serious heat-related illnesses. When you feel thirsty – you are already dehydrated, which can cause headaches, make us feel sluggish and generally with lack of energy. Lack of water also, as you know, causes digestive issues such as constipation.
The best way to stay hydrated is to drink water. It is free (well, tap water that is) and readily available and still the healthiest drink. Add some freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice to it and a regular glass of water becomes a rather refreshing drink without nasty sugars or sweeteners present in concentrated squash drinks. Avoid fizzy or sugary drinks not only during summer, but also in general. They are just bad news for our overall health.
Another great way to keep yourself hydrated is to drink hot teas such as green tea or mint tea. I avoid putting sugar in it or honey… have it just as it is, perhaps with a dash of lemon. Dash of lemon, to me, is the cure for any tasteless salad or tea and my answer to most dressings. Warm or hot drinks actually regulate body temperature in hot weather and it is no wonder they are usual practice in countries such as Morocco or India, to name a couple.
I always aim minimum 2-3 litres of fluids, however, in hot weather – I love to hydrate with 3-4 litres. It makes a big difference. One way to gauge your hydration level is to look at the color of your urine. If you’re well-hydrated, your urine should be pale.
The best is to drink on schedule, perhaps every hour and drink plenty of fluids if exercising. I would avoid energy drinks and sports drinks. They are loaded with sugar. Choose those that replace electrolytes. At the same time, avoid drinking too much water in one go. One small 250-350 ml glass at a time will suffice. Have a bottle of water handy, especially if travelling or working in an office.
Have you ever felt like not cooking when it is hot? Of course you did! Unless you do not cook in general. Our bodies know already that raw vegetables and salads are a way to go in hot weather. Fruit and vegetables are up to 95% water and, whilst general advice is that we do not need to drink as much water because of hydrating fruits and vegetables – I would suggest you continue focusing on water as most people would not be able to quantify the amount of water they have just had after consuming a salad.
Saying that, salads are a great way to get extra hydration for our bodies. Also, bear in mind that it is a lot easier to prepare a salad than a hot stew, so, no excuses when it comes to healthy eating in the summer. Now is the time. Keep it simple. Summer is the time to enjoy variety of fruits and vegetables. Just add palm size protein to your salad dish and your meal is done. Better focus on lean proteins such as fish and chicken breast. It takes body under couple of hours to digest them, while red meats can take 6 hours or more.
WHAT FOODS AND DRINKS TO AVOID
Teas and coffees are slight diuretics – your body loses some fluids when consuming teas and coffees. My general advice is to limit them to not more than two a day and have an extra glass of water for each cup of caffeinated tea or coffee you drink.
Alcohol dehydrates us even more as it makes us urinate more and, therefore, lose water quicker. It, ideally, should be avoided completely, especially in extreme hot conditions. However, I know many of you are feeling quite a resistance as you are reading this particular point as alcohol is such powerful part of the UK culture, especially in the summer months. It almost makes summers more sexy and exciting.
Jug of Pimm’s with strawberries sounds like a great way to spend the afternoon. Well, it could be worse than that, I will admit. If you must (and I know some must indeed, which is OK) – have a glass of water with each alcoholic drink. It is actually very important tip to remember – before you had too many. 😉
Hot & spicy foods make our temperature high and it is advisable to go for milder tastes in hot weather to keep the temperature low.
Protein is the hardest for body to digest, especially red meat, so avoid red meat and processed meats as much as you can. Body still needs protein, so, focus on fish more in the summer months and, of course, plant protein.
I hope this has been useful and hope everyone is making wonderful memories this summer!
Until next time, stay nourished & hydrated!
Your partner in health,