Beat the Heat with Nutrition
As the sunshine pours down in abundance, southern Pakistan is becoming a victim of a dangerous heat wave. With the heat wave striking Sindh, we keep hearing about heat strokes. These heat strokes are turning out to be fatal, and fasting is making them even harder. However there are still steps that we can take to avoid such fatal incidents from taking place.
Where there are problems and epidemics, there are also precautions that we can take to avoid them. Nature has blessed us with food that w can take in order to avoid heat strokes in our families and loved ones hence nutrition helps beat the heat.
What is Heat Stroke?
Heat stroke takes place when the body’s temperature controlling mechanism fails due to prolonged exposure to heat. When the body’s temperature rises to 40.1C, the body’s internal functions start to shut down. This high temperature can also affect the nervous system and cause delirium, coma or seizures.
Symptoms of a heat stroke
- Rapid pulse
- Throbbing headache
- Very high body temperature
- Red, hot, dry skin (sweating stops)
The part of brain that controls the temperature is the hypothalamus. During heat exhaustion, the body is producing more heat than it is releasing, the chances of this happening increase if you are dehydrated. The excessive sweating also robs the body of electrolytes which makes our muscles and nervous system work. These include Sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium etc.
Foods for Hypothalamus
While heat management, we forget about taking care of the hypothalamus. Foods with essential fatty acids need to be taken to take care of our body’s thermostat. These foods include sea weeds, carrots, olive oil, nuts, and green leafy vegetables.
Foods for Dehydration
Foods with high water content should be taken to avoid dehydration during the heat wave, and hence avoid heat stroke.
Make sure you include cucumber as part of your daily diet. It moistens and cleanses your intestines, and it can even help to kill tape worms that are become common during the summer months. Cucumber cools your body as it also contains loads of water and vitamins. Cucumber water is a very common way of having cucumbers. Just place some slices of cucumbers in a jug for a few hours and drink the water with some ice cubes. To cool down physically apply refrigerated slices of cucumber on your eyes and feel good as new!
Peaches contain less calories and more water and vitamins. These vitamins remove the heat causing toxins in the blood, acting as a coolant. Peaches can be added in fruit chats and smoothies as a healthy alternative to junk food and fizzy drinks any day!
Watermelons are the staple fruit of many areas that generally lack water. They are huge and healthy and can make an amazing smoothie. Watermelons can be blended with sugar to form a slush, or frozen in slices and act like an ice cream.
Yogurts have long known to help against heat strokes and summer heat in general. In south asia yogurts are eaten with almost every dish. Keep up the tradition and have a bowl of yogurt in sehri to help you with the thirst and heat.
Juicy tomatoes, sweet corn, cucumbers, leafy greens should be taken in summer as much as possible. Vitamin C in the vegetables boosts immune system, Vitamin E removes the radicals that are very dangerous if left in the body, Vitamin A is an antioxidant that removes toxins and poisons from the body.
Throw away the Gatorade and grab some natural drinks such as coconut water. It essentially provides the same natural electrolytes to the body in their natural form that artificial drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade claim to provide.
Bananas are high in potassium and potassium is extremely important in making your muscles work. Low potassium makes people fall down in high temperature as the muscles stop working when potassium is excreted through sweat.
Himalayan Salt (Kala namak)
This salt is loaded with minerals and can be a life saver. Add Himalayan salt in water along with some lemon and it can do wonders.
Foods to Avoid
Foods that dehydrate the body should be avoided at all costs. Your tea and coffee can wait a few days until the heat wave goes away, but health won’t.
Avoid coffee, tea, soft drinks as they are a big no. Smokers should try their best to avoid smoking as it adds fuel to the fire and increases chances of heat stroke. Also avoid eating oily foods that produce a lot of calories and hence a lot of heat in the body.
Hopefully the tragic heat wave passes us soon and we are blessed with rainfall and cold winds from the sea. Until then, these measures should be taken up to take care of yourself and your family.