Summers in India are quite harsh in certain parts of the country. The rising mercury levels and heat not only make us uncomfortable but also drain us of our energy and stamina. This happens due to the excessive water loss from the body due to perspiration. It is very important to stay hydrated during summer to avoid a potential heatstroke.
To prevent dehydration, plenty of water should be consumed during the hot summer days. Along with that, the diet should include foods that can reduce body heat and keep you cool naturally. You should include fruits and vegetables with high water content in your diet. Eating right and lifestyle changes can definitely help us beat the heat and its hazardous effects on the body.
Ragi or finger millet is one of the native grains of India. It is mostly grown and consumed in the western and southern states of India. Ragi powder can be mixed with water, milk, or yogurt and had as a porridge. It can also be used to make dosas, rotis, cakes, etc. It is very easy to digest and so is also given to babies as their first solid food.
Ragi is a rich source of calcium and iron. It has fibre content and helps improve digestion. Ragi has a cooling effect on the body and can be consumed during summers.
Khus sherbet is made from roots of khus grass. It has been used as a cooling remedy for ages and is also liked by all due to its soothing fragrance. Khus sherbet is very easy to make and has multiple health benefits, especially during summer. It not only quenches thirst but also reduces thirst. Khus is a rich source of iron, manganese, and vitamin B6. It has natural diuretic properties and therefore helps maintain the water balance in the body. Khus also helps in preventing and treating fever caused due to excessive heat.
Bel or wood apple is the fruit of the Bel tree. All plants of the tree are used in different ways but the fruit has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. The bel fruit ripens in summer and cracks open making it easy to remove the pulp within. It has a slightly sweet and tangy taste and makes for a tasty and refreshing coolant. It contains beta carotene, vitamin C, and sugar, which reduces sweet cravings. Bel sherbet not only hydrates the body but also detoxes it from within. A glass of bel sherbet helps fight fatigue and loss of energy during summer. It also helps prevent fungal infections of the skin that are common in summer due to excessive perspiration.
Onion is the most commonly consumed vegetable in India. It can be had raw as a salad or added to any vegetable or curry. Not many know about the cooling properties of onion. It contains volatile oils that help balance the body’s temperature. Besides that, onions are a rich source of iron, antioxidants, folate, and Vitamins B and C. Red onions are loaded with quercetin, an anti-allergen.
Raw onions are quite pungent at times but squeezing a bit of lemon not only enhances the taste but also increases the Vitamin C content.
Sabja or basil seeds are native to India. They cannot be consumed raw and need to be soaked in water, which makes them gelatinous. They are a rich source of calcium, magnesium, iron, protein, carbohydrates, and fibre. They are a natural body coolant because of the water they absorb when soaked. They can be added to a cold beverage to reduce body heat and soothe the stomach during summer.
We all know that it is advisable to consume a lot of water during summer to keep ourselves hydrated. Adding a few herbs to the water infuses the water with flavour and the nutritional benefits of the herbs. One such herb is mint or pudina. It has a strong refreshing flavour that makes you feel fresh and drives away lethargy. It also has cooling properties due to its high menthol content which makes one have the sensation of feeling cooler on hot summer days.
Mint can also be used to make a hot or iced peppermint tea, which helps you to perspire more and thus cools down the body. The iced tea can be combined with lime to help cool down the stomach. Mint leaves contain antioxidants and phytonutrients that boost digestion during hot and humid summers.
Ghee is an integral part of the Indian diet. It is the most revered ingredient in our kitchens and is mostly consumed during winters. But it is equally beneficial to consume it in summers too. Ghee is rich in fat and butyric acid that help improve the immune system. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and C that help nourish all the tissues and promote good organ function.
Ghee is said to have moisturizing properties that help keep the body stay hydrated. It nourishes the body from within which is very necessary since the high temperatures cause dehydration.
According to Ayurveda, ghee is an excellent home remedy to reduce pitta and body heat. Given all these qualities ghee should be consumed in the summer season too!
Curd or dahi is comfort food for most of us in India. It’s cooling, soothing and nutritious properties make it a perfect go-to food during the scorching Indian summers. Curd is made by a process called curdling that breaks down lactose in milk into lactic acid making it easier to digest. It contains probiotics which help improve gut health and also cool down the body. Since curd is made from milk, it is a good source of calcium, protein, and Vitamin D. Sweet or salty buttermilk made from curd helps you stay hydrated and can prevent heat strokes. The traditional way of making curd in an earthen pot is ideal as it insulates the curd against temperature fluctuations and yields thick and creamier curd.
Sattu is a flour made from roasted gram. It is a powerhouse of energy and is often referred to as a ‘poor man’s protein’ because it is inexpensive and yet immensely beneficial to health. Sattu is a rich source of dietary nutrients, iron, sodium, fibre, protein, and magnesium. It can be mixed with water and had as a sweet or savoury drink that helps flush toxins from the body. In ancient times, sattu was considered a travel food, because it was easy to prepare while traveling, had a long shelf life, and provided all the essential nutrients.
Dr. Deepali Kampani is a digital content specialist who weaves health and food through her pen.