By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
Baby, it’s hot outside!
It looks like another temperature-breaking summer is here. And if it’s anything like last year, it’s time to find ways to stay cool and beat the heat.
In addition to staying as cool as possible, one of the most important things you can do when temperatures reach extreme highs is make sure you’re eating foods that will provide you with plenty of hydration and nutrition.
It’s not always easy to do. After all, who wants to cook a hot meal when you are already overheated?
Plus, a lot of us lose our appetites when it’s hot outside. Basically, when our bodies work overtime to keep us cool, it acts as an appetite suppressant. At the same time, we’re sweating out all of those fluids, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. That can create chemical imbalances in our bodies that further reduce appetite.
So the idea behind eating during a heatwave is to enjoy foods that are cooling, hydrating and nutritious.
One of my favorite summertime foods is watermelon. It’s one of the most hydrating foods you can eat; it contains about 92% water. That might make you think it’s not nutritious but, surprisingly, watermelon has plenty of nutritional value.
Watermelon is high in citrulline and arginine, which act as precursors to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is critical to the function of your arteries. It relaxes and expands your blood vessels so blood can flow freely through your body. This helps lower blood pressure and protect against arterial dysfunction and damage.
Nitric oxide also contributes to an improved lipid profile and insulin response. The potassium, magnesium and other phytonutrients in watermelon all contribute to these effects. So watermelon is a heart healthy food.
Another compound watermelon is high in is lycopene. Men know all about this antioxidant. It helps protect against prostate cancer and lowers PSA scores. It can also help cut the odds of developing BPH.
But it’s not the only fruit that contains this cancer-fighting compound.
The Perfect Summer Duo for Hydration and Nutrition
Another juicy summer fruit high in lycopene is the tomato. (Yes, technically tomatoes are considered to be fruits, not vegetables!) The interesting thing about the lycopene in tomatoes is that it increases when the tomatoes are cooked. So does the overall antioxidant value of a tomato.
Cooking tomatoes on low heat for two minutes increases the lycopene content by 54%, and cooking them for 30 minutes increases it by 164%. Antioxidants are increased by 28% and 62% respectively.
You can also increase the lycopene in tomatoes by eating them with a fatty food like avocado, which is another relatively high water fruit. For example, guacamole and salsa with avocados both increase the lycopene content of the tomatoes in them more than four-fold.
And avocados come with their own health benefits.
People who eat avocados have a healthier and more diverse gut microbiota, including higher concentrations of prebiotic short chain fatty acids. And avocados are great when it comes to weight management and reducing the chances of developing metabolic syndrome.
Plus, eating a single avocado daily can reduce the burden of small dense LDL particles. These are the ones that tend to slip through the lining of your blood vessels where they create blockages that can result in heart attack or stroke.
Count me in for plenty of healthy and refreshing salsa and guacamole this summer!
But let’s not stop there.
While watermelon and tomatoes are two of the most hydrating summertime fruits, nearly all fruits have a high water content and are filled with nutrition.
So don’t stick with any single fruit or fruit group. Mix and match them all; berries, stone fruits and citrus are all high in water and nutrition. Try a watermelon, berry and mango salad … an avocado, apple and mandarin orange salad … or whatever strikes your taste buds.
What About Hydrating Veggies?
You need a wide variety of both fruits and vegetables to maintain good health and high energy levels in extreme heat situations. And there are some great hydrating and nourishing veggies available to you.
Zucchini, squash, spinach, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli and cauliflower are all on the list. So are cucumbers, celery, mushrooms, radishes, bell peppers and carrots.
All of these can be eaten raw, or can be cooked in a matter of minutes. So none of them require you to slave over a hot stove cooking them for a measurable amount of time. This means you can beat the heat altogether by tossing up a veggie salad, or you can spend a few warmer minutes throwing together a quick stir fry on the stove.
Go for the rainbow! Choose a colorful variety of cooling fruits and vegetables to get you through the heat.
And in the meantime, don’t forget to drink several tall glasses of water each day and carry a water bottle with you when you leave the house.
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